Chocolates love sweet wines
If you’re thinking of putting up a wine and chocolate platter for your next party, here’s something you should know. Red wine can be tricky — apart from a few exceptions, red wines don’t pair well with the dark stuff, as the tannins and cacao are not palate allies. So what’s best? Go for naturally sweet wines, also known as ‘vins doux naturels’ and fortified wines, as they have aromas of cocoa, torrefaction and candied fruit.
What is naturally sweet wine?
To make naturally sweet wine, winegrowers use a method called mutage. To halt the fermentation of the wine, they add neutral grape spirit at a volume of 5-10%, so some of the grape’s natural sweetness is retained. That’s why these wines have a smooth and very distinctive taste. This method is also the reason for the wine’s high alcohol content. There are many naturally sweet wines, reflecting the variety of wine- producing areas, each of which gives the wine its character and typical features.
In the Eastern Pyrenees, the seaside town of Banyuls has given its name to a enowned natural sweet wine. There are different styles of Banyuls: “rimage” means it is matured for at least a year, and the “rancio” designation is linked to oxidative characteristics in the wine which give it its golden colour and its taste. The aromas are made of candied fruit, figs and prunes.
The Maury variety
The wine growers use a variety of grapes — grenache noir, but also carignan and syrah. There are several types of Maury wine: grenat, tuilé, ambré, rancio and hors d’âge. The wines with the hors d’âge designation are complex and memorable. They are aged for a minimum of five years in an oxidative environment. The aromas are of dark fruits for the grenat designation, cocoa and coffee for the tuilé style.
On to the Port
Chocolate pairs perfectly with port. This famous Portuguese drink is a sweet wine and can be categorised as vintage, meaning that it is from a specific year and just one grape variety. Mature ports, meaning over 15 years old, are a very rich and complex experience for the nose and palate, with aromas of cocoa, cof fee and prune. When vintage ports are blended, they are known as tawny ports. Conversely, ruby ports are young and have kept all their fruity flavour.