Sweet har­mony

Cham­pagne and choco­late are not the per­fect part­ner­ship. Try a dessert wine or port in­stead

The Sunday Telegraph - Stella - - DRINK -

Choco­late needs a prop­erly sweet, truly lus­cious dessert wine. I say this so em­phat­i­cally be­cause, of course, Valen­tine’s Day is around the cor­ner. So, ro­man­tics: any­one lucky enough to be given both cham­pagne and choco­late at the same time would do well to keep them firmly apart.

Be­cause some­thing goes very wrong when you pair a dry­ish sparkling wine (even a softer prosecco), with any form of choco­late. The bub­bly has nowhere near enough sugar for the job, plus its fresh acid­ity and tingly bub­bles create a clash­ing mouth-feel against the fatty tex­ture of choco­late. The lat­ter wins the bout, be­ing stronger in flavour, and leaves the poor pum­melled wine tast­ing weak, a lit­tle sour.

En­joy your fizz as an aper­i­tif, or with light savoury food. For a choco­late dessert, or a box of the finest, there are more suit­able part­ners. All sweet, of course, but the best for dark choco­late are riper, richer dessert wines, not crisp, del­i­cate ones. Try Aus­tralia’s peachy sweet semil­lon, or strong, hon­eyed south­ern French mus­cat, Hun­gary’s Tokaji or Span­ish mosca­tel. Bordeaux’s fa­mous sauternes can cut it, but is bet­ter with milk choco­late.

Or choose a port, Madeira or sweet sherry. I have big love for tawny port in par­tic­u­lar with dark choco­late desserts. ‘Tawnies’, slowly aged in bar­rels, have divine lin­ger­ing nut­ti­ness, hints of or­ange peel, smooth tof­fee and wood-spice – prob­a­bly cre­at­ing the most con­tented of mar­riages.

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