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