Nailing a perfect wine (or any other drink) to match with food is not easy. Supporting ingredients are often the most important – a herb, spice or seasoning can completely change how a dish interacts with wine (great restaurants will get the marriage spot on). Thankfully, however, most meals can tolerate a wide range of wines, and at home our approach can be more relaxed; as long as there aren’t any bad clashes, I’m happy.
Just a few ingredients should set off a warning klaxon, as they are in danger of actively destroying a poorly chosen wine. Artichokes, for one, and – perhaps surprisingly – chocolate. I’ve lost count of the number of treasured bottles of dessert wine I have been served, only to have them ruined by a dense chocolate pudding. It simply overwhelms most things, making dry wine taste acidic, accentuating tannins in reds, and often overpowering a traditional sweet wine such as Sauternes. Rich, powerful and often fortified wines are the answer – although beer and spirits can also do the job. Here are three alternatives to sip with an after-dinner cocoa-based treat.