Beer and Chocolate Pairing Guide

In our last post (click here to read), we celebrated National Chocolate Fondue Day with tasty chocolate fondue recipes, fun chocolate quotes, and our wine and chocolate pairing guide! We hope you enjoyed it, and will practice your wine and chocolate pairing skills all year long.

But, why should wine get all the attention? Let’s talk about BEER!

beer-chocolate-pairingSo, to all our craft beer lovers out there, we have good news — beer and chocolate go great together, too! In this post, we will discuss the basics of beer and chocolate pairing, and offer some tips for creating a match made in heaven.

Like wine, craft beer is a very complex product of ingredients, time, and art. There is a wide, and ever-growing, variety of craft beers being introduced into the market every day. Craft beer brewers are taking matters into their own hands, mixing and matching ingredients like we’ve never seen before. This new age of craft brewing has truly become an art form all its own.

Sweetshop Truffles WineStyles

Sweet Shop USA truffle assortment from WineStyles Tasting Station

Likewise, one bite into high quality chocolate and you’ll immediately realize the difference. Each variety of chocolate contains its own unique set of flavor profiles just like wine and craft beer. Similar to grapes, cacao beans and their subsequent flavors can be the result of a multitude of variables including topography, weather, soil conditions and harvesting processes.

Who ever thought that chocolate would pair well with beer? Let’s break it down: to put it very simply – chocolate and beer pair well together, because there is a desirable interaction between the richness of the chocolate, and the carbonation of the beer.

Think back to when we advised you to try champagne or sparkling wines with any type of chocolate in the chocolate and wine pairing guide. The carbonation in the bubbly, or beer, provides a round and full mouth-feel when paired with the fatty feeling of the cacao butter on your tongue.

As we move on, remember the best part of any pairing is the experience, the joy of experimenting and trying different flavors together. We’re here to give you a basic road map to help you along that journey.

Beer and Chocolate Pairing GuideStout Glass Craft Beer WineStyles

You may have guessed it – richer, bigger, and overall maltier beers typically pair the best with gourmet chocolate. These styles are known as porters, barley wines, sours, stouts, and barrel-aged beers. The rich flavors of these brews easily bring out the nuances in fine chocolates.

Beer with a higher alcohol content is better able to cut through rich cacao butter (this is especially important to heed if pairing with white chocolate, as it is higher in cacao butter).

It’s a good rule of thumb to first seek to match the intensity of the chocolate. If you’re opting for a dark-as-night gourmet chocolate bar, it would best be paired with an equally intense beer, such as a Russian Imperial Stout. Sours pair well with most milk chocolates, because they balance out the sweetness.

Sweetshop Milk Pecan Brag WineStyles

Beers with nut and caramel flavors pair well with a Sweet Shop USA gourmet Milk Chocolate Pecan Brag

If you’re unsure how intense your beer might be, or want to try another route, try matching up similar flavors. For example, IPAs are notoriously difficult to pair with chocolate, due to the bitterness of the hops used in making them. They do, however, tend to embody notes of summertime citrus. Match those citrus notes with a chocolate that has added lemon or orange zest for a pleasant pairing experience. Are there caramel or nutty notes in your chosen beer? Try pairing it with matching flavors — a delicious caramel truffle, or a nutty gourmet chocolate.

We know what you’re thinking — is there a universal pairing? One beer that can be paired with nearly any chocolate of choice? Yes, indeed, one beer rules them all when it comes to versatility! That king of beers is the fruit-infused Lambic. Kriek (Cherry) or Framboise (Raspberry) are great selections for a spot-on chocolate pairing 99% of the time.

Like we said in the beginning, it is the journey that is the most fun. If you’re a beginner, try casually picking up a gourmet chocolate truffle the next time you head to your local WineStyles to pick up craft beer. If you’re already ahead of the game, invite friends over for a fun beer and chocolate pairing night. Have fun picking out which chocolates to pair with your favorite craft beers. You may just love what you find!

Love Craft Beer? 

BeerClubLogoJoin our exclusive Craft Beer Club* and you’ll be among fellow beer lovers across the country. Each month you’ll discover remarkable craft brews, each with different beer styles such as Ales, IPA’s, Pilsners, Porters or Stouts. Monthly beer selections are chosen locally, focusing on beers from small independent brewers to regional microbrewers to international brewers using time-honored brewing methods. Plus you’ll enjoy all the perks that come with our Craft Beer Club memberships! It’s the perfect opportunity to Taste, Learn and Enjoy® amazing hand-crafted beers all year long! Gift memberships can be purchased by visiting your nearest WineStyles Tasting Station location.

*Craft Beer Club is not available at all WineStyles locations. Please see your local WineStyles for details and information. (Click here for store locator).

Thanks for reading, 

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Wine and Chocolate Pairing Guide – 4 Steps to FUN!

Did you know that National Chocolate Fondue Day is right around the corner? February 5th marks this special day in chocolate lovers’ hearts. To celebrate, we’re going to explore the world of Chocolate and Wine Pairing! But before we get to that, take a look at these tasty chocolate fondue recipes to celebrate all month-long! chocolate-fondue

What to dip? Here are a few ideas: marshmallows, pound cake, banana slices, pretzels, strawberries, pineapple, waffle bites, various cookies, graham crackers, chips, cinnamon roll bites, doughnut holes, pretty much anything you’d like to chocolate-ify!

Ok, now that you’ve read (and bookmarked!) some delicious chocolate fondue recipes to try all month-long, let’s have a good laugh with some of the funniest chocolate quotes we have found out there on the web. Just because. 🙂

“Why can’t I be comforted by carrots? Why does it have to be chocolate or wine?” – someecards.com

“Nobody knows the truffles I’ve seen…..” – George Lang

“The 12 step chocoholics program: Never be more than 12 steps away from chocolate.” – Terry Moore

“Chocolate comes from cocoa, which comes from trees – that makes it a plant. Therefore, chocolate counts as salad.” – Daniel Rafferty

“The parenting skill I’m most proud of is being able to shove a whole chocolate bar in my mouth then talk normal when my kid walks in.” SnarkECards

Now let’s get down to business – it’s time to learn about chocolate and wine pairing! We know wine is delicious on its own, but sometimes it’s fun to treat your taste buds to new and interesting combinations! Wine and chocolate go together like a horse and carriage – they’re a match made in heaven, but that’s not to say you can pair any chocolate with any wine and expect to hear choirs of angels. Let’s go through four basic rules for chocolate and wine pairing.

The 4 Cardinal Rules of Chocolate and Wine Pairing:

Rule #1 – Choose gourmet chocolate. Yes, you may have a great experience pairing leftover Christmas candies with wine, but it likely won’t be one for the record books. Whatever chocolate you enjoy, be it dark, milk, or white chocolate, it’s best to pick gourmet.

Rule #2 – Pick wine based on the sweetness of your chocolate. The distance of sweetness between the wine and the chocolate should be short. It’s safest to pick wine that is at least as sweet as the chocolate you’ve picked, even a touch sweeter. The further apart wine and chocolate are on the sweetness scale, the more bitterness creeps in.

Rule #3 – Match the richness. Light chocolate pairs better with lighter-bodied wines. The stronger the chocolate’s flavor, the more full-bodied wine you’ll want to pair it with, i.e. dark chocolate can stand up to a bold Cabernet Sauvignon better than white, or milk chocolate can. Also keep in mind that, in general, red wines tend to pair better with chocolate than white wines do.

A quick note before we go on to cardinal rule number four. Did you know that magic happens when you eat dark chocolate and drink red wine? It’s true. Research shows that chemical substances called polyphenols have a dilating effect on blood vessels, improving blood supply to the brain in terms of increased oxygen and sugar delivery. The result of this process allows us to solve complex problems with ease. Amazing!

Wine and Chocolate Pairing WineStylesRule #4 – Always taste the wine first! If you taste the chocolate before tasting the wine, your taste buds will be covered with cocoa butter, which will prevent you from getting a good reading of how the wine tastes on its own. Only take a bite of chocolate once you’ve assessed the wine. If you’re pairing multiple wines with multiple types of chocolates, be sure to cleanse your palate in between pairings. It’s also best, as with any tasting, to go from light to dark. Start with the lightest-bodied pairing, and work your way to the fullest-bodied.

Remember, everyone’s palate is different. What pairs well for one person may taste awful to another, and that’s what makes it fun! Remember, the goal is always to Taste, Learn, and Enjoy 🙂 To get you started, take a look at this simple wine and chocolate pairing guide.

Suggested Wine and Chocolate Pairings:Wine and Chocolate Pairing WineStyles

White Chocolate – A great match for Moscato d’Asti, a sweet Riesling, or a fruity Chardonnay. If you’re feeling dare-devil-ish, try pairing it with a red wine that has heavy tannins. Since this type of chocolate is made primarily from cacao butter, the strong tannins may cut through the chocolate’s fattiness and create a pleasant pairing.

Milk Chocolate – Pair your favorite gourmet milk chocolates with a smooth Merlot, Pinot Noir, Riesling, or dessert wine. Take care not to pair milk chocolate with dry red wines. The sugar in the chocolate can cancel out the fruit flavors in the wine leaving a bitter taste.

Dark Chocolate – For chocolate in the range of 50 to 70% cacao, pair with a bold Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, or Chianti. Once you hit the 70 to 100% cacao range, you’ll want to go all out in terms of full-bodied wines. Pair this range with Bordeaux, Malbec, Zinfandel, or Shiraz.

All – Pair champagne, sparkling or fortified wines with any type of chocolate to find a combo that tickles your taste buds!

Stay tuned for an upcoming post for you craft beer lovers out there – Chocolate and Beer pairing!

W&B_BootCamp_logoFebruary Wine and Beer Boot Camp, Dessert-Making Demo and Wine Pairings:

Want to skip the mess and treat your sweetheart to a night out this Valentine’s Day? Still looking for that perfect date idea? We can help! Check out WineStyles’ February Wine and Beer Boot Camp class, Dessert and Wine Pairings! Let your local WineStyles* team do the talking while you sit back and have fun tasting and learning side by side! Call your local WineStyles to reserve your seat! (Click here for WineStyles store locator).

*RSVP at your local participating store. Wine and Beer Boot Camp offers may vary at different WineStyles locations, dependent on local and state alcohol laws. Offer void where prohibited.

Thanks for reading,

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