Every year on July 7th World Chocolate Day allows chocolate lovers around the world to indulge in their favourite treat without any guilt. And to celebrate we’ve rounded up the best Greek wines to pair with the chocolate of your choice.
Over the years, Valentine’s Day has become synonymous with chocolate, in the consciousness of the world. But each year, on July 7, we commemorate chocolate’s introduction to Europe in 1550.
Chocolate offers a broad range of flavors and flavor complexity, just like wine. When wine and chocolate are paired successfully, the result raises both elements to a higher level and creates a perfect duo for the tongue and mouth.
As with any pairing of food and wine, there are no set rules. Palates are subjective and experimentation is the key to discovering new loves. However, there are some tips and established norms for those who prefer shortcuts over trial and error. Let’s see some pairing suggestions below.
Dark chocolates with 70% to 100% cacao are the most intense. By definition, dark chocolate contains a minimum of 35% cocoa solids. They have a rich flavor and they call for a wine that offers full-body, robust aromas and intense flavor sketches with bold fruit. A Zinfandel wine would do the job in this case, but The Zinfandel variety is not vinified in Greece so dark chocolate lovers won’t be able to combine their favorite chocolate with an appropriate wine. Ok, I’m joking. Cabernet Sauvignon and dark chocolate usually work well together, because Cabernet Sauvignon is generally full-bodied and it needs to be matched with intense flavors, so raising the cocoa content in the chocolate is key.
As the cocoa content decreases (50% and below) we may consider a wine from Syrah or Merlot grapes.
If I had to opt for some Greek labels, those would be the Avlotopi of Tselepos Estate, an 100% Cabernet Sauvignon and the Les Rois Des Montagnes of Papargyriou Winery, an intense and concentrated 100% Syrah wine.
Even though it is referred to as white chocolate, this dessert isn’t technically true chocolate as it doesn’t include cocoa, but cocoa butter, sugar and milk solids. Its sweet flavors of cream, milk, honey, vanilla, caramel, or fruit make it quite a versatile pair with wine. Italy’s Moscato d’Asti with its subtle bubbles would make an ideal candidate. Another route, for pairing wine with white chocolate, based on Greek vinifications is Muscat, which tends to be lightly aromatic and fruity, i.e. characteristics that lift and refresh the palate. Gewürztraminer with its slight sweetness plus typical lychee fruit tends to also hold up quite well to the buttery mouthfeel and intense profile of white chocolate.
Recommended labels: Lenga, a semi sweet Gewürztraminer from Avantis Estate and Lagopati, a Muscat of Alexandria, Limnos from Chatzigeorgiou Winery.
Milk chocolate has a smaller percentage of cocoa and a higher percentage of sugar, compared with dark chocolate. This factor, plus the milk content means it’s milder, and sweeter transmitting flavors of brown sugar, cocoa, vanilla, honey, caramel, milk, cream and nuts. The ripe, red fruit and often lighter body and silky tannins of a Pinot Noir or a medium-bodied Merlot will match well with the smooth character and cocoa butter components of milk chocolate. From Greek varieties, an Agiorgitiko could also hold up quite well to the mild mouthfeel and integrated profile of milk chocolate. Also, a sparkling wine could pair well. The bright acidity and fusion of bubbles bring out the intense fruit flavors and chocolate accents particularly well.
Suggested labels: Aurelia Sparkling from Zoinos Winery and Nemea from Gofas Estate i.e. a 100% Agiorgitiko.
If you are being skeptical about the above combinations and have doubts, you should go with a classic. The rich textures, ripe fruit factors, hints of chocolate and sweet profile of sweet Mavrodaphne makes it a no-brainer for pairing with many kinds of milk and dark chocolate choices.
Summers in Greece are very hot and chocolate consumption decreases during the summer months. The 7th of July is in the heart of the Greek summer and if a chocolate bar seems an unlikely option, then… how about celebrating the day with a refreshing chocolate ice cream …
So, if you want to enjoy a scoop of your favorite ice cream alongside your glass of wine, look for a sweet, ruby-hued, semi-sparkling dessert wine with floral notes and hints of red berries.
Akakies Sparkling from Kir Yianni Estate is an easy-to-find and budget-friendly option. Add fresh raspberries or strawberries to this already delicious combination. Perfection!
So, whether you enjoy a simple chocolate bar or something more elaborate, remember that with a bit of flexibility and delicious experimentation, you are sure to find remarkable wine and chocolate pairings that achieve the balance and seamless synergy of a well-paired union.
Happy “World Chocolate Day!”
For more wonderful wine explorations, follow George on Instagram @george.winestories