If your idea of grown-up Halloween does not include costume parties, how about a chocolate and wine tasting?
For years, THE NIBBLE has been updating its highly-regarded wine and chocolate pairing chart. You can use it to prepare a memorable Halloween tasting.
While our chart is quite extensive, your tasting can be as simple as four or five chocolate bars. John Scharffenberger, who got his start as a wine maker, shares his own favorites to pair with Scharffen Berger dark and milk chocolate bars:
Scharffen Berger 72% Signature Dark Chocolate. John Scharffenberger notes that darker chocolates pair beautifully with dry, rich, full-bodied red wines. He likes an Italian Amarone, a Spanish Rioja or French Bordeaux.
Scharffen Berger 72% Dark Chocolate with Pistachios and Sea Salt. While you can use the same wines when pistachios are included, lighter nuts like pistachio can be served with Mas Amiel, a dessert wine from the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France; Sauternes, a dessert wine from the Bordeaux region, or Cabernet Sauvignon, which can bring out nutty accents.
Scharffen Berger 33% Smooth Milk Chocolate. Lighter-flavored chocolates pair best with light-bodied wines. John Scharffenberger advises that buttery caramel overtones make this chocolate a perfect complement to a Sauvignon Blanc. Also try it with Armagnac, a single-distilled French brandy.
For holiday gift giving, tie some fine chocolate bars with a ribbon and bestow them with or without matching wines. Photo by Hannah Kaminsky | THE NIBBLE.
THE NIBBLE particularly likes these wines with milk chocolate: Hungarian Tokaji (pronounced TOE-coy); Muscat, a white dessert wine from France with peach and apricot flavors’ and Tawny Port, a fortified wine from Portugal. In fact, Tawny Port is our favorite match with milk chocolate. Its nutty nuances highlight milk chocolate’s nutty and caramel notes and enhance the overall chocolate flavor.
Scharffen Berger 33% Milk Chocolate with Toasted Coconut and Macadamia Nuts. For this delicious bar, THE NIBBLE recommends Brachetto d’Acqui, a light, ruby-colored sparkling dessert wine from Piedmont, with typical aromas of fruit and roses. It’s a great match with both nuts and coconut. A Sauternes from Bordeaux (Lafaurie-Peyraguey or similar style) or a Late Harvest Semillon from Australia are also good complements.
The educational fun of a tasting is to be able to compare and contrast different wines with different chocolates, and decide what you like best. That’s more important, after all, than any expert opinion.