Wine producers are magicians really. How else do you explain how wine can taste like a myriad other things; almonds, lemons, pineapple, smoke, cherries, vanilla, tobacco… the list goes on. It’s nothing short of modern day wizardry. But how about chocolate? It’s pretty rare to find a wine which tastes of chocolate.
We’re not talking chocolate wine here, which has sprung up in recent years. Some producers have started to infuse chocolate or chocolate flavourings into reds or fortified wines to create a very overt chocolate flavour. No, we’re talking about wine which naturally has notes or aromas of chocolate. So, if you’re a chocolate lover, what should you try?
Probably the best known Spanish wine in the world, Rioja can be many things. The Crianza is young and fruity, the Gran Reserva is oaky. But look in the middle at the Reserva and you may just find chocolatey. The Vina Ardanza Reserva is one of the best examples of wine which tastes like chocolate. Here, you’ll find lovely spicy notes of coffee and clove, with a bit of smokiness and the smoothness of vanilla and chocolate, all set against a ripe cherry background. Delicious!
For those who love dark chocolate, a Syrah is a good option. Generally packed with lots of blackcurrant and cherry, Syrah can also have a pepperiness and hints of dark cocoa. France, Australia and Spain are the biggest producers of Syrah, in that order. Just as you might throw a square of dark chocolate in as the secret ingredient in your chilli con carne, the chocolate flavours of Syrah can make it a great partner for game, venison and stews.
Full bodied and rustic, Monastrell is one of the lesser known varieties of Spanish wine, but more and more people are switching on to its qualities. It has previously been dismissed or even despised by some wine buffs because it’s easy for wine producers to get it wrong and it tends to need time until its tannins soften and interesting flavours develop. But in southern Spain, the hot climate means it develops earlier and it is altogether softer. Here you’ll still find the unmistakable Monastrell muskiness of soil, but also blackberries and chocolate.
Okay, given that there are around 10,000 Bordeaux wines, we’re not suggesting all of them taste like chocolate, but some certainly do. While young Bordeaux wines are easier to drink when younger, older Bordeaux becomes richer and like velvet on the tongue, a bit like appreciating a really good chocolate as it melts in your mouth. You’ll often find notes of liquorice, chocolate and coffee.
Argentina produces some of the best value Malbecs around. And, not only that, it’s some of the most flavoursome, full-bodied wine you’ll find. If you’re looking for chocolate flavours, choose Argentinian over French Malbec as you won’t get such tartness. Instead, you’ll find nuances of milk chocolate, leather and tobacco.
While chocolate itself is notoriously difficult to pair with wine, with these suggestions, you don’t have to worry about that. You get all the flavour in your glass.