tips for pairing wine with chocolate


I love nothing better than teaching chocolate lovers how to pair fantastic artisan chocolate from around the world with different libations.

Most of you know that cacao and pure dark chocolate is considered the top power food on the planet, with more bioflavonols and antioxidants than any other food. So my travels always include searching for the best chocolate I can find as well as the best wine, as the concept of terroir is present in both chocolate and wine. And there’s nothing better than creating a good pairing between the two. Here are a few tips to help you in creating great chocolate and wine pairings.

I absolutely love a glass of good full-bodied Malbec wine with a piece of deep dark chocolate. It is a match made in heaven, as Argentinian Malbec offers an abundance of slightly acidic fruity notes, primarily those of dark red and purple fruit. Pair that with dark chocolate made from cocoa beans grown in Peru or Madagascar–which both also feature acidic fruity notes–and your taste buds will thank you forever. If I’m pairing wine with dark chocolate, that is one of my favourite combinations.


Truth be told, pairing wine with chocolate can be a real treat for your taste buds. A dark red wine like Malbec from Argentina and a dark (slightly) acidic chocolate like this Izumo Shimane Fig Bar from La Chocolaterie Nanairo of Japan are a match made in (Chocolatour) heaven.

It is my practice and preference to pair like with like. I love to pair the big bold red wines (such as Malbec) with 72% or higher pure dark chocolate that offers a big bold flavour of its own.

This brings into play the principle of terroir, simply defined as how a particular growing region’s climate, soil, and terrain affect the taste of wine.

Just as in wine, where the soil and climate that the grapes are grown in will affect the ultimate flavour of the wine produced from those grapes, the same is true in the production of chocolate.

As mentioned, Peru and Madagascar are two countries best known for the fruitiness and mild acidity of their cacao. I know firsthand that in Peru, this is primarily because the cacao is grown in amongst fruit trees such as mango, papaya, and banana that help enrich the soil and provide protection to the delicate cacao trees which can’t take too much direct sun and are prone to disease. I’ve not yet been to Madagascar to investigate growing conditions there, but you can bet it’s near the top of my list, as invariably when I taste chocolate made by various single origin chocolate bar makers, I often prefer the chocolate made from Madagascan cocoa beans. Even their milk chocolate is exceptionally good!


When attempting to pair flavoured chocolate with wine, it’s more important to consider the flavour enhancement (such as ginger, cinnamon, etc.) than whether the chocolate is dark, white, or milk.

For those of you who do prefer milk chocolate, you are best to pair unflavoured milk chocolate with a lighter red like a Pinot Noir if it a dark milk chocolate (i.e. generally 50-60% cocoa), and a buttery Chardonnay if it’s a light, creamier milk chocolate of around 32-45% cocoa. Milk chocolate can also pair quite nicely with a chilled quality semi-sweet sparkling wine like Moscato. If the chocolate is flavoured with a strong flavour enhancer such as ginger, it is more important to match the wine to the ginger than to the type of chocolate.

Although old-style white chocolate was not considered real ‘chocolate’ as it generally contained only cocoa butter and sugar and no cocoa mass (also called cocoa liquer), many people do love the creaminess of white chocolate. Fine chocolatiers like Sugah! of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, make some delightful white chocolate bars featuring fruit and nuts. I would pair those with a fruity white wine such as Viognier or a sparkling Asti Spumante or Champagne. Champagne is also my choice to accompany chocolate dipped strawberries or a chocolate fondue.


But even the face of white chocolate is continually changing and evolving. Several artisanal chocolate companies like Mucho Chocolate of Mexico City (pictured above featuring Chipotle Chile peppers), Aksinosie of Springfield, Missouri (made with goat’s milk and cacao from the Philippines), and Akesson’s Single Estate Chocolate (based in Sweden and Madagascar) are now pressing their own cocoa butter from the cacao that they use or adding a small amount of cocoa powder into the white chocolate blend, and caramelizing the cane or coconut blossom sugar–creating a more flavourful white chocolate that has a darker colour (i.e. not white, but rather a ‘dulche de leche‘ dark beige or pale yellow colour) compared to the whiter cream-coloured chocolate of days gone by. Each of these unique white chocolate variations would require a custom wine pairing.

I adore curating custom chocolate and wine pairing events. Two of my favourite things coming together in perfect bliss. For information on some of the chocolate and wine pairing events I have arranged or am planning, please visit my Events page. I’d love to plan a customized event for your group of 10 or more in-person or online. 

When researching wine and chocolate, try your hand at something outside your usual comfort zone and let your taste buds guide you to your happy place. And if you enjoy bold flavours, but have never tried Malbec, treat yourself to a mid-priced or higher vintage (don’t opt for a budget variety of Malbec as that extra few dollars really does make a difference in the quality) and celebrate #MalbecWorldDay every April 17th.

Doreen Pendgracs

Known throughout the Web as the "Wizard of Words", I've been a freelance writer since 1993. I researched and wrote Volume I of Chocolatour that won a Readers' favourite Award in 2014. Always enjoy experiencing new destinations and flavours.

55 Responses

  1. A vacation to Madagascar sounds like a wonderful experience. I don’t know a lot about it, and I never considered the nation to be a chocolate supplier.

  2. Dominika says:

    Great article. These are great tips! I never thought to pair milk chocolate with wine, but I will certainly try it with Pinot Noir!

  3. Janet May-Hewson says:

    The malbec pairings sound delicious. I will have to try.

    • Thanks for your comment, Janet. Yes, I think you’d really enjoy a delicious dark chocolate paired with some bold and beautiful Malbec. It is a match made in heaven! I was also pleased with the pairing using a lovely Primotivo.

  4. Kim says:

    Hi Doreen, your suggested pairing of Malbec wine with dark chocolate is amazing! Just love how the 2 of them go together.

  5. Michael says:

    Port is another option

    • You’re absolutely right, Michael. There are so many libations that pair perfectly with various chocolates. I’m doing a pairing event next month that will pair a delicious truffle with Caribbean rum. And I did one a short while ago in which we paired just the right chocolate with a coffee infused stout. The possibilities are deliciously endless.

  6. Ethel Hendricks says:

    Dear, Doreen. As the administrator, you should be pleased to know that your posts are always well-researched and supported by interesting facts and figures. Thank you for your hard work.

  7. KIM Vancouver says:

    WOW ! Didn’t know that is possible to pair wine with chocolate! I must try this diabolical duo! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  8. Also we like to pair Malbec with dark chocolate. Wine and chocolate are the perfect pairing!
    Jessica @ Wine Tours Margaret River recently posted…Sweet WinesMy Profile

  9. Chris David says:

    Really nice post. Thanks for sharing your great tips on pairing wine with chocolate.

  10. We have a difference of opinion about white chocolate. As long as it is made with cocoa butter and no additional fats or oils, I think is is chocolate. We go by the FDA guidelines.

    • Hi TammyJo. Thanks for questioning me on my initial wording describing white chocolate. I hadn’t updated the wording that I’d written initially in 2016 when I first created this post. Since that time, there is an increasing amount of very good white chocolate on the market. But I still don’t like the old style white chocolate that is made only from cocoa butter and sugar as it’s way too sweet for my palate. Thx for stopping by to comment.
      Doreen Pendgracs recently posted…enjoying the advantages of airport hotelsMy Profile

  11. April 17th is World Malbec Day, and as Malbec is one of the best wines for pairing with dark fruity flavoured chocolate (my favourite!) I’ve updated this post so that you’ll be ready to celebrate with a good Malbec by your side. Enjoy!
    Doreen Pendgracs recently posted…enjoying the advantages of airport hotelsMy Profile

  12. Really great info. I will be seeking out a Malbec to celebrate its big day and looking for Peruvian dark chocolate to accompany it. Thanks for the great tips!

  13. Decan says:

    Great tips. We often go to France and one of the greatest pleasures is to go to a wine tasting held by one of the smaller vineyards. We travel in a camper van and sometimes the wine makers bring their wares directly to the camp sites. Needless to say we always end up buying way more than we intended!

  14. Jonathan says:

    This chocolate looks beautiful and interesting, I can’t wait to try it. Which sweet red wine do you suggest?

  15. Rose says:

    I love pairing wine with chocolates. Very delicious possibilities. Very useful and good combinations. Thank you.

  16. I love Malbec with dark Chocolate as well, but I’ve yet to try Chardonnay with milk chocolate. It sounds delicious and I can’t wait to try it! Thanks for the tip!
    Joe Ankenbauer recently posted…A Hidden Paradise: Thousand Steps BeachMy Profile

    • Hi Joe, and thanks for your comment. Yes, I wouldn’t have thought of pairing a buttery Chardonnay with milk chocolate. But that pairing came straight from the chocolatier in this case, and it turned out to be a winner. But remember, it has to be a heavy Chardonnay with that creamy texture, as opposed to an unoaked Chardonnay. Cheers!

  17. Jeri says:

    I still remember when you suggested a couple of years ago that I pair Malbec with sea salt dark chocolate. It’s now a weekly ritual 😉
    Jeri recently posted…#Publishing: Romance Books by the NumbersMy Profile

  18. Catarina says:

    Sounds like delicious suggestions, Doreen. You actually make me crave, above all, chocolate. Would be a good idea to serve when you get together with friends in a casual way.
    Catarina recently posted…Do you like Harvard’s new approach to leadership?My Profile

  19. Hi Doreen, reminds me of when we did that chocolate and wine tasting awhile back. That was fun. :). Chocolate and wine is an amazing combination that creates a unique treat for chocolate lovers like us. Two of my favorite things together, what a magical experience!

  20. Fun article to read as my day is starting! I’d never thought to pair chocolate with white wine, even if it’s white chocolate. I do like your suggestion to “try your hand at ordering something outside your usual comfort zone and let your taste buds guide you to your happy place.”

    • Thx for your comment, Beth. I am a firm believer that the individual is the best one to decide what they like and don’t like. which is why I don’t write straight chocolate reviews on my site. I pique the interest by telling readers about something and why I may have liked it, and then let them decide for themselves whether it’s good or bad. Cheers!

  21. Thanks for this latest diversion Doreen. Really great to have your recommendations:-)
    Kathy Andrew recently posted…Time for a Change Can be a New OpportunityMy Profile

  22. FUN! This was a treat (get it? ha) to share with my Facebook friends. I have many wine and chocolate lovers. Deep red wine and dark, dark chocolate–oh, that’s one of my favorite desserts!
    RoseMary Griffith recently posted…Hawaiian Hiking – Part 2 – Hawaii “The Big Island”My Profile

    • Glad you enjoyed the post, Rose, and thanks for sharing! I hope you’ll share a comment on the newest post as well, as it’s all about winter getaways, and I know how much you love those! 🙂

  23. lenie says:

    Doreen, I’ll bet you had a great time pairing the chocolate and wine – would have loved to have shared some of that time with you. I like Pinot Noir so now I will have to try it with milk chocolate.
    I’ll look forward to reading about your find in Madagascar once you’ve been there.

  24. This is wonderful, Doreen. Very informative. I’m not a big wine drinker, I have stomach issues whenever I drink any type (white or red). Though, I can handle champagne. I personally like champagne with chocolate, especially chocolate covered strawberries, yum. I didn’t know that you should pair chocolate with wine depending on what is in it. That makes sense. Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

  25. Very interesting Doreen. I’m a bit embarrassed to admit I have never had Malbec wine, in fact I don’t recall ever even seeing it at our local stores. But I am definitely going to keep my eyes open for it in the future.

  26. Ken Dowell says:

    I’m sure a trip to Madagascar would be fascinating. I don’t know too much about it and never thought of the country as a source of chocolate.

    • Hi Ken and thanks for your comment. You’d be surprised at all the countries that are now growing cacao! That’s why my Chocolatour project has turned into a multi-volume series. There is much more chocolate in the world than I never dreamed of!

  27. Phoenicia says:

    Wine and chocolate? I cannot say that I have ever tried this combination but it sounds tasty.

    I do have a fondness for dark chocolate – Green and Black to be exact!

    • Hi Phoenicia. Yes, Green & Black is good. But I urge you to seek out some of the amazing chocolate that is being produced by the many talented chocolatiers in London who put G&B to shame. Search my site for chocolatiers in London and you will get quite a listing.

  28. I love this, I could build an evening with friends around wine and chocolate, what fun! It’s funny, when I thunk of chocolate and wine pairings, white wine never even crossed my mind.
    Debra Yearwood recently posted…Leading from Behind, Shepherd or Sheep?My Profile

    • Hi Debra. Great to hear from you!

      Yes, chocolate goes with just about everything if you do the pairing properly.

      And yes, a chocolate and wine pairing event is a super way to spend an evening with friends or colleagues. If we could arrange an event around my chocolate book, I’d love to come and also do a wine and chocolate pairing event in your area! 🙂

  29. Linda says:

    Oh Doreen, I think this is my favorite of your posts! (At the moment, anyway.) I love pairing red wine and dark chocolate. But you have raised some other interesting alternatives that I would not have considered, but they sound delightful.
    Linda recently posted…Part I; I am the Queen of England!My Profile

  30. I’m in the same boat as Heather but I do prefer white wines in general. Thanks for your ongoing updates and valuable information.

  31. Heather says:

    Hi Doreen, Thanks for including some white wines in your list. The tannin in red wine gives me migraines, so it’s white wine only for me. I like your champagne suggestions! 🙂

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