The right way to pair your Dayton chocolate with wine

Wine and chocolate would seem a perfect fit for Valentine’s Day, but that relationship is sometimes more passionate than permanent.

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Turns out not all matches are made in heaven, including chocolate and wine. As much as we’d all like for Champagne to pair perfectly with chocolate, for example, the sparkling wine usually just turns sour. But the good pairings can be really, really good, and that can make up for a few bum matchups.

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We turned to a couple of local experts on chocolate-wine pairings for some guidance.

John Walusis, who co-founded Madame Delluc Artisan Chocolatier shop at 2510 Far Hills Ave. in Oakwood, said pairing wine with chocolate "can be one of the best food experiences a person can have. The two are a natural fit." Madame Delluc is the first shop in the U.S. for the Belgium-based Mary Chocolatier.

Walusis offered a few guidelines for wine-chocolate pairings:

• Start with a high quality chocolate.

• The wine should, in general, be sweeter than the chocolate.

• A smoother wine will match best with the smoothness of a high quality chocolate.

• Experiment to find out what works best, and have fun.

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Walusis said dark chocolates, including those flavored with raspberry, pair well with full-bodied red Bordeaux or California merlot. A sweeter-styled, bold Port is another classic pairing for dark chocolate — and is a great choice for an after-dinner indulgence, he said.

Milk chocolate is more difficult to pair with wine because of its sweetness, but can go well with a cream sherry or an aged vintage Port. White chocolate — which Walusis pointed out is technically not chocolate because it doesn’t have any cocoa in it — can go well with an Ice Wine or a sweet Moscato.

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Ben Czajka oversees three Dayton-area Winans Fine Chocolates and Coffee locations that sell wine — near the Dayton Mall, near the Mall at Fairfield Commons, and in the Greene Town Center — and has offered wine-chocolate pairings in his two mall stores.

Czajka likes sweeter-styled white wines that pair well with caramel- and nut-based chocolates, such as chocolate-covered pecan caramels. Butter creams can match up nicely with ripe chardonnays, he said.

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With red wines, “the drier you go with the wine, the darker you go with the chocolate,” Czajka said.

One pairing that doesn’t sound appealing to most — mint chocolates with dry, tannic reds — works better than expected.

“People are shocked by how well it goes together,” Czajka said.

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