Chocolate, Cheese + Bubbles
The D-I-Y Version
Every year for Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, we host a “Bubbles, Chocolate and Cheese” pairing class. We’ve been fortunate for the past two years to have been able to convince our local chocolate expert Pashmina, founder of the chocolate subscription company Choco Rush. Pashmina is as passionate about chocolate as we are about wine. And when we get together, we totally geek out in a foodie way.
But we know that our classes sell out quickly, so even if you didn’t snag a ticket, we’re going to give you some basics and the pairings we’ll be featuring in our upcoming class so you can re-create the pairings at home. Trust us, grab a bottle of champagne and these cheese and chocolates and you’ve got the date night to end all date nights.
Pairing Cheese + Chocolate
Pairing chocolate and cheese doesn’t automatically come to mind as a good thing to do, but If you think about it, it makes sense. Chocolate + cheese share many of the same flavor qualities – rich, bold, robust, creamy. The hint of salt in cheese perfectly balances the roasty saltiness of chocolate.
It’s a little tougher to get a good chocolate and cheese pairing right than say a cheese and champagne pairing, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth pursuing.
Here are some tips on pairing chocolate and cheese.
- Pair by flavor intensity: A robust dark chocolate needs the concentrated, intense flavors of a dried and aged cheese to avoid being overwhelmed. A lighter milk chocolate can pair with a milder, younger, buttery cheese.
- Pair based on complementary flavors. Dark chocolate gets more bitter and fruity as its cacao percentage increases. Pair it with a sharp aged cheese, or a fruity Taleggio, or even a cave aged cheeses to complement the chocolate’s earthy flavor. A sweet, creamy milk chocolate brings out the natural sweetness in a cheese like a Gorgonzola Dolce.
- Pair based on contrasting flavors and textures. Milk chocolate can be very sweet, which makes it a good foil for tangy cheeses like Robiola. Something rich, like truffles, needs a sharper or drier cheese to cut through the fattiness.
- Taste is just a matter of taste: There are no rules or wrong answers when pairing chocolate with cheese. Everyone’s palate is different and what goes together in theory might not work for you. The real fun is to just start experimenting. And what better excuse to eat more chocolate and cheese?
When tasting cheese + chocolate, you want to:
- Start with savory and then switch to sweet since the sweetness of chocolate can sometimes overwhelm the palate. So start with the cheese and then taste the chocolate. And start with the dark chocolate pairings and then move to milk chocolate.
- Portion Your Pairings. Chocolate is a strong taste and it can overwhelm the cheese. To avoid that, try about twice as much cheese and chocolate in order to fully appreciate the flavor profile of both.
- Clear Your Palate. You’re combining two really strong flavors. We recommend having some water or a crusty baguette nearby to cleanse your palate between tastings.
Pairing Cheese + Champagne
While pairing cheese and chocolate can be a little challenging, pairing cheese and champagne is really easy. Unlike red and white wine, which want specific cheese pairings, there are very few cheeses that don’t go with champagne. That’s because the bubbles cut through the fat of the cheese.
The only real tip is to match your cheese and sparkling wine based on similarities. So, the stronger the cheese, the more powerful champagne you need.
Shingleback Black Bubbles Sparkling Shiraz
Alpha Tolman (Vermont, Raw Cow)
Fruition Brown Butter Milk Chocolate (43%, Dominican Republic) (New York)
Parmigiano Reggiano (Italy, Raw Cow)
Nova (75%, Nicaragua and Ecuador) (Denver)
Invierno (Vermont, Raw Sheep)
Madecasse Salted Almond (63%, Madegascar) (Brooklyn
BONUS ROUND: Naveran Cava
Invierno Rind (Yep, rind!)
Ritual Balao (75% Ecuador) (Utah)
Elio Perrone Moscato d’Asti Sourgal
Gorgonzola Dolce (Italy, Cow)
Original Beans Bene Wild Harvest (66%, Bolivia) (Amsterdam)
Champagne Deutz Brut Classic
Delice de Bourgogne (France, Cow)
Valrhona Manjari (64%, Madegascar) (France)
Domaine Huet Sparkling Vouvrey
Humboldt Fog (California, Goat Milk)
Helliemae’s Whiskey Love Bomb Caramel (Denver!)