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Our Favorite New Pairing
Our Favorite New Pairing
Salted caramel chocolates and late harvest wines
Among the many glorious taste experiences at the Pebble Beach Food & Wine Festival, we discovered a dreamy new dessert and wine pairing: salted caramel chocolates and late harvest dessert wines.
Whether it’s Hungarian Tokaji Aszu, Canadian ice wine, Sauternes or late-harvest sauvignon blanc from California, these wines have concentrated flavors of honey, apricots and caramel balanced by bright acidity.
It may sound odd, but the complex pairing of salted caramel chocolate and dessert wine works for the same reasons we like the sweet fortified wine Port with chocolate or blue cheese. Chocolate has the tannic richness to complement a boldly flavored wine and the sweet caramel mirrors the wine’s luscious flavors. And just like the salt in blue cheese the salt in the caramel chocolates makes a pleasant contrast with sweet wine.
For our money, the best way to try salted caramel chocolate and late harvest dessert wine is with the Fleur de Sel Caramels by San Francisco chocolatier Michael Recchiuti. His caramel has a hint of bitterness and it’s enrobed in fine dark chocolate, so the flavor is tantalizing rather than cloying. But during exhaustive research for this piece with Robert Mondavi Winery Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc 2001 (Napa Valley), we found that the pairing also works well with the Trader Joe’s Caramel & Black Hawaiian Sea Salt bar and Ghirardelli Dark & Sea Salt Caramel Squares.
Stick to wines with more depth and slightly higher alcohol content like the ones below; dark chocolate and salt could gobsmack that elegant JJ Prüm Wehlener Sonnenuhr TBA Riesling you’ve been saving.
Here are some wines to try with salted caramel chocolate:
Robert Mondavi Winery Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc 2001 (Napa Valley, CA) $40 for the 375 milliliter half bottle. Botrytis turned sauvignon blanc grapes into this exciting wine oozing with flavors of stone fruits, orange zest and crème brûlée.
Disznoko Tokaji “5 Puttonyos” 2005 (Hungary) $40 for the 500 milliliter bottle. Made from dried (aszu) furmint, harslevelu and zeta grapes, this Tokaji bursts with caramel, honey and candied citrus.
Le Dauphin de Guiraud Sauternes 2004 (Bordeaux, France) $19 for the 375 milliliter half bottle. Value Sauternes sounds like an oxymoron, but that’s exactly what this second label from the First Growth Chateau Guiraud is. The Dauphin offers that same intensity laced with apricot and sweet lemon, at an even sweeter price.
Inniskillin Vidal Sparkling Ice Wine 2004 (Ontario, Niagara, Canada)$60 for the 375 milliliter half bottle. Vidal is a cold-climate grape ideal for making Canada’s famous ice wine. It’s even more mind-blowing with bubbles.
What's your favorite chocolate wine pairing? Tell us below!