There is one standby that works wonders with most chocolate: the sweet red wine Banyuls from Southern France. Banyuls is a small wine-producing region hard up on France's Border with Spain, which may explain why they do such a great job with Grenache, or Garnacha as is called in Spain.
This tiny appellation is responsible for one of the world’s great gifts to Chocolate lovers: the sweet wines of Banyuls, a great alternative to Port.
Based on the Grenache grape, Wine seems to have the elusive balance of fruit, sugar, acidity and tannin that makes it chocolate’s perfect partner.
Similar to Banyuls and other wines of garnache grapes is Port -- in particular, the fruity style of port referred to as Ruby Port, which accounts for most of the branded port wines.
So, what is it about chocolate that makes it so hard to pair?
Well, for starters there’s all that sugar and sugar generally requires sugar to achieve a balanced food and wine pairing. In addition, sugar can highlight the acid of a particularly high-acid wine, while at the same time it can make a low-acid wine seem remarkably dull and flat.
One of the keys to pairing food and wines is trying to align the intensities of both. In this case we have both texture and the balance of sweet and bitter to deal with, so you can see how this might end up being a difficult pairing to work with. That’s why going with Banyuls or a similar Grenache wine is such an easy fall back.
Grenache is well suited to chocolate because of its fruity character, obvious but balanced sweetness, slight tannic edge and overall rich mouthfeel -- four elements that have to be taken into account to make the match work. If you’re not into Grenache, other wines can work with chocolates, but each type of chocolate might require a more specific recommendation.