As the holidays approach and people shift into celebration mode, we get asked variations on this question more than ever: "What wines should I pair with South 'n France bon bons?" In response to your requests, we created a little bon bon instruction guide to point you in the right direction.
Shun the Champagne: We know what you're thinking...."Are you kidding? Champagne and bon bons are the ultimate in decadence, romance, and luxurious living. And, isn't that hypocritical advice considering the fact that you hosted Champagne and Bon Bon Parties for years?" Yes and no. When done right, bon bons and bubbly are indeed the ultimate combination, but not all champagnes (or sparkling wines) pair well with chocolate as it as at once sweet and bitter. Dry champagne has its own acidity and bitterness that crushes the taste of the chocolate, creating conflict and chaos for your tastebuds.
For best results, when eating any chocolate, choose sweet champagne (demi-sec or doux), rosé champagne, or the Italian sparkling wine, Brachetto d’Acqui, which is red, bubbly and sweet. In the same vein, a sparkling Shiraz would also work. For a specific example, NV Moet & Chandon Nectar Imperial Rosé goes beautifully with our Coconut Bon Bon.
Seek the Sweet: Port and dessert wines are the best choice when eating chocolate. Because chocolate coats your mouth when you eat it, the paired wine should be intense enough to cut through the chocolatey richness. If you choose a wine that is perceived as sweeter than the chocolate, it will do just that. Furthermore, fortified fruity wines like Banyuls (AOC) and non-vintage or tawny ports have softer, rounder tannins and cocoa or chocolate notes that complement chocolate. (Banyuls is a sweet but not syrupy Southern French dessert wine with notes of espresso, plums, and mocha.) Like champagne, vintage ports are tricky because their high sugar and alcohol content can overwhelm the chocolate.
Pair Like with Like (or Its Complete Opposite): Both wines and chocolate have "notes", or tastes and aromas that create the harmonious symphony that happens in your mouth when you enjoy them. Think of flavors like the color wheel. In color theory, you either pair similar colors or you match complete opposites (blue and gray, black and white, you get the idea). Try looking for a wine that either "matches" the flavors of the chocolate you are eating or provides a complete contrast. For example, if you're eating a Coconut Bon Bon, match it with a wine that has notes of tropical fruits. Or, if you're eating a Peanut Buttah Bon Bon, contrast it with a wine that has fruity citrus notes. You can also pair nutty bon bons with Orange Muscat dessert wine. (Think Fruit & Nut Chocolate Bar and you get the idea...) Pascal LOVES to have Grand Marnier (an orange liqueur) with the Peanut Buttah bon bons.
Be Bold: Big, bold wines like Bordeaux (example: Cabernet Sauvignon) are beautiful on their own and a great choice for our semi-sweet chocolate covered bon bons. They have fruity, peppery, grapey notes, and guess what? So does chocolate! Also, try Syrah/Shiraz, Malbec, or Merlot, a lush red wine with plum, black cherry, & caramel notes.
Candy is Dandy, But Liqueur...: Cognac, Armagnac and chocolate and cream liqueurs that pair well with coffee will also complement bon bons, and our Café Au Lait Bon Bon in particular. Think: Frangelico, Amaretto,Kahlua, and Gran Marnier, to name a few.
Trust Your Tastebuds: In the end, only you can decide what tastes best. Experiment, experiment, experiment, and all the while, let your taste buds lead the way! Remember these guidelines for the ideal savoring experience: coat your mouth with the wine and allow it to saturate your mouth before biting into the chocolate; then, let the chocolate slowly melt in your mouth; follow up with more wine. Repeat as often as you like!
We hope you enjoy pairing wines with bon bons during your holiday celebrations or any time of the year! And, as always, drink responsibly and don't drink and drive.