Chocolate and Wine: Chocolate goes with EVERYTHING

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chocolate and wine, francine segan, the three tomatoesThey’re big into pairing chocolate with wine over in Italy. Chocolate is great eaten all by itself, but it’s even better to nibble on while sipping something wonderful.

I thought chocolate was the pretty perfect food but when I tasted it with Italian red wines I flipped. The wine really brings out the wonderful fruity taste in fine chocolate. Next time you dive into a box of chocolates try them with one of these great Italian wines and after dinner drinks like:

wine and chocolate, italian wines, francine segan, the three tomatoes

Asti Spumante: a fragrant, low alcohol, easy-to-drink sparkling dessert wine. Wonderful with milk and white chocolate. 

chocolate and wine, italian wines, francine segan, the three tomatoes

Asti Moscato: less bubbly than Asti-Spumante but just as great with chocolate.

Barolo Chinato: made with Barolo wine that has been steeped with different spices such as cinnamon, coriander, mint, and vanilla. It is a very smooth, aromatic and pairs beautifully with dark chocolate. It’s so popular in Italy that wine shops there sell it with little edible chocolate cups. 

Brachetto d’Acqui: red sparkling dessert wine produced in the Piedmont. Amazing with any sort of chocolate dessert. 

Grappa:  distilled spirit made from the grape skins and other leftovers from the wine making process, and in fact, the word, grappa, comes from the Italian for bunch of grapes, grappolo d’uva. 

In Italy grappa is enjoyed with a piece of dark chocolate served in small, tulip-shaped or short grappa glasses. A splash of grappa is added to espresso to create caffé corretto.  

Limoncello: a lemon liqueur from southern Italy made by steeping lemon peels in alcohol and sugar. Sip it with dark chocolate or add a splash to melted chocolate and dip in your favorite fruit. 

Marsala: a golden-colored fortified wine made with grapes grown in the Marsala region of Sicily. Marsala is made both sweet and dry versions. The dry is enjoyed chilled as an aperitif, while the sweet is sipped at room temperature as a dessert wine. 

I learned how to make a great chocolate-red wine cake when I was invited to a dinner in Italy organized by Home Food Italy (, a fascinating network of Italian women who open their homes once a month or so to foreign visitors. 

It is dense and firm with a just-right hint of red wine fruitiness. In Italy the cake is usually accompanied by a glass of dry red wine.  In fact, Italians will often prepare it when they’ll be serving red wine with dinner, so guests can continue drinking their dinner wine during dessert.

This chocolate red wine cake is the perfect dessert to keep guests happily nibbling, sipping and chatting long after the meal ends.

Red Wine Chocolate Cake

Torta al vino rosso

Serves 8

Dense and firm with a just-right hint of wine flavor.

  • 8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 5 ounces dark chocolate, grated on a cheese grater
  • 1 cup dry red wine or Barolo chinato  
  • 7 ounces (about 1 3/4 cup) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a standard 12 cup spring form cake pan.

In a large bowl, using a whisk or electric hand mixer, beat the butter and 1/2 cup of the sugar until creamy, then beat in the yolks.

Add the grated chocolate and wine to the mixture, beating until just combined. Slowly beat in the flour and baking powder until well combined.

In another bowl with thoroughly clean and dry beaters, beat the reserved egg whites and the remaining sugar to stiff peaks. Fold them into the batter and pour the mixture into the prepared Bundt pan. Bake for about 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.


  • Francine Segan

    Francine Segan, James Beard finalist and author of 6 cookbooks, can be found throughout NYC giving fun talks and cooking demos. She’s a regular at the 92nd St Y, Eataly’s cooking school, Chocolate Show, and New York Times Travel Show. Her specialty is Italy and her latest books are Pasta Modern: New & Inspired Recipes from Italy and Dolci: Italy’s Sweets . She has appeared on numerous TV programs including Today Show, Early Show and Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood. Peek at for more info on her books & upcoming talks Visit Francine at:

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