Following in the footsteps of boozy eggnog, hot toddies, Irish cream and mulled wine, the currently-trending red wine hot chocolate is the unexpected superstar of mugs around the world this winter. Now, if you (like us) thought upon reading “red wine hot chocolate” all together as one phrase that both of things are already excellent on their own and needn’t be combined…well, we were with you.
One day, with open minds and a stray bottle of red wine kicking around (alternate text: an excuse to open said bottle at 3pm on a Wednesday), we decided to test out the validity of this trend that we’ve seen lately in the New York Times, Food & Wine, Forbes, Grubstreet and more.
How To Make Red Wine Hot Chocolate
1. Add red wine to hot chocolate.
2. Add toppings of your liking.
Yep, basically. Is there an exact science for how much wine to add? Nope. Add what you think tastes good. We poured in a healthy glug of red, sipped it, and went back for more wine. This isn’t an exact recipe, it’s just a thing that you may like based on your own taste buds. What we can recommend is the types of wine to try and not to try.
Checklist: Good Wines and Wine Traits for Red Wine Hot Chocolate
• Chocolatey, plummy grapes make the best additions to red wine hot chocolate. Examples: Malbec, Monastrell/Mouvedre, Grenache, Syrah/Shiraz. We used Nicodemi Montepulciano, available at our Franklin Bottle Shop, which is more of an earthy wine than anything, but it still worked nicely.
• Down for a splurge? Chateauneuf-du-Pape wines are the perfect addition, we’d imagine: silky, chocolatey notes, moderate acid and perfectly balanced. However, as some of the more expensive wine coming out of France…that may not be the best move. Italy’s Amarone wines have similar traits, and are also on the expensive side, but not as much so. We’d recommend just drinking these as they are instead of pouring them into hot chocolate, but to each his own.
• The #1 best choice for the $? Malbec. It’s naturally chocolatey, widely available, and fairly consistent. If you love old world wines, Cot is technically French Malbec, but originating from Cahors instead of Mendoza and other Argentinian countries.
• Fruit forward wines will pair better than overly tannic wines. Chocolate already has some natural tannin; adding Cabernet or similarly tannic wines will make you pucker unpleasantly, and probably leave you wanting to brush your teeth more than anything.
• Higher alcohol wines (13-14% and above) have enough body and heft to stand up to warm milky chocolate. If you pick too low in ABV of a red wine, the chocolate may stomp all over it. Read the wine label for secure combo bevving.
• Speaking of high alcohol – get fortified! Banyuls wine in particular is fortified Grenache from Southern France. It’s been said to taste like a Raisinette, and boy does it. This will make for a doozy of a wine and makes for a fun hot chocolate cocktail.
Whatever delicious things that you try out, let us know in the comments!