There’s a chance I just dreamt this, but I could’ve sworn I heard murmurs of white wine hot chocolate becoming a “thing” last month. I’ve had a difficult time corroborating this. I spoke to the scribe of the now-viral red wine hot chocolate recipe, lifestyle blogger Kylie Mitchell, last month. I reached out to her again a few weeks back, she who lays claim to this recipe, asking whether she’s seen this that may or may not exist. She didn’t respond.
Google hasn’t helped, either. Searching the phrase “white wine hot chocolate,” bracketed in quotes, yields a measly six results. The phrases “white wine” and “hot chocolate”, decoupled? I get many more hits, but exactly zero that put these two ingredients in concert. Okay. How about “white wine in hot chocolate”? About 0 results. “Hot chocolate with white wine?” Nothing.
I'm certain that my belief that white wine hot chocolate exists wasn’t the product of some hallucinatory fit. Anna Hezel, who’s a frequent contributor for Food52, even attested to the fact that she'd seen this recipe, too. Earlier this month, on Twitter, she posted the following:
I am excited for 2017 because I just got an Instagram ad for hot chocolate with white wine in it and things can only get better from here.— Anna Hezel (@HezelAnna) January 5, 2017
Anna! This was incredible news. I had to write her, asking if she knew the company responsible for posting this advertisement. She told me that she'd been rummaging through Instagram trying to find it with no luck. All she remembered was that this ad came from a wine brand selling three fun, gross wine ideas, including a white wine hot chocolate recipe. "I will hit you up if I think of who it was," she promised me.
Amazingly, Anna hasn’t “hit” me up since. So that sucks.
For a week, I scrolled through Instagram every few hours, trying in earnest to find this ad. I couldn’t. No one else in my personal life had seen this ad, either.
So I decided to try white wine hot chocolate for myself. I figured I was as good a person as any to test this recipe. I’m no purist, after all. Hot chocolate is fine; it’s something I drink every few months. White wine is also fine; it’s something I drink every few days. I wasn’t predisposed to view the union of these two flavors as some kind of gastronomic war crime.
So, yesterday afternoon, I took our in-house Perfect Hot Chocolate recipe and got a svelte bottle of Langhe Arneis. I poured some of the white wine into the cup and stirred daintily, as if it were Metamucil. And then I smelled it.
What’s the least appealing wood? Molten pinewood? Firewood? Whatever it is, well, that's how this drink smells. I know you're thinking there's nothing terribly surprising about this pungency; these are two plainly discordant flavors, after all. You know the old proverb, though: Don't judge a drink by its odor. So I began drinking it. For those who may believe that the light, airy wine could offer a veritable counterweight to the clotted consistency of hot chocolate, stop. You’re dead wrong. I’m afraid I gave up after a few sips. I offered a sip to my colleague who is also my boss, Kenzi, who said it wasn’t “as bad” as she thought it’d be.
Kenzi, we’re not grading on a curve here. According to my principled verdict, white wine hot chocolate is not very good.
Should white wine chocolate become a thing? I’m going to go ahead and say hell no. But what do I know? I’m a journalist, not a recipe tester. I turned to an expert, Philadelphia-based wine sommelier Michael McCaulley of Tria. He’s been selling a house-made hot cocoa, blended with Malbec wine and topped with mini marshmallows, since last month. It’s been a real hit. For every patron who gawks at the union of these two ingredients, there's a slew of others who leap to this drink's defense.
“There’s a natural synergy between red wine and hot cocoa, with both considered perfect cold-weather drinks," McCaulley explained to me. "We also found, as we worked out the recipe, that chilled wine could cause the cocoa to separate—not ideal! So for now, we’re sticking to red wine hot cocoa. But we never say never. A floral Riesling or an oaky Chardonnay might work beautifully with, say, a white chocolate hot cocoa.”
White chocolate hot chocolate with white wine? Never thought of it, Michael! Maybe I'll try it. But that's for another time.
Would you ever put white wine in hot chocolate? Or, better yet, have you? Let us know in the comments.