I wrote about wine for nearly 40 years; I no longer do. Nevertheless, while you can lead the horse away from the water, you can’t get rid of the water that’s already in the horse.

I still know something about wine, and so people still ask me a lot of questions about it. This time of year, many, many people ask me about wine and chocolate.

“I’m having a wine and chocolate party,” they’ll say. “What pairings would work?” Or, “I’m giving a present of chocolate and want to include a wine to have with it; what do I buy?” Or, “What wine do I get for our Christmas dinner chocolate dessert?”

My answer to their queries always — always — lets them down. They don’t want my answer; they want their answer.

They want me to respond, “Oh, a nice soft merlot or malbec would be nice. You know, they even have nuances of chocolate in their aromas and tastes.” Or they want me to say, “Try a juicy pinot noir; it’s like the cherries inside a bonbon.” Or, they’d love to hear, “A Champagne would be nice; it’s that time of year.”

But what they hear from me is this: “Most wines, red or white, still or sparkling, truly do not taste good with chocolate. Some make the combination awful. The only wines that regularly accompany chocolate well are noticeably sweet wines.”

We don’t think of chocolate as a food; we think of it as an experience. And, consequently, the last things we want to drink with it are wines that we consider bad experiences: sweet wines, at one end are for the novice wine drinker only, at the other for little old ladies in Boca.

But chocolate is a food, and guidelines that help us to profitably pair wine and food ought rule here as well.

Nearly all chocolate is sweet, even so-called “bittersweet” chocolate. Pure, unadulterated cacao (unprocessed cocoa or chocolate) is unpalatable in quantity. To make it delicious, sugar helps much; much sugar helps more.

Even that bittersweet chocolate contains around 20 percent sugar. And that makes it, as a food to pair with wine, sweet. Sweet foods prefer pairing with sweet wines, of the same measure of sugar or sweetness in both — an apple tart, say, with a demi-sec Champagne.

Think of polar opposites. Would you eat a scoop of vanilla ice cream with a stone-dry Chablis?