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Wine suggestions for chocolates tasting

Hi y'all,

I recently indulged in a good assortment of Vosges www.vosgeschocolate.com
chocolates for tasting with wine.

Here's what I have:

Mo's Bacon Bar (Applewood smoked bacon, alder wood smoked salt, 41% cacao deep milk chocolate) to be paired with a 2004 Ebano Ribera del Duero Temperanillo

Here's what I need pairings for:

Barcelona Bar -- hickory smoked almonds, grey sea salt, 41% deep milk chocolate
Naga Bar -- sweet Indian curry powder, coconut flakes, 41% deep milk chocolate
Red Fire Bar -- Mexican ancho & chipotle chiles, Ceylon cinnamon, 55% deep chocolate
Black Pearl Bar -- wasabi, ginger, black sesame seeds, 55% dark chocolate
Creole Bar -- espresso, cocoa nibs, New Orleans style chicory, 70% Sao Thome bittersweet chocolate

Thanks in advance for the recommendations and I'll be sure to report back.

(I tasted the bacon bar already, and wow! it's tasty and bacony! Can't wait to taste it with the wine.

)

Oh, and let's keep the bottles under $25 each and if there's any bottles that you think would match more than one chocolate, even better!

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  1. I've tried many of the Vosges chocolate bars (and spent time with Katrina Markoff, Vosges's owner) and the flavor additions aren't enough to make the chocolate taste more savory than sweet. The dominant pairing still has to be to chocolate.

    I understand how you would want to pair a red wine with these chocolates, but most Vosges chocolate bars aren't dark or deep enough to merit a classic red wine pairing (which don't often work, and rarely work better than another wine choice).

    The parameters for a successful choc/red wine pairing are that the choc must be at least 70% cacao, and the red wine concentrated, almost inky. Something like a full-bodied, well-made Merlot or Cabernet. No light-, even medium-bodied, reds work.

    In the case of the bacon bar, the chocolate isn't bitter enough for it to work with red wine -- so much sugar is added to 41-55% cacao chocolate that it makes red wine taste sour. Sorry. Only the Creole bar with its 70% stands a chance of working.

    What WILL work is to shift your pairing slightly: For the 41 - 55% cacao bars you've listed, I'd recommend a Madeira (see the recent Maderia thread listed below) or Banyuls or a 100% Pedro Ximenez sherry or a 20-year-old tawny. All are far better than a red wine in this instance, and any of these four recs will work with all the choc bars you've listed.

    This subject has come up many times before on this board. Here are some previous threads, and the one on Maderia:

    Recent threads:
    Wine & chocolate pairing(s)?????
    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/396044
    Madeira under a $100
    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/411329
    Port rec
    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/375450
    and see this search
    http://www.chow.com/search?search%5Bq...

    1. I am certainly not a wine expert, but I was under the impression that just about "any" food can be paired well with wine -- fish, meats, fruits, pizza and burgers even. So I figure that something has to go well with these chocolates. I'm not super concerned about a "proper" tasting, just your opinions on what may compliment the flavors.

      Maria, I'll check those posts on Madiera, thanks for the links!

      1 Reply
      1. re: geg5150

        I, too, go with Madeira. Or Banyuls.

        Personally, after 3 years in the wine trade, I'm pretty much convinced that red wine and chocolate is a horrible combination.

        Jason

      2. BARCELONA: Late Harvest Riesling is my first choice. Moscato d'Asti would also be interesting, IMO. Could also do a Madeira but IMO the other 2 match the smoky hickory element better.

        NAGA: Late Harvest Gewurztraminer is first choice here given the curry notes.

        RED FIRE BAR: The same above two first choices: Late Harvest Riesling and/or Late Harvest Gewurztraminer! A Muscat might also be interesting given the cinnamon but IMO the riesling/gewurz better match BOTH the chiles and cinnamon.

        BLACK PEARL BAR: I just have to say the same 2 wines here given the wasabi. If we didn't have the wasabi then I'd be looking first to one of a number of Dessert Muscats...

        CREOLE BAR: Dessert Muscat is definitely my first choice here given the coffee and chocolate flavors. This COULD include Moscato d' Asti but ideally it would be a heavier offering (de Beaume de Venise or Liqueur Muscat for example.).

        SO, summarizing, it seems to me that you would cover all these offerings with 2 or 3 wines:

        1) Either a Late Harvest Riesling or Late Harvest Gewurztraminer or both (the LHR is probably more predictable)

        2) A dessert Muscat of your choice..;. a light sparkler and/or richer more raisined offering.

        There are varieties of all the above under or near your budget... Enjoy and please report back.

        8 Replies
        1. re: Chicago Mike

          Okay....some one has to say it; this represents an unappetizing exercise in foodie futility! It is not necessary to try and match wine with every food.

          Chocolate candy and wine do not work well together. Yes, there are desserts and savories where chocolate is an ingredient that pair fairly well with wines such as: older colheita ports, tawny ports, LBV's, madeiras, PX's and the like, but chocolate bars...especially very complex Vosges chocolate bars...no way! Pairing sweet white wines like those listed in the post above will result in a truly vile, sickly-sweet, unbalanced sludge on the palate. Sweet reds and fortified wines may fair a little better, but dry reds will be an abject disaster.

          Simpler chocolates can work with various liqueurs, rum, bourbon, even stouts and ales, but IMO, complicated choclates like Vosges are best enjoyed on their own.

          1. re: Vinny Barbaresco

            I'm no expert but I completely concur on this:

            "Okay....some one has to say it; this represents an unappetizing exercise in foodie futility! It is not necessary to try and match wine with every food.

            Chocolate candy and wine do not work well together."

            1. re: Vinny Barbaresco

              I have found that chocolates and ports pair very well (unlike chocolate and white sweet wines which just turn it into a "generic chocolate flavored wine".. might as well not have ingested either) and sometimes the chocolate even brings out flavors in the port. However, I would *never* drink an older colheita nor vintage with chocolate. You'd be utterly wasting the wonderful complexity of those ports.

            2. re: Chicago Mike

              In reference to choc and stickies, they don't usually work at all. I've tried.

              And Mike, BTW, none of the curry or wasabi or bacon or other notes in the Vosges bars are present to high enough a degree to "register" as that flavor -- so a pairing geared to curry (or another ingredient) won't work: the chocolate still dominates. .

              The game here is to to match 40-50% cacao choc -- meaning sweet choc-- to wine. Late-harvests work but only a little, not enough to call the combo outstanding. Malmsey/Bual Madeira, PX, 20-T, or Banyuls are outstanding, even remarkable. These are the wines to experience with chocolate and they outshine by far any dry red or sticky.

              1. re: maria lorraine

                The wines I listed all match the "base chocolate", they just match the added ingredients better than other wines that also match the base chocolate...

                If the added ingredients aren't prominent, then you should still have a serviceable match.

                Am I the only poster who likes Muscats with chocolate (of all %'s), btw ?

                FWIW, while I find that Banyuls and chocolate tolerate each other, IMO it's an over-rated food & wine match.

                1. re: Chicago Mike

                  Sorry, I disagree.

                  Botrytised wines, other late-harvests, muscat/moscato don't work well at all with chocolate. This is coming from a verifiable Botrytis lush, one who thinks a great Sauternes or Barsac or Dolce is the bee's knees. But they don't go with chocolate; their subtleties are drowned out by chocolate.

                  You're still free to enjoy the combo however.

                  If you don't like Banyuls, please try a Henrique & Henrique Malmsey Madeira or Venerable, the 100% PX Sherry, before dismissing madeira or PX as not as good as muscat. If you haven't tried the combo, then you haven't adequately explored the possibilities. Either of those two wines with chocolate is a hedonistic sensual pairing, one in which I have happily indulged on several Valentine Days.

                  1. re: Chicago Mike

                    >>> Am I the only poster who likes Muscats with chocolate (of all %'s), btw ? <<<

                    Probably not, Mike, but you may be the only one who has admitted it so far. ;^)

                    As I said in my first post in this thread, I don't think wine and chocolate works all that well, period. But the best match(es) that I've found -- that work for MY palate -- are Malmsey and/or Banyuls. As with all things, howwever, YMMV.

                  2. re: maria lorraine

                    i would also agree that for chocolate no white dessert wines will do what you are looking for...
                    the banyuls, port, madeira suggestions all work much better.
                    i'd even try braccheto (marenco) or for something really interesting try birbet, malvira produces one that shouldn't be too hard to find

                2. I have been in the food and wine trade for 12 years and I have specialized in both areas (in chocolate and in wines). I have one word for you and that is "NO". They don't go well together at all. They don't naturally work well together and they won't. So my advise is don't waste good wine or chocolate on each other.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: domeire

                    I have to agree and disagree. Red wines, especially ones that are even somewhat tannic do not go well with chocolate as the chocolate just brings out the tannins. However, dessert wines, late harvest wines, icewines, and especially a good Port are wonderful with chocolate. With the Vosges I'd recommend a good vintage port.

                    1. re: dinwiddie

                      I would concur with the majority on this...forget any dry red pairing...Banyuls is the only wine I've had that comes close to being an acceptable match and even then it's hit or miss...choc pudding/cake definitely but with those vosges choc bars...hmm...risky...

                      1. re: Scotty100

                        What about coffee pairings with those chocolates? Might work better than wine?

                        1. re: anewton

                          We have a winner here! Give this person a cigar! Finally a voice of reason; while others may suggest "servicable matches" (I will again mention that IMO chocolate and wine suck together) this person suggests an obvious and correct solution...COFFEE! Coffee and chocolate are freakin' wonderful together.

                  2. A few of the wineries we've visitied in Canada told my mother that their ice wines go well with chocolate. She seems to think the pairing is divine.

                    I find it ghastly.

                    Seems to be one of the few ways to take two things that are quite delicious and complex on their own and zap all the delicacies out of them.

                    1. a few years back i hosted a tasting pairing scotch with chocolate, and it was a great success. several experiments with wine and chocolate have proven to be largely unsuccessful. heavy red sweet wines seem to be the way to go, as most people have recommended. an over the top, super extracted, american cabernet sometimes works (i suspect some wineries use chocolate flavored yeast), but i wouldn't do it with any of the spicy chocolates, some of those vosges bars are pretty intense. spicy + tannins = yuck. i want bacon chocolate!

                      1. Banyuls. I recently had the Domaine de la Rectorie Mute Sur Grains Banyuls 2004, Roussillon. It was served with the dessert course at a special Bastille Day dinner. Fabulous with chocolate, esp. dark chocolate.

                        1. On my way to agreeing with Vinny Barbaresco above...
                          I've enjoyed many of the Vosges chocolate bars and I am considering that they are best enjoyed alone. With all the unusual flavor combos happening, I think the focus is to be amazed at what oddball ingredients go well with chocolate -- the salty smokiness of bacon with the luscious milk chocolate, for example -- and leave it at that. No beverage is required, or actually needed, and may even diminish the chocolate/"unusual ingredient" flavor experience.

                          1. Wine and chocolate are not soulmates. You really can't expect a marriage made in heaven -- a shotgun marriage is more like it. Water, tea, coffee, kirsch, rum and even Pineau de Charentes are often better choices. What's more, the pairings that work best -- Banuyls (especially the *rancio* style), Maury, Madeira, tawny port and, yes, provided the dessert isn't very sweet and orange is a dominant flavour, late-harvest muscat -- really only do so with chocolate desserts (cakes, mousses, souffl├ęs, etc., in which the chocolate is "softened" by fats and other ingredients), not chocolate candies. Pedro Ximenez can easily hold its own with chocolate truffles and the like but would risk pushing the subtleties of your selection into the background. Were I in your shoes, I'd be pouring cups of tea, probably a light Ceylon or a robust Oolong.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: carswell

                              Yexs, teas can be an excellent pairing; a fruity oolong with a fruity venzuelan for example, for a young smokey pu-erh with something more woodsy, like those from ecuador.

                            2. It looks like this is indeed a dead experiment. I think we'll have a chocolate tasting and then a separate wine tasting with the four lovely bottles I bought this week.

                              Have a great weekend and thanks for talking me out of what could have been a fery expensive and not so tasty event.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: geg5150

                                What had you purchased? For curiosity's sake...:)

                              2. Scanning all the suggestions posted, I didn't see whether anyone mentioned Brachetto. The raspberry tanginess goes very well with chocolate.

                                I totally disagree that no wine works with chocolate. An argument could be made that other beverages (a nice stout, perhaps?) might pair BETTER than wine, though!

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: kenito799

                                  Brachetto d'Acqui goes well with desserts made with chocolate, but not with chocolate alone, IMO. It is a lovely pairing sometimes, but not the one for this.

                                  Once, with the Pete of Pete's Wicked Ale (he sold his brewery at a great profit), I tasted stouts with a few different candy bars. Going into the tasting, I was a total skeptic. Some of the pairings were a great success and surprise -- especially stout with a Butterfinger-type candy bar. Pete learned part of his beer-making expertise in Belgium, where, besides beer, the other great product is chocolate. He'd experienced the combo there and then finessed the pairings. To this day, I wouldn't choose stout (I'm a wine-head) but I was surprised it worked.

                                  1. re: kenito799

                                    This is at least the second suggestion of stout, and being a major stout fan I'm curious....

                                    Might I recommend to anyone trying this, that you go for a very unique stout called "Dogfish Worldwide"... it is around 18% ABV and tastes very port-like. If you were to serve it to someone the last thing they'd guess is that it's a beer...

                                    Also, among regular-strength stouts I'm wondering if chocolate would pair better with a "chocolate-cherry" dominated variety (like, say, Victory Storm King or Rogue Chocolate Stout), or a more "tar" dominated variety like North Coast Old Rasputin... your thoughts ?

                                  2. One valentine's day a few years back, Boule, a local LA chocolate boutique, did a wine and chocolate pairing. The pairings were designed by the sommalier at an LA restaraunt called Sona (owned by the same people who owned boule)

                                    They were very good, actually. But I forget what they all were. many were on the sweeter sida, a champagne, a muscat, a gwurtz, a riesling, a red, a port..and, and...well, it was years ago, I forget.