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Oct 8, 2007 04:27 PM

Pairing for an all chocolate dinner

I'm trying to design an entire dinner based around chocolate. I plan on doing five courses, but since it is just me an my wife, 3 bottles of wine is probably about all I want to drink, so I need to do double duty with some of the wines. I could probably do 4 bottles if I can't make more than one do double duty.

The first course is definitely going to be white chocolate with caviar. I figure a champagne or sparkler will go well here.

I plan on doing some sort of salad for the second course. Maybe beets and blood orange with a champagne vinaigrette and shaved dark chocolate. Do you think the champagne could stand up to this? I'm also considering a roasted cauliflower with chocolate jelly here. I don't know if that would be a better match to the wine or not.

Next I'm doing a hanger steak with a chocolate/soy/onion/Szechuan peppercorn gravy. This just screams syrah to me. Any other thoughts?

Finally I'm doing a dessert and a cheese course. The dessert is going to be a vanilla caramel corn with cocoa nibs. The cheese course is going to be a gorgonzola ganache truffle rolled in blue cheese powder. I'm thinking a BA riesling or a Sauternes here.

Any thoughts or comments? Where i'm really lost is the 2nd course. I think the salad would work with the champagne, but unsure of the cauliflower. Would that go better with the syrah?

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  1. I know that some people think Cabernet and chocolate work well together; others think Zinfandel and chocolate . . . But being someone who thinks that chocolate and wine is generally a ***horrible*** match, I'll pass and let others chime in . . . .

    3 Replies
    1. re: zin1953

      That was very restrained, I was going to tell the OP to duck a bit on this pairing request.

      In the past, I have found that people seem to like Zinfandels, especially California Zinfindels with chocolate.

      1. re: ccbweb

        I admit loving some chocolate overtones in some heavy California Zinfandels but I would never waste a good bottle of Zinfandel on a chocolate meal. I think it is a total waste of wine.

        1. re: olasek

          For this menu, I would definitely try a Late Harvest zinfandel with the last dish (the gorgonzola ganaches...)

          Not saying it would be a great match, but the potential is there, IMO.

    2. With all due respect... I'd suggest chocolate wine:

      1. This sounds great - can I crash your dinner? I really like chocolate with red wine - especially dark chocolate with a rich, smooth Cab or Zin.

        I've never tried wine with white chocolate, but I think it's a good idea. Alone, the white chocolate might be too sweet for champagne, but combining it with something salty sounds like a good idea. The steak with syrah sounds OK, especially if it's a really smooth, rich syrah (if it's too tannic, it might fight with the chocolate a bit). But me, I'd probably go for a Cab. For the cheese course, I'd be tempted to try a port (that's another wine I really like with chocolate).

        But take my tastebuds with a large grain of salt - my wine-drinking friends usually disagree with me.

        Have fun!


        P.S. You've probably already done lots of research, but in case you haven't seen this link, it's a great one:

        And here's a wine pairing for chocolate Easter bunnies(!)

        1 Reply
        1. re: AnneInMpls

          P.S. About the salad pairing:

          I wouldn't worry about it - either the appetizer wine will work, or it won't, but the classic pairing for salad is "no wine." So pour extra app wine for those who'd like it, and make sure everyone's water glass is topped up.

          I'd love to hear a report on your dinner - what you chose, and how it worked or didn't.


        2. Gorilla, u must have alot of time on your hands :)

          Here's how I'd pair it, with a few suggested tweaks to bring the dishes around to the wines

          1) WHITE CHOCOLATE w/ CAVIAR. Despite the affinity of "champagne" for caviar, I don't think it's the best sparkler for Chocolate, but we could do some things there.

          Before Champagne, however, I'd definitely recommend Moscato d'Asti here. It's the lightest of the Muscat family, and nearly the perfect match for white chocolate.

          Now, the essence I'd like to interject here is pear... either a spritz of pear nectar over the whole dish, or served alongside poached pears, something of that nature. Perhaps caviar in pear "boats", drizzled with white chocolate ? .... Even just wedges of sweet, ripe fresh pear. It matches both the caviar and white chocolate, and especially cements the connection to Moscato d' Asti. So, some combo of White chocolate, Caviar, and Pear, served w/ Moscato d' Asti for your opener.

          If you insist on "champagne", then I'd definitely prefer a chardonnay champagne... and bring in some butter and/or walnut essence here. So White chocolate dish w/ walnuts topped with caviar and a drizzle of sweet butter-cream sauce. This should actually match a chardonnay champagne quite nicely.

          2) SALAD. Deconstructing this dish points me in a fairly clear direction....

          Blood Orange is a great match for Sauternes and all varieties of sweet muscat wines while "Dark Chocolate" is a standout match for heavier muscats (black, liqueur, orange), and tawny port.

          The obvious common thread btw Blood Orange and Dark chocolate is heavier muscat... SO, how do we tie the dish together as a salad? Match it with a tremendously muscat-friendly vegetable... Carrot!!

          So, instead of Beets & Orange, make it carrot and Orange Salad with Shaved Dark chocolate and pair it with a heavier dessert muscat of your choice.

          Design your dressing with notes of ginger, cinnamon, and or pear (if you haven't already used the pear theme in the first dish). No vinegar please.


          Thanks for an easy one :) I'd match this with Syrah. If you can, please grill the steak to bring it a bit closer to the wine.


          This is an interesting dish. Vanilla is a tremendous match for Pedro Ximenez sherries, Muscats (again), Sauternes, and LHarvest Rieslings. When I think of caramel I love matching muscat, Madeira, and Sauternes there...

          What for both Vanilla & Caramel ? A very special wine really pops out for me... Malaga.... and Malaga is a nice match for "chocolate" in general as well.... go with it here.

          5) GORGONZOLA GANACHES w/ Blue Cheese dusting....

          There's a couple ways to go here...

          A) if your chocolate is cows milk, then you really should match it with Gorgonzola and the better match here is probably vintage or tawny port...

          B) if you can do a sheeps milk chocolate, which would be a really cool item for this tasting, then match it with a blue sheeps milk cheese instead.... roquefort... and serve it with Sauternes...

          Enjoy and please report back on this very interesting dinner.