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Any advice on pairing chocolate with wine?

I am new to this blog. I am looking for ideas on pairing chocolate with wine. I have read so much on food pairing, but not chocolate pairing.
Can anyone suggest either a book, or website for info?

thanks for any feedback

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  1. Don't look at me -- aside from Banyuls, I don't think wine and chocolate work together. YMMV

    1. The only book that I know that talks about wine (beer) and chocolate pairings is Andrew Garrison Shotts book Making Artisan Chocolates, and it gives decent advice. The best one is to try everything. Because wine is a balance between acidity, sugar and aromas, the affects on a particular chocolate can vary from producer, even year to year.

      4 Replies
      1. re: chocolateman

        Thank you for the advice. I have heard that some people prefer chocolate with wine....
        I will get his book.


        1. re: reachthemcneals

          What Zin said too.

          Chocolate and red wine rarely work, and when they do, it's never a great pairing. The sweetness of the chocolate kills any pairing, generally -- the wine tastes sour as a result.

          However, I have had successful pairings of dark chocolate with Malmsey Madeira, PX Sherry -- my favorite is probably Venerable, and Vintage Port. Banyuls also. These wines can handle the modicum of sugar found in dark chocolate.

          1. re: maria lorraine

            Is it just the sugar in chocolate that clashes with wine, or is it the incredibly strong tannins? I find dark chocolate just coats my entire mouth with powerful tannins; my favourite drink of choice between bites of chocolate is actually water!

            On the other hand, some incredibly sweet desserts (i.e. creme brulee) are not all that difficult to bear with wine, despite the high sugar content.

            1. re: maria lorraine

              Thank you for the information. It was very helpful.

              Michele McNeal

          1. re: vinosnob

            Yup, I'm with Zin and vinosnob as well....does nothing for the wine

            1. Amedei chocolate from Italy (Toscano Red) with Portugal's Douro Valley Port Wine.

              1. Everyone's tastebuds are different - it's what makes the world go around. Me, I like wine with dark chocolate, especially Cabernet, Banyuls, or a nice ruby port. I've yet to try chocolate with PX sherry or black muscat, though I see them recommended occasionally.

                Try this web site for pairing info - Chocolate Pairing Chart at TheNibble.com:

                Last weekend, I had an Australian Port (Kaesler Touriga Nacional) with dark chocolate truffles - it was lovely! Though *NOT* with the mint-flavored truffles. We had much better luck with the Amaretto and Chambord (black raspberry) truffles.

                Someday, I would like to try the Innocent Bystander Pink Muscat - I have a bottle in my "cellar", and the "Good Wine under $20" blog recommends it with chocolate:


                P.S. Here's an article suggesting a pairing for chocolate easter bunnies:

                2 Replies
                1. re: AnneInMpls

                  Yes, dessert wines are much more forgiving, but as a self-proclaimed novice, I'm assuming the OP meant table wine.

                  1. re: AnneInMpls

                    Thanks Anne-
                    I have tried truffles (sp) with wine...they are not sweet, and compliment the wine. I will check out your suggestions.

                    Appreciate your comments Anne!


                  2. Some very fine milk chocolate and a nice ice wine make a very nice desert.


                    1. I'm with zin, Banyuls is the best pairing. However, you could also pair chocolate with Madeira , Oloroso Sherry , Port , or Recioto della Valpolicella

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: dinwiddie

                        I woudn't say no to a Sagrantino di Montefalco Passito either.

                        In fact, Duemilavini 2008 recommends the 2004 Perticaia Sagrantino Passito ( 4 stars / 5, 100% Sagrantino, 15% AbV, 28 Euro the 375 ml btl, 1500 btls produced ) with a "torta alla crema di cioccolato".

                        1. re: RicRios

                          I appreciate your suggestion.
                          Like I mentioned, i have tried truffles with wine before. they are actually slightly bitter, and enhance the tasting experience.


                        2. re: dinwiddie

                          Yup, a nice Syrah Port with a 72% is delicious.

                        3. Well, my first choice is coffee. Some like Banyuls or Maury with all kinds of chocolate. Some like muscat with milk chocolate. Some like Late Bottled Vintage Port with dark chocolate.

                          I still prefer coffee to all of them.

                          1. Chocolate and wine tends to be a shotgun marriage. Depending on the dish, Banyuls, Maury, LBV port and tawny port can work but they rarely achieve synergy. Late-harvest or fortified muscat wines make acceptable matches if the chocolate isn't too dark or intense and there are citrus flavours at play. Generally speaking, nothing, black coffee, water or spirits (e.g. rum, raspberry liqueur) is a better idea.

                            1. You can pair chocolate with red wine, it's just that some wines will not work. Wines designed to go with hearty foods can be a problem.

                              I actually made chocolates that were formulated to pair with wines. The chocolates were not overly sweet, as a lot are these days, specifically so it could pair well red wine. The best way to find out is to try with your chocolates of choice.

                              1. One of my old favorites was low end cabernets with Kit Kats. I'm better now though and really prefer almost anything other than wine with chocolate.

                                1. cava/champagne or port.

                                  1. Abbé Rous "Helyos" Banyuls.
                                    It doesn't get any better.

                                    1. Semi-sweet and demi-sec Champagne.


                                      1. Trentadue Chocolate Amore Port - 100% Merlot done in traditional port-style infused with real Belgian chocolate. Proof-positive that chocolate and wine can and do go together. Other than that, I find that red wines with generous oak treatment go better with chocolates than unoaked reds.

                                        1. I have successfully paired some Cali Cabs with chocolate. There are some Cali Cabs that have distinct chocolate notes in the front or mid palate and those have worked well. Two that come to mind now are Dominus and the Ramey Diamond Mountain. There are others. It is largely trial and error. Some work better with a chocolate that has a higher cacao content (62%+) others less. As a benchmark I use chocolates from Maison du Chocolat or when those are not available, I use Scharffenberger chocolates.

                                          30 Replies
                                          1. re: woojink

                                            Chocolate and red wine together are a passable pairing, at best. They never work really, really well together -- for that head to Madeira or Port or PX Sherry. If it even begins to work (notice complete, utter disclaimer) it's because the wine has developed dark fruit (intense blueberry, blackberry), resolved oak and a slight chocolate/cocoa flavor note as well. But the pairing never works WELL, never as well as other options.

                                            If you venture to even think about attempting this (enough qualifiers there??), the cacao content of the chocolate MUST BE 72% or higher. And this is plain chocolate, not chocolateS or bonbons or truffles or a dessert made with chocolate, all of which have pronounced sugar and are a disaster with red wine. I've experimented widely. A high-quality chocolate bar often appears on the table after dinner instead of dessert, and there is always red wine left over, giving me ample opportunity to try the pairing...again and again.

                                            1. re: maria lorraine

                                              Maria, while I understand your opinion the vociferousness of it seems to be a bit overdone.

                                              Certainly you must realize that we all have palates that are tuned differently. I can totally see how your palate may not work with this pairing, but you can't say that this is an empirical standard, as my palate does feel differently.

                                              I have done this pairing literally dozens and dozens of times across many bars of chocolate and cases of wine. For me it works. But only with wines that have, in my opinion, pronounced chocolate notes in the front and mid palate as previously stated.

                                              I would never say that someone should or should not taste something in a wine or a pairing, as their palate is their palate.

                                              Some wines work best with creamier lower cacao content chocolate. Some wines work better with the chemically tasting chocoloate of US mass producers like Hershey. That is what I have experienced. If you haven't, then I don't disagree that you can't taste it... I just know that I can. Palates are different. Such is life.

                                              I also do find that certain Ports do pair better with chocolates as well.

                                              I think it is a disservice to say that the pairing never works WELL as that is assuming entirely too much.

                                              1. re: woojink

                                                I have always believed that we taste differently. I am a huge advocate of individual mouth and oflactory chemistry, physiological differences in our taste relays to the brain, individual preferences, and that an individual's exposure to a variety of taste sensations forms a taste library.

                                                That being said, I believe you overstate my "voceriferousness" in light of the previous comments on this thread that don't recommend the pairing either. I'm not saying "Don't do it," I'm saying, "It's not the best: try something that works better." I'm simply disagreeing with you as to the lack of special-ness of the pairing. And I did so above in a jocular style.

                                                Of course, absolutely, you are, as are others, completely free to form your own opinion, and to enjoy the pairing as you see fit.

                                                The last factor I mention -- exposure to a variety of taste sensations -- is important in this case. Partly as a result of being assigned several projects on chocolate chemistry (!!), I've tried a multitude of pairings that have included many kinds of chocolate with a variety of wines and liqueurs -- Malmsey Madeira, many different kinds of Port, different bottles of PX Sherry, liqueurs and spirits up the yin yang, and many bottles of red wine.

                                                Those many pairings are what have informed my decision that red wine makes a barely passable pairing, but not a great one in light of other, better options. LIke you, I have arrived at my decision after having tasted a multitude of possibilities. I know your experience and taste chemistry/physiology informs your own opinion.

                                                My goal in pairings is to find something that sings, that magically melds, that even gives birth to a Holy Grail "third flavor" that didn't exist before the pairing happened. That happens with other the pairing suggestions I've cited, the Madeira and PX especially, but it doesn't happen, IMO, with red wine.

                                                This is the season for experimenting, to be sure! With the plethora of special wines, spirits, and liqueurs open for the season, and lots of special chocolate at the ready, I hope for both of us that our research will continue.


                                                1. re: maria lorraine

                                                  "But the pairing never works WELL, never as well as other options.

                                                  If you venture to even think about attempting this (enough qualifiers there??), the cacao content of the chocolate MUST BE 72% or higher."

                                                  I don't think your vociferousness is overstated when you consider the use of words like never or "must be", along with a couple of ALL CAPS presentations. If you are now saying otherwise, no worries. Such is life.

                                                  I'm glad I have your permission to form my own opinions of pairings and will continue to do so.

                                                  I understand your quest to find the Holy Grail "third flavor", but my approach to pairing wines has been always to find food and wine pairings that complement each other in a harmonious way. Occasionally independent nuances do come up, but when I think of classic pairings such as Sauternes with Foie Gras that work so seamlessly together I don't see a third component but rather a contrast of flavors that complement each other so well that it accentuates the individual tastes and creates a balance and contrast where the sum of the parts is greater than the whole.

                                                  Of course not every pairing is at that level. Would that it be so, our lives would be much happier!

                                                  Is there a topic outside of religion and politics that enflames passionate debate more than those of an epicurean nature? I think not.

                                                  1. re: woojink

                                                    Again, I was being jocular and expressive, not vociferous...I apologize if my ineptness at that led to your misunderstanding my tone or intent.

                                                    I look for complementarity the same as you in a pairing, even though that complementarity may come in the form of a contrast.

                                                    The "sum of the parts" is another -- good -- way to look at the concept that two things together form something new, or larger, or better, than before they were combined. The "new" aspect that is the result of combining is the Holy Grail "third flavor" thing.

                                                    As to your last question: Art. All genres.


                                                    1. re: maria lorraine

                                                      Cannot recall the author, to give attribution, or even who relayed it to me, but a useful axiom for this is [paraphrased, with the "misses" omitted]

                                                      1.) A wine that makes the food taste better
                                                      2.) A food that makes the wine taste better
                                                      3.) A magical blend that make both taste better, than they ever could alone

                                                      I *assume* that it is #3, that is that "Holy Grail." I know that it is for me.

                                                      Back to the specifics of the OP's post:

                                                      I am less a fan of chocolate than most, but my wife makes up for me. Still, I find myself with tid-bits from a broad spectrum of producers and of many different levels. Because I always have a glass of some wine handy, I taste these with whatever is handy. Some do not work, with what I have. Maybe they would fare as poorly with any wine. Some do seem to work, and a very few do "sing," at least to me.

                                                      Not from emperical tasting, heck I don't even have notes, but totally random episodes, these are some pairings, that I have liked:

                                                      1.) semi-sweet with Demi-Sec Champagne (it "sang!")
                                                      2.) many more heavily "milk" chocolate with younger Tawny Ports
                                                      3.) a fairly broad range of chocolates with bigger Zins
                                                      4.) above (to a lesser degree) with bigger US Pinot Noirs
                                                      5.) many various with several "levels" of Sherry up to PX
                                                      6.) almost all with Madeira (all classic grapes and most contemporary grapes)
                                                      7.) wife's flourless chocolate torte with Young's Double-Chocolate Ale (substitute a good Taddy Porter). Even my wino buddies have loved this pairing, though I do get the comment, "Hey Hunt, this wine's got a head on it!"

                                                      Some of the pairings seem to be a contrast in texture - more milk seems to cut higher tannins in younger reds. Some seem to be an affinity (or a contrast) in the taste precentors of sweet vs bitter (OK, not exact opposites, but different enough for my uninformed observation).

                                                      These have worked to some degree for me.

                                                      Interesting thread. Not totally unlike wines with cheeses.


                                                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                        Interesting points Bill. Well said. I agree on the milk/cream content observation. I have found similar notes also.

                                                    2. re: woojink

                                                      Get a grip . . .

                                                      Maria is much nicer than I. I think Chocolate and Cabernet together SUCK! I have never been able to put the two together in a way that I have enjoyed, despite the best efforts of many winemakers and chefs. It is never a combination I have enjoyed.

                                                      That said, YMMV.

                                                      And that is the point, isn't it? We all have our own opinions, we have have our own experiences, and most importantly, we all have our own palates. How is ML's comment, ""But the pairing never works WELL, never as well as other options" any different than Parker or the Speculator telling someone that Wine X is a "98"??? (I still haven't figured out what the heck that means, but that's another subject entirely!)

                                                      1. re: zin1953

                                                        You have made my exact point for me.

                                                        Everyone's palate is different... such is life, so it is impossible to say one thing is good or bad empirically from a pairing perspective. What sucks for you doesn't for others, right?

                                                        My experience has been that there are absolutely no absolutes when it comes to wine. Just look at all the hoo-hah on Ghost Horse!!!

                                                        Ratings are ratings... you have to consider the source. Clearly Laube and Parker have different palates, certainly they probably have different agendas. Look at the Montelena controversy. There is also much to be said about the Parkerization of wines... not something I consider a good thing, but it's happening. If one's palate is not aligned with RP or JL, then those scores can be meaningless... more than they already are.

                                                        1. re: woojink

                                                          >>> You have made my exact point for me. <<<

                                                          Yes, and I didn't say anything different than ML . . .

                                                          1. re: zin1953

                                                            I disagree.

                                                            Read my entire post. Not everyone agrees with you. Nor do they with me. Such is life.

                                                            The only thing you said that was in the same vein as ML is that you both feel that chocolate does not pair well with red wine. I disagree with that and you seem to have issue with my disagreement.

                                                            Funny thing is that you even say YMMV... guess what? That is my point. If My Mileage Might Vary, why would you imply that I am "wrong" when it comes to this pairing?

                                                            Again, what is right for you may be wrong for me, and what is right for me may be wrong for you.

                                                          2. re: woojink

                                                            <<Everyone's palate is different... such is life, so it is impossible to say one thing is good or bad empirically from a pairing perspective. >>

                                                            Well, no.

                                                            There are standardized pairing guidelines, rules for success, that have come about because a large number of people experienced similar results when trying certain pairing strategies.

                                                            Just like the guidelines for anything, a consensus of experience helped establish them. Sure, we each experience flavor differently and have our own individual mouth chemistry, but that doesn't mean there isn't a huge commonality in the way we perceive flavors.

                                                            Just as an example, there's this one wine-pairing rule that emerged out of a number of people having a negative experience. A very sweet dessert was served with a beautiful dessert wine and a lot of people said "Yuck -- the wine tastes sour." The wine didn't taste sour alone, but with the dessert it did. That led to the pairing guideline: Make sure the dessert is less sweet than the dessert wine.

                                                            Do you have to follow the rule? No. Does the rule generally help most people to create a more flavorful experience if you're serving dessert with dessert wine? Yes.

                                                            Here's another food and wine pairing affinity: salt with sweet. The contrast of a salty blue cheese with a sweet Sauternes wine seems counter-intuitive until you try the two together and realize it's damn incredible. Then you may remember that a touch of salt with other sweet things works too -- the salty peanuts in a Snickers bar and salt on watermelon. Through enough food experiences with this salt-sweet combo, and a number of other people saying they like the combo too, you realize there's a consensus on this salt-sweet affinity. Does everybody enjoy that flavor combo? No.

                                                            There's no rule in food and wine pairing that says, with X you must drink Y. But it is known that Champagne goes wonderfully with foods that have fat and salt, and that an off-dry Riesling goes well with spicy food, and that Barbera goes well with cooked tomato sauce. There's a good deal of agreement on these pairings. Not everyone agrees, but a lot of people agree.

                                                            So yes, it is quite possible to say that one thing is "good or bad" from a pairing perspective. Though I wouldn't use those words. I'd probably say that one pairing works better than another, or is a more successful pairing than another choice.

                                                            The rules help create wonderful flavor experiences. Are they absolute? No. Can you do something else? Yes.

                                                            1. re: maria lorraine

                                                              I accept and agree that there are tried and true guidelines out there that a fairly consistent across a broad range of palates. However, some things taste differently to some people. It just happens. Yes, some of your examples are widely known and well regarded. I agree with them too, but if they don't work for someone's particular palate, I will not say that their palate is "wrong"... they taste what they taste. Who am I to tell them they are right or wrong?

                                                              One example of this is that the cultural differences and varieties tend to have strong influences on how palates develop. For example, many of my caucasian friends (I am Asian), but definitely by no means all, seem to be far more sensitive to spicy foods than many of my Asian friends and family. This does not mean one thing is spicy or not. It is highly relative. In terms of wine, I spend a good amount of time in China each year... this year I did 15 weeks there. Generally speaking most mainland Chinese people have an affinity to a sweeter flavor profile. I'm sure you have heard stories of people in China spiking their wines, sometimes VERY GOOD wines (First Growth Bordeaux, Grand Cru Burgundy) with Sprite or Seven Up! Let me tell you, I have seen this with my own eyes on multiple occasions. The inner wine drinker in me was horrified and clearly this is probably not what the winemakers intended, but to the people drinking the wine... this is what tasted good to them. Could we argue that this was a "waste" of such fine wines? Of course we could, but who are we to judge? I'm sure we in America do things to their classic cuisines or drink that they consider sacrilegious. Such is life.

                                                              Pairing guidelines are just that guidelines, not rules that must be followed. To try and impose mine or yours or someone else's thoughts on the palates of other individuals who feel differently is not a good idea. Who are we to say what tastes good to them?

                                                              1. re: woojink

                                                                My guess is that there are semantic/language issues here that are getting in the way of understanding...

                                                                <<Yes, some of your examples are widely known and well regarded. I agree with them too, but if they don't work for someone's particular palate, I will not say that their palate is "wrong"... they taste what they taste. Who am I to tell them they are right or wrong?>>

                                                                No one has said that a pairing is wrong, only that it isn't the best either 1) for them, or
                                                                2) as a matter of consensus. Your posts have used the words "good, bad, right, wrong" and those words insert a pejorative tone into the discussion.

                                                                <<However, some things taste differently to some people. It just happens.>>

                                                                No one has ever disagreed with you about this -- in fact this has been re-affirmed again and again by others, yet you keep repeating it as though we are disagreeing.

                                                                Pairing guidelines, rules, tips, suggestions, whatever you want to call them...same thing. You're getting hung up on the word "rules" as though a rule means an absolute, another word you have used. Once again, ample accommodation is given those whose taste preferences don't dovetail with the guidelines. So no argument there.

                                                                <<One example of this is that the cultural differences and varieties tend to have strong influences on how palates develop.>>

                                                                Yes, I have already acknowledged this in the statement I made about taste preferences
                                                                and one's individual "taste library." Our taste library is an accumulation of experience, perception, calibrations (for bitterness, sweetness, fat, intensity), physiology, and memory.

                                                                <I'm sure you have heard stories of people in China spiking their wines, sometimes VERY GOOD wines (First Growth Bordeaux, Grand Cru Burgundy) with Sprite or Seven Up!>

                                                                I like the example of Cab and 7Up so much that I wrote about it myself in June of this year, so I am readily aware of cultural taste calibrations and customs:

                                                                <Could we argue that this was a "waste" of such fine wines? Of course we could, but who are we to judge?>

                                                                The argument could *easily* be made that spiking First Growth Bordeaux or Grand Cru Burgundy with 7Up would be a waste of that wine. A consensus of wine drinkers including you would say so. The drinker of the Bordeaux/7Up combo would disagree.

                                                                This is another example of individual preference being an exception to an established consensus or variation from a pattern (as in the adage "the exception proves the rule," which is yet another usage of the word "rule").

                                                                No one is saying the Bordeaux/7Up drinker is "wrong" to have the preference, especially since it seems to be culturallly derived, only that it isn't what most people would enjoy, or what most people would agree is the preferable way to consume that wine.

                                                                But once again, with regards to a pattern of enjoyment, a consensus is reached, and individual variation from that consensus is accommodated, just not agreed with.

                                                                In the same manner, your enjoyment of red wine with chocolate is a variation from the consensus of this thread. No one is saying that you are wrong, only that the pairing doesn't work for them or in general.

                                                                <<To try and impose mine or yours or someone else's thoughts on the palates of other individuals who feel differently is not a good idea.>>

                                                                No one is doing this. Pairing guidelines help most people achieve a better synergy of food and wine. There will always be individual variation. No one is "imposing" anything.

                                                                I still hope that you have a lovely holiday...

                                                                1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                  "My guess is that there are semantic/language issues here that are getting in the way of understanding..."

                                                                  Actually, my English is quite good, despite the fact it is my third language. Many consider that I speak it as well as a native English speaker. Are you saying that I may not understand the language well enough for this conversation? Funny how that came up right after I mention that I'm Asian.

                                                                  I get the fact that you are now saying that it's OK to have differing ideas on flavors and pairings, but you (and zin...) flat out said in your original post the following:

                                                                  "But the pairing never works WELL, never as well as other options. "

                                                                  Never is pretty absolute don't you think? Never means never. How is it inaccurate to assume that what you are trying to say there is that this is a pairing that never works well? That is what you said and that is what I disagreed with.

                                                                  I understand and have no issue with the fact that this pairing does not work for your palate, but again to state that it never does is pretty absolute. Must be my incomplete grasp of the English language that makes me have such a strict adherence to the definitions of the words like 'never".

                                                                  Also, at the risk of being overly pedantic, there is a big difference between the words "rule" and "guideline". You call them pairing rules and I call them guidelines. Calling something a rule implies that if you don't follow the rule, you are "breaking a rule" which also implies the rule is "right" and the rule breaker is "wrong". Guidelines a different thing altogether.

                                                                  By the way, I don't know why you would "still" wish me a lovely holiday... my wishes for your holiday have not changed due to any discussion, and I guess I assumed the same.

                                                                  1. re: woojink

                                                                    <<Calling something a rule implies that if you don't follow the rule, you are "breaking a rule" which also implies the rule is "right" and the rule breaker is "wrong".>>

                                                                    Ah, but that definition of rule is "an authoritative, prescribed direction for conduct" rather than my meaning, which is "a generalized statement that describes what is true in most or all cases."*

                                                                    "But the pairing never works WELL, never as well as other options."

                                                                    Yes, IMO.

                                                                    <<Funny how that came up right after I mention that I'm Asian.>>

                                                                    That never crossed my mind...

                                                                    *Info Source:

                                                                    1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                      I guess my mistake was assuming that you were intending to use the primary definition of a word rather than a ligher, alternate one.

                                                                      Webster's primary (1) definition of Rule: a prescribed guide for conduct or action

                                                                      I'm glad you clarified (again) by qualifying your initial statement by saying IMO. Without that, you can see how it can be viewed differently.

                                                                      I cannot comment on what did or did not cross your mind, just the timing and external view of the comment made. I guess I have to take you at your word.

                                                                  2. re: maria lorraine

                                                                    Wow, I started to mention Aunt Marge and the '77 Latour blended with Mountain Dew... glad that I did not, as others have already hit on this.


                                                                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                      Never the '77 Latour... but under the right conditions Dr. Pepper and the '78 Margaux might work... ;)....

                                                                      1. re: woojink

                                                                        Uh! Makes me shudder, but as you said, who is say that the consumer of the wine is wrong? Still, it hurts me somehow - right/wrong - enjoyable/horrifying.

                                                                        Tomorrow night, we're attending a Hanukkah-Mas celebration, where we'll be tasting a vertical of J. Phelps' Insignia, but BEFORE most of the guests arrive. Is this fair? Maybe not, but the host would have to hide the 7-Up...


                                                                        1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                          Sounds like a fun "Christmakuh" evening.

                                                                          What years will the vertical be? I have about a 15 year vertical myself. Although the QPR on Insignia is definitely headed the wrong way in my book. I remember buying the '94 (WS WOTY) for less than $40 per bottle!

                                                                          Just opened a '95 Insignia about a week ago. It drank beautifully. Did not decant - did not need it. Used the SOM/Andouze method. Although I don't think the '95 has a lot of years left... I think it is at it's peak now and should be drunk up within the next 3-5 years. It really sang. Amazing balance and well resolved tannins. Silky and bright fruit with a solid finish.

                                                                          1. re: woojink

                                                                            I "tend" to agree about the QPR, but do love this wine and am a member of the J. Phelps' club. In this case, it will be a minor vertical, '99 through '04. Going back almost a decades, we did a 20 year vertical (though some were Eisle and some were Backus, where there was no Insignia), that was wonderful. As I had missed similar at a favorite restaurant earlier, I was so very, very happy to do this one. My collection goes back to about '88 (with breaks on both my and J. Phelps' end), and I'd love to "fill the gaps," and then share these with a great crowd. I keep trying to do something like this for my wine club, but most just do not seem as interested in exploring verticals (or horizontals) as I am.

                                                                            As I have not had the time to do my normal trade (and otherwise) tastings, I feel I'm in a bit of a drought. Maybe I can recitfy that soon.


                                                                            1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                              I'm a HUGE fan of the wines from the Eisele fruit. I have quite a bit of the Araujo and some earlier Phelps. I think the fruit from Eisele is just fantastic. Prices just nutso.

                                                                              An Eisele vertical would be a really great one to do. Maybe double blind with Phelps wines for the more recent years? If you set up a good offline, I'll bring some stuff... I guess I'm assuming you're in SoCal...

                                                                              1. re: woojink

                                                                                Since Phelps lost out on Eisele, I have not tasted the Araujo offerings. I do agree about it being a wonderful vineyard and have no reason to doubt the quality of the Araujo wines. They just fall outside of my normal price point. Maybe the next time that a host hands me a wine list and says "have at it," I'll go down that road, but only if I think that he/she can afford it."


                                                                                1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                  Trust me, you will enjoy the journey. The Araujo's have done a marvelous job. I think theirs is one of the very best cabs from Napa. Absolutely in the league of Harlan, Screagle and the like. I opened (way too early) the '03 about a month ago, and it was fantastic - after about an 8 hour decant. This wine easily has 20-25 years left on it, and probably 10 before it hits its sride.

                                                                                    1. re: zin1953

                                                                                      It's definitely not cheap. But a lot better than Harlan, Screagle, Levy & McClellan, Ghost Horse, etc...

                                                                                      Definitely not an inexpensive wine, but it is still one that I take my full allocation each year of. I passed on Harlan last year at $450. Araujo was about half that. Aftermarket is much higher.

                                                        2. re: maria lorraine

                                                          wow, what an interesting and energetic post. my experience and MY palate tells all the pleasure points in my brain that the right wine (usually a california thermonuclear fruit bomb) pairs quite well with a wide range of darker chocolates (needs to be bitter and acidic enough), yes, on the low end of the dairy content scale. if the raspberry and dark chocolate combo doesn't do it for you, neither will the red wine and chocolate pairing. i've worked off a few big boys (harlan, screaming eagle, colgin) with chocolate to much delight. i think woojink is right on here. i've also worked off a nice le pin with a chocolate dessert...horror show.

                                                          also, food-styled and european-styled wines don't seem to work universally well with chocolate, except for the Chapoutier/Valhrona pairing i attended a decade ago in tain l'hermitage. it was a fantastic and well executed tasting and pairing. i'll try to dig out my notes on the pairings, rhones, and chocolates.

                                                          red wine and chocolate should not be so shocking to anyone. and if it doesn't work for you, then that's the palate God gave you. so be it. what was shocking last night was a lemon tagliarini with citrus cream and mint topped with an excellent aged parmigiano-reggiano paired with an '87 DRC Richebourg. mind blowing. i'm still trying to figure it out.

                                                          what will happen to our palates when we close our minds?

                                                          1. re: revets2

                                                            <<usually a california thermonuclear fruit bomb pairs quite well with a wide range of darker chocolates (needs to be bitter and acidic enough), yes, on the low end of the dairy content scale>>

                                                            like that thermonuclear line...

                                                            when a choc/red wine pairing works as best it can, it is has been exactly this combo...but still the combo is not as good as the same choc with Malmsey Madeira, 20 to 40 year tawny, LBV, etc., as mentioned.

                                                            The pasta sounds fantastic...glad you like flavors revets2...

                                                            1. re: maria lorraine

                                                              "but still the combo is not as good as the same choc with Malmsey Madeira, 20 to 40 year tawny, LBV, etc., as mentioned."

                                                              That would be for YOUR palate, right?

                                                              For others (myself included) the results can be (often are) markedly different.

                                                  2. I prefer cognac with chocolate but if you must have wine I think a tawny port works well.

                                                    1. I often enjoy the slightly sweet & sparkling italian red brachetto with chocolate desserts.