Port and Chocolate Tasting
I posted this originally on the General Topics site and it was suggested that I ask here!
I am researching putting together a Port and Chocolate Tasting for an event and am wondering if anyone has done one of these and can give me some pointers. How many Ports? How many types of Chocolate? How much on the pour etc.etc.
You may find that many of the "regulars" in this forum aren't big fans of pairing any type of wine, including Port, with chocolate. The one exception being either Banyuls or Maury, but those are not Port wines.
So what you can do for your event is to have at least one ruby, one tawny, one late bottle vintage, and one regular vintgae version of Port wines. I'm assuming you mean Port from Portugal (and Jason is going to call it Porto), and not Port-styled wines from California or Australia. Then you can also have different chocolates with varying degress of cocoa content, milk to dark. You could even have a white chocolate I suppose. Then turn your folks loose and ask them which chocolate(s) they like with which wine(s).
As far as pour portions, a little Port goes a long way -- especially since Port has higher alcohol by volume than table wine. Generally one ounce pours will work. There are 25 ounces (approx) in a 750 ml bottle of wine.
Have a dump/spit bucket available. Have pitchers of water available.
re: Brad Ballinger
Port and chocolate can be rather lovely...especially if nuts are involved. I'd also include cocoa-dusted almonds. For this tasting, I'd stick with developed Ports with some depth. As far as a tawny, it takes 20 years for it to develop its distinctive dried fruit (apricot, fig, peach) and toasted nut flavors. So search for a 20-year there. Tawny is a lovely combination with milk chocolate, and chocolate(s) with a caramel or molasses flavor note or component. Some toasted walnut halves would also be a fine addition. But make them savory. They're traditionally served with Stilton and port, but I toast mine with a light dusting of garam masala (a curry blend) and salt. And yes, the spicing contributes even when combined with chocolate. I stole the idea from several famous chocolate makers, who use spice blends in minute quantities in their chocolates.
I've done several, though the prime concentration has been Port, and the chocolates have come later in the event.
What is the theme of your event? Is it Port AND chocolates, chocolates where Port is also served, or Port with accompaninemnts leading up to chocolate. This can be very, very important.
Depending on the number of each, that you choose, I'd keep the Ports to a light pour in a copita, per each. The chocolates should be small enough, that no attendee has too much of each.
For Ports, I'd run the gamut from a good Ruby, through LBV's (there are different sytles, per House, so choose to include each style), a couple of Tawnies, plus a newer and an older Vintage. You could pick one house, like Taylor-Fladgate and follow through, with the inclusion of an older more "traditional" style LBV, and then maybe the '85 and an '00 for the VP's. Or, you could do "point-counter point" with say a Taylor 20 year Tawny and a Porto Barros 20 year. Check the bottling dates of these, and try to get similar. The properties are close, but not contiguous, to each other, and the House-style is different, though both are 20 year Tawnies. So very many options here.
Going back some years, we did a Port event with attendees of totally different backgrounds. Started with a White Port, moved to two Rubies/Branded, then to several Tawnies (the point-counter point thing), did two different LBV's, then did a '63, '70, '77 and '85 (most recent major vintage at the time) Taylor for the finale. In the mix, I added a domestic port-styled wine from Beringer - their Cab port, IIRC. Pours were 1 - 1.5 oz, per each. For 22 people, we used one bottle of each. There was still a bit of each VP for a second tasting. Decanted each VP. No Colheitias in this tasting.
Now, since I do enjoy chocolate, but do not know it, like Port, I will defer to those with greater knowledge.