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Feb 5, 2011 03:18 PM

Chocolate & Wine Tasting

O.K. hounds, I need some educated advice. I want advice from experience not guesses. I'm putting on a chocolate & wine tasting. Serving 70% Dark, 55% Dark, 30% Milk & White Chocolate. Should I serve dark to white or white to dark? I'll just be sampling medallions of each.

As far as wine goes. I'm looking at Cab & Shiraz w/70%, Nero D'Avola & Monastrell/Syrah w/55%, Moscato w/White, but what to do with milk? I'm debating between tawny port & sparkling Aussie shiraz (a sweet one). Any favorite combos "speaking from experience"?

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  1. Chocolate and red table wine tastes terrible to me. I vastly prefer it with fortified, bourbon, coffee, etc. Really, anything other than red table wine. The two bring out the worst in each other.

    5 Replies
    1. re: invinotheresverde


      Most chocolate isn't dark enough to work with red wine pairing. The problem is sugar -- so much sugar is added to chocolate less than 70% cacao that it makes red wine taste sour. Sorry.

      What will work is to pair the chocolate with a wine sweeter than the chocolate. My favorite is Malmsey Madeira (Malmsey is an indication of sweetness; see the Madeira thread listed below -- my favorite brand is Henriques & Henriques). The flavors are stunning; the texture is voluptuous.

      Or, try a 100% Pedro Ximenez dessert sherry -- my favorite is a knockout, Venerable by Domecq --

      Those two recs are the very best I've ever had with chocolate, or artisan chocolates, and I admit to much time doing field research.

      20-year-old tawny (or older) is also a good option. Or vintage or LBV port.

      This subject has come up many times before on this board. Here are some previous threads:

      Wine & chocolate pairing(s)?????
      Madeira under a $100

      And check out the many port recommendations by searching this board (all years), especially the posts by Bill Hunt and zin1953.

      1. re: maria lorraine

        I agree with you that most chocolate isn't dark enough to work with (most) red wines, but there are very dark chocolates (usually 80% and above) that work for me with fruit-forward zins. Also, late-harvest zins are sweet enough to work really well with a lot of chocolate (which also agrees with what you said).

        1. re: Malcolm Ruthven

          Yep. The pairing works adequately with 80+% cacao choc and fruit-forward, complex reds (usually $$). Late-harvest zins are like port in character so they work with bittersweet choc. But Iowaboy3's sweeter chocolates need something other than red wine.

          Along the lines of what Tripeler said, I did have a great pairing of a Butterfinger bar and Guinness stout once!

          1. re: Malcolm Ruthven

            I find some joy with the higher concentration chocolates and a nice Merlot, especially if raspberries are any where near.

            Banyuls can also work nicely, and I have enjoyed some with milk chocolates. Obviously, we are now in the realm of dessert wines, but there should not be anything wrong with that.

            Enjoy, and do take a look at ML's links, as there has been some really good discussions on this (or very similar) subject.


        2. re: invinotheresverde

          Agreed . . . it's probably my *least* favorite match . . . .

        3. Iowaboy3: I occasionally enjoy chocolate with unfortified wines. Unfortunately, choosing your chocolate by cacao content is a little like choosing your wine solely by ABV.

          I encourage you to visit before the naysayers talk you out of your tasting. I have had only their Medium-Dark (60%) Ghanaian (which strangely seems not to be offered for sale on their website), which they recommend be paired with Zin, Syrah, Rhone, Merlot and Shiraz. It is excellent chocolate in its own right.

          You should also check out

          1 Reply
          1. re: kaleokahu

            You make a great point. Doing much of anything "by the numbers" will end up being less satisfying. If it was only about numbers, then every wine would be the same, and score 100 on every vintage. It would also be made by computer.

            I would also NOT give up on the tasting. Even if everyone does not think that every pairing is perfect, it should give them an opportunity to taste and determine for themselves.

            We do a lot of chef's tastings w/ sommelier's pairings. We try to hold onto most wines, and sample them with the other dishes - obviously, this often negates going backward to food dishes, with later wines, but still, we experiment. Some surprising pairings can be found. We try to make note of these. This activity is NOT to try and outguess the sommelier, but to give us many wines to taste with many dishes. Over the holidays, we had 14 glasses each at Restaurant Daniel. The staff was very glad that they had seated us at a very large 4-top!

            We often do tastings for say Port, and then work to come up with food pairings that will work with Rubies to older VP's. Even with extensive tastings beforehand, some folk just do not see the pairing, but have learned in the process.

            Hey, give me an evening of good wine, good food, some good conversation and learning, and life does not get much better.



          2. I think chocolate works a WHOLE lot better with dark beers having minimal bitterness.

            2 Replies
              1. re: Tripeler

                Now, you will get little argument from me.

                My wife does a fabulous flourless chocolate torte, and I often pair it with Samuel Smith's or Young's chocolate ales. Some of my wino guests are surprised, "Hey Hunt, this wine has a head on it." Usually, however, they beg for my wife's recipe, and the name of that particular ale, Porter or stout.


              2. I've done a number of tastings--but all with dark choc. The winning wine with most darks has been late harvest zins

                1. One of the classic pairings is chocolate with Banyuls, preferably Dr Parce Domaine du Mas blanc. With a dark beer, sounds way better as a Dogfish raison d'extra or raison d'etre.