The Chocolate Life

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What are your favorite adult beverages to pair with chocolates?

In my book I devote a whole chapter to pairing wines and chocolates. Over the past few years I've tasted dozens of wines (some fabulous, some less so), and I will be sharing some of them here. I have also learned to appreciate chocolate paired with beers.

I encourage members share some of their favorites.

Tags: pairing, wine

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Emily:

If you've read my book you'll know that I don't like making blanket recommendations for pairings. There are just too many flavors in "Argentine Malbec" and too many flavors in "dark chocolate" to make a statement that in effect says, "All Argentine Malbecs go with all dark chocolates."

That is not the case.

So, while I am sure there are combinations that do work, I don't have any specific recommendations I can make on this type of pairing.

:: Clay
I've been pairing Lemoncello liquer with Waialua Estate 70% . I make a liquer cup out of the chocolate pour in the liquer...drink the liquer and eat the cup. A little more sophisticated "shooter"!
I've consumed thousands of different wines and hundreds of dark bars. Periodically combining the two has not yet provided me with a worthwhile experience. Subjectively, I've found that the wine does little to improve the solo chocolate experience and chocolate can sometimes completely diminish the perception of the wine's most desirable characterisitcs. I guess the same potential for dissonance exists with any wine/food pairing. I'll keep trying and may yet discover a good match. In the mean time, I have found 70% + chocolate and Cognac to be complementary. I attribute the perceived harmony to the warmth, softness and vanilla notes in the Cognac combining with the richness and mouth feel of the melting chocolate. Without the clutter of excess sweetness, acid or tannins, the taster can experience the various stages and long, ever changing finish one gets by tasting a fine dark bar - only more sensual.
Chocovore,
I'm with you on this one. I have tried relentlessly to pair chocolate with wine. I make a fair bit of money on our chocolate courses and also on wine and cheese courses. It would be to my advantage to make this work. One of my best friends is a master sommelier and we have spent hundreds of hours pairing these two terrior driven (at least somewhat) things together with little to no success.

We found uniformly that the tannic structure in many red and white wines boost the flavinols in the chocolate, ruining any subtleties the wine or the chocolate had to offer. Even when the wines are lacking in grape or wood tannins they tend to do very little for the chocolate, especially at cellar temperature, which cools the mouth and disrupts the texture of the chocolate on the palate.

Some useful rules of thumb we came up with are:
1. With dark chocolate, the wine should be sweeter than the chocolate.
2. With dark chocolate, avoid dry and astringent libations as their moisture sapping effects seem to be increased exponentially.
3. With milk or white chocolate more acidity and tannins can be in the wine as the chocolate has a richer mouth feel and more fat to be cut through.

It boggles my mind that people are pairing dark chocolate and cabernet. The combined effect of the tannins and the flavinol create a chemical reaction on the palate that to my chocolate circle and wine circle is like giving yourself a shot of novicaine in the tounge. Instant palate shock. I think it is hilarious when people convince themselves that this deadening sensation is actually tertiary flavors. I literally fell out of my chair laughing at a wine tasting seminar at Merryvale in Napa when they paired a $160 bottle of Cabernet with Dove chocolate.

Anyway, just my opinion, but backed up by dozens of others with better taste buds than me.
Short answer: bourbon and single malt scotch, in that order
- Kentucky bourbon chocolates (great base for a winter hot milk/chocolate beverage), from Louisville, KY
- Devil in an Apron's Chocolate pecan pie with bourbon, from CA
- BonBonBar's single malt scotch candy bar is not bad either, from Los Angeles, CA

I can't eat wheat/gluten/malt - so beer and ale & chocolate is out, except for the rare gluten-free versions of beer I can find. However, I am planning to make some wheat-free brownies with gluten-free beer this weekend (in a solar cooker no less). We'll see how they turn out.

Cheers,
Corinne
Hello pairing with beverages friends,

Next week we will (the beerclub) pair some special beers and chocolate, If someone should be interested I share with pleasure the results...)
Geert Vercruysse
We make an Oatmeal Stout Truffle with 72% dark chocolate and a locally brewed Oatmeal Stout Beer. We top it with crushed rolled oats. It has been extremely popular! We started making another beer truffle due to the popularity of the Oatmeal Stout Truffle. The same brewhouse makes a Belgian White Beer... it is a lighter wheat beer with citrus notes. We make the truffle with Belgian white chocolate and add the beer and our spices... coriander and anise, even some cracked grains of paradise to spice it up a bit. Then dip it into 55% dark chocolate and top it with more freshly ground coriander and a sliver of candied orange peel. It is a little more complicated to make, but WONDERFUL! They are flying out the door! We may end up pairing a truffle with other beers the brewhouse makes. They serve them in a box of two as a dessert on their menu. It has been a great thing!
Hey Wendy, this sound heavenly!
If I find some time left ( I have to do some training for a special bikerace in Switserland ), I try do make some beer-chocolate pralines...
Its a good idea to sell them at the brewhouse.
Greetings
Geert
I like to enjoy my 70% or 75% Guatemalan bars with Zacapa Centenario 23-y/o rum. It has been selected as the world's best rum more times than I can remember.
I've done many pairing to date and I have a few favorites...Gnosis Superchoc or Simplicity
with 2008 Weingut Michlits Pinot Noir Rosé Frizzant from Austria and Madecasse 75% Intense dark with a
White Port

Both compliment and balance out the the richness of the chocolate and cuts the sweetness of the wines.
Definate fave of mine is a nicely aged muscat with a dark chocolate - the two together or with a Malbec is brilliant!
I am not a fan of chocolate and red wine. It only reminds me of the bad red wine truffles I've sadly eaten. Not that I'm against the notion, I just have yet to come across anything that makes me think "yes, this is truly heavenly." Same goes for more dessert-type wines. Oloroso sherry, barely maybe. Mostly, I find they mute each other. I consider the two like two buxom, beautiful, flamboyant divas on one stage for one song. Sometimes it's just too much.

Fine distilled liquor and beers I've had better results, but mostly in cooking pairings. For instance, I've made several versions of a sout/Guinness and chocolate cake using different grand cru and single origin couvertures and all are heavenly. The malted, tongue smothering notes of the dark beer play up the chocolate, no matter its flavor profile, well.

Likewise, I agree with other posters on bourbon and cognac. It's my tipple of choice when putting together a good drinking chocolate. Bulleit has always been reliable and somewhat accessible. Whenever I open a new package of Domori, I get various reminders of highland scotches and fine distilled spirits. When I made a Mont Blanc, I diluted the chestnut cream (extreme sweetness cut the dark chocolate) with lots of cognac. It added another dimension of flavor, but it also amplified the chocolate itself.

I'll have to explore more with straight pairings.

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