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My limited research on pairing chocolate and wine has led me to the conclusion that there are no wrong answers. This can only be partially true...

I am thinking of hosting a wine and chocolate event and am interested in hearing of anyone's experiences with the 'right answers'. I mean some things are just perfect together..have you got any for me?

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I have never been a fan of pairing wine and chocolate personally, but I made a discovery last night of a rather nice combination.

Over the weekend Sam made a micro-batch (1 kilogram) of 70% dark chocolate. I was nibbling on a few squares last night and decided to pour myself a glass of liqueur muscat from a bottle that we had recently opened. This particular muscat is an '84 vintage and comes from a certified organic vineyard called Thistle Hill, close to Mudgee in NSW (Australia) near where we live. This is a desert wine that is quite sweet with a rich fruity taste (and about 21% alcohol). You only need to drink very small glasses of it.

I found that the strong chocolate notes of the bar worked really well with the rich fruitiness of the liqueur. Sam pointed out that the sweetness of the two matched each other quite well.

All in all, I would consider it a good pairing.

I have been involved in wine and chocolate sensory studies and there is only really anecdotal evidence on the subject we were endeavoring to get some stats behind it we are number crunching at the moment. Anyway during the inital bench testing we found champagne or sparkling reds were ok (milk choc better), white wine was really bad (with everything), Aussie shiraz and other big fruity reds were a surprisingly good mix (with dark chocolates) but the big winners as Langdon has said were the botrytis wines, muscats and ports (with most chocolates).

The problem with cold drinks ie white wine and champagne is they cool your mouth down so it is more difficult to appreciate the chocolate so steer clear of cold drinks.

I would reccomend trying the full bodied red wine with a dark chocolate it is surprisingly good. Other than that go the higher sugar beverages. There are also exceptions to these rules so have fun experimenting. Pairing is different for everyone, the best rule for pairing is that if it brings a smile to your face it is a good one.
Well thanks for that!
I am not super crazy about the idea of chocolate and wine pairing myself but we must...give the people what they want. I for one like to match my alcohol with dancing, or cheese and save the chocolate for the next day.

It would seem there are a number of alcohols that have escaped me that have been suggested in pairing with chocolate. The Banyuls, Hungarian Tokaji, Sauternes and the list goes on. Not only have I not tried them with or without chocolate, I shamefacedly admit Ive not even heard of them. (until yesterday)

Good point with the cold drinks, Riesling was suggested with white chocolate but I think I'll take your advice and start with the darks.

Thanks again!
A personal perspective on the subject of pairing wine with chocolate. Not a point of view supported by research or established thinking on wine pairing …just from my own bench-top research and experimenting during the past few months.

In the winter of 2007-8 I enrolled in a winemaking course through VESTA , an on-line college level program which was taught by a winemaker who was employed in quality control at a major Napa wine company. We students and instructor met Tuesday evenings on-line and I would recommend this course for anyone wanting to learn more about the basics of wine. The students each made a batch of wine from kit and mailed a bottle of finished beverage to the instructor for evaluation. I say all this because it was a good use of free time in the winter months as our commercial wine grape vines are dormant then; not much work going on in our vineyards.

This winter my project is home roasting cocoa beans and processing the nibs through to finished chocolate using the Chocolate Alchemy system and appliances recommended. Then pairing the finished chocolate with adult beverages such as wine, sherry, brandy or brandied fruit puree or liquor infused ganache ---actually inside the molded chocolates.

I know this is not the “wine pairing with chocolate” asked about in this thread but there are some interesting discoveries coming forth from this effort. Bearing in mind that the object of the experiments is to carry through the confections the truest flavors of the wines/liquors inside. And with the understanding that the “target customer” is not the general public; from my perspective my customer would be the wine maker or distiller whose beverage is featured in the chocolates. And these are chocolates made from beans of a single country of origin so their flavors are not a blend of high and low notes but quite strong flavor profiles in one direction or another.

Having said all this, here’s what I’ve found thus far. I don’t get a clash of chocolate against wine in any combinations. Unless the chocolate is held to a minimum by making the shell especially thin, strong chocolate flavors will overpower the wines inside except for very strong fruit wines (blackberry or cherry) and with one grape wine exception so far; a Frontenac barrel aged red which is one of the grapes we grow here in southern Missouri. ie, the wine is generally not strong enough to stand up to the chocolate coating especially if it is a dark chocolate (by this I mean 66 % cocoa..any more than that and the filling wouldn’t have a chance of being identified as a particular varietal wine.) Remember this is a strong single origin shell against a wine jelly or puree of brandied fruit or chocolate crème bourbon ganache.

For this reason I’m now testing dark milk chocolate as the “container” shell. Again, one origin chocolate but in a 40-50 % cocoa level with only about 4 oz of dry goat’s milk per 5 pounds of chocolate. The hope is to allow more distinctive wine flavors to come through and I’m really not getting conflict between the chocolate and dark red wine. Maybe this isn’t conventional “milk chocolate” hence no milk/wine clash.

I know this is not really the subject of this thread but just thought I throw out some experimental results thus far. It seems if you paired a semi-sweet fruit wine or a sweet ice wine then you may get some really nice combinations for friends to sample. I have done a blackberry wine jelly from blackberries we grow which pairs well inside dark chocolate.

We also have a home made “sherry” from home grown Chardonnel grape wine which was deliberately oxidized, sweetened, fortified and oak aged which I’ll soon try as a sherry jelly in a Panama dark molded chocolate. The richness of the Panama may work well with the sherry flavors but the key is to tone down the chocolate by keeping the shell thin and let the filling flavor notes come through. Will report back on this if anyone is interested.

All the Best Tasting,
Frank Schmidt
The effect of single origin was something we looked at in our wine pairing study, I made two chocolates (70% dark) - in every way the same except for the type of bean and the roast I subjected it to. I chose Madagascar and Dominican Republic to make sure the difference was huge, we also tested against a dark, dark milk and milk chocolate from local manufacturer Haighs. I can't wait to see if there were any statistically relevant preferences relating to origin of the bean.


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