Wine and Chocolate Pairing Gathering

Thanks in no small part to Bob Cochran who led our event, this tasting was an unqualified success.

The idea this time was to pair up various chocolates with wines and then explore how they interacted with one another.

You can also do standalone chocolate tastings but we liked the idea of the combination.

We had to iterate a bit to decide which chocolates and wines to pair together but we started with a vague idea of the chocolates that we were interested in. Essentially a milk chocolate, a mildly bittersweet and a bittersweet chocolate.

Bob did some great research and guided us to the wines appropriate to our chocolate choices. He also found a very helpful article in the March or April Wine Spectator – a pull-out actually- that had a lot of useful tips.

In the end we went with Hershey’s Cacao Reserve chocolates and created some custom place-mats at .

We supplied wine aroma wheels that we picked up from Sherlocks – nice laminated plastic ones that can withstand a few spills if necessary and supplied tasting charts and glass place-mats courtesy of Recognose’s Wine aroma dictionary site . Specifically, head to the Wine Education Resources link at the bottom of the page for these and other very useful PDF files. Everybody got a copy of the PDF Wine aroma wheel to take with them in case they wanted to experiment on their own.

Here is how the tasting setup looked:




The tasting seemed to be well received. Bob, Kim, Bonnie, Denise, Don and Nathalie were there to enjoy the experience.




Denise *did* learn the hard way that wearing white to a wine tasting may be hazardous to your clothes.


Here, in the order we sampled them, are the wines and paired chocolates:

First was a wonderful Cabernet Sauvignon from Sonoma County called Sebastiani 2003:

2280 This was paired with Hershey’s Santo Domingo Cacao Reserve which has 67% cacao. The wine on its own was a delight but paired with this chocolate it took on some wonderful nuances as each element pulled aspects out of the other. I think this wine by far was the most popular of those we tried.

Next we sampled a dessert wine from Campbells called Rutherglen Tokay:

2284This was paired with Hershey’s Arriba Cacao Reserve which has 50% cacao. The wine was fairly sweet, not as sweet as the ice wines that I’ve tried but pretty strong on its own. When your palate is exposed to the paired chocolate they complemented each other very nicely. When I tried the stronger chocolate with this wine the two were quite discordant with one another.

Finally, for the “official” wines, we actually sampled a port. Dow’s Fine Tawny Porto.

2286This was paired with Hershey’s Java Cacao Reserve which has 37% cacao. I find port quite potent and this was no exception. But again, it drew some of the wonderful milk chocolate flavors out of our chocolate and the chocolate likewise complemented the wine. Also again, trying the other two chocolates with this particular wine was not at all as satisfying as was the sweeter milk chocolate that we’d chosen to go with it.

As a post tasting treat, we elected to try a sparkling wine, Banfi’s Rosa Regale 2005. This wine claims to enhance the flavor of chocolate on the label, but did not not seem too satisfying with any of the pure chocolates that we used with the other wines.



We did, however, have a great dessert that we had picked up from Douceur de France called “Chocolate Lovers”. This excellent, complex chocolate pastry worked very well with the Rosa Regale and they worked together superbly to round out the evening of wine and sweets.

Overall we learned an awful lot about the similarities between both chocolate and wine tasting and experienced some of the synergy that can be attained by proper pairing of these two most wonderful creations.

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