Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Chocolate Pairings for New Years

I often get questions about pairing chocolate with wine and other liquors. Actually, more often than not, it's a question about pairing red wine with chocolate. While red wine can be paired with chocolate, it can be a challenge.

The advice I give my customers is to pick wines and chocolates that have similar flavor profiles. If you have a wine with strong red fruit and citrus notes, then a chocolate made with cacao from Madagascar might be just the ticket. But if your wine doesn't have red fruit and citrus notes, it's probably not going to pair well with chocolate from Madagascar.

One of my new year's resolutions is to try red wine with chocolate more often so I can provide better guidance to customers who would like to pair these two treats. I thought for New Year's I'd provide some of my favorite liquor and chocolate pairings.

Single Malt Scotch and Chocolate
One of my favorite pairings with chocolate is single-malt Scotch. Make sure to choose a Scotch that isn’t too smoky or peaty. Some suggestions:

Port and Chocolate
My husband and I went to the Douro Valley in Portugal during harvest season for our honeymoon. We had the opportunity to "tread" grapes with the locals, and I got to know and love Port well.

One of my favorite treats is chocolate with a glass of colheita Port (a tawny that's been barrel aged since harvest). It's not a treat I can afford often, so my sips come only once in awhile. If you’re looking for a special Port for New Year’s, try a Quinta do Noval Tawny Colheita. The richness of an aged colheita is an incredible experience with any fine chocolate.
Anise Ganache Fig

If you’d prefer to pair a vintage, late bottle vintage or ruby Port with chocolate, our award-winning Anise Ganache Filled Figs are a fantastic option. We stuff black mission figs with a chocolate truffle that's been lightly infused with anise, and then we dip the whole thing in chocolate. Our figs won Judges Choice for Best Confection at the NW Chocolate Festival. We made a few too many last week, so we've put them on sale for $1 this week, while supplies last. It's not likely you'll see such a bargain on our figs again.

Quinta do Noval is hard to find in Seattle, but those of you in other major cities should have no problem. If you're in Seattle, try The Spanish Table or Wine World. They're your best bets for a good selection of Port.

Champagne and Chocolate
The acid qualities of champagne and sparkling wines can make them tough to pair with chocolate. Chocolate dipped fruits like our apricots or pears are the perfect complement to a glass of bubbly. We dip dried California apricots and Extra Fancy Pears in Valrhona dark chocolate made with cacao from Africa. Delicious and elegant-looking, our pears and apricots are sure to be a hit on your New Year’s table!

I don't know much at all about Armagnac, but I do know it pairs well with chocolate. Our friends, Dawn and Eric Wright, shared some with my husband and I shortly before I opened Chocolopolis, and it really was a treat. If your budget permits, I highly recommend it.

May your 2012 be filled with health, happiness and fantastic chocolate!


Chief Chocophile

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