Three great partners for chocolate
What wines can you drink with chocolate? It’s a question that often comes up.Sweet wines are the best bet, and the sweeter the chocolate or chocolate-based dish, the sweeter the wine needs to be.
First, let me say that I don’t go along with the idea which was fashionable a little while ago that red wines can go with chocolate. In my experience, they usually taste unpleasantly bitter and astringent, especially when the wine is young and tannic.
Sweet wines are the best bet, and the sweeter the chocolate or chocolate-based dish, the sweeter the wine needs to be. Unless you like to live dangerously, or you’ve trialled the dish with the wine in question in advance of serving it to your guests, my advice is to opt for sweet fortified wines. They’re never likely to fail.
Rutherglen Muscat and Topaque
Muscat is usually slightly sweeter, darker in colour and more luscious, but both can be exquisite sipping wines and great after meals, especially with chocolates. Topaque is made from muscadelle, a white grape (which strangely is not muscaty). Rutherglen brown muscat is a dark-skinned grape. The grapes are picked very ripe, and undergo a short fermentation leaving a high level of natural sweetness. This wine is fortified and aged in oak barrels. The best muscats are very old and tremendously complex; luscious wines which are almost unique in the wine world.
Suggestion: Morris Old Premium Rare Liqueur Muscat $60/500ml
Wonderfully intense, unctuous, luscious wine which combines grapy muscat fruit character with the complexity of great age. You’ll need the help of a dictionary to describe such complex flavours. Simply magnificent.
Madeira ranges from very dry to very sweet, and Malmsey (or Malvazia) is the sweetest. Madeira is produced on the island of Madeira, which is part of Portugal, a country with a great history of fortified wine. The most unusual feature of Madeira wine is that it’s heated during the ageing process, which confers a peculiar flavour as well as acting as a mild kind of pasteurization.
Suggestion: Blandy’s Malmsey Madeira Vintage 1999 $95/500ml
Still relatively youthful, but a superb wine with classic ‘cooked’ Madeira character and concentration. Smoke, caramel and dried-citrus nuances. There’s nothing else that tastes quite like Madeira.
Spanish PX (Pedro Ximenez)
This is produced in the Sherry country of Andalusia in the south of Spain, and adjoining areas, and is made by fortifying unfermented pedro ximenez grape-juice and ageing it in oak casks for long periods of time. It becomes fabulously concentrated and luscious, so that just a thimble is enough.
Suggestion: Toro Albala Don PX Gran Reserva 1987 $59/375ml
Deep brown and viscous in the glass, chocolate, raisin and spices to smell, wonderful depth of flavour. A decadent, lusciously sweet fortified wine.
*All of these wines are approx. 20% alcohol.