This chocolate board is the ultimate party dessert. Learn how to taste chocolate, pair it with wine, and build the chocolate board with fruits and nuts.
As a former winemaker and a never-ending student of the wine world, I always look for fun ways to incorporate tastings into my life. The most obvious ways are flights of wines or cheese boards, but this year I was inspired by Valentine’s Day to push the tasting theme a little further: with a chocolate board!
how to taste chocolate
I found four different chocolates, in this case a white, a creamy milk, a 57% cacao and an 87% cacao, and arranged them with dried fruits, nuts, cookies and fresh strawberries.
When tasting the chocolates, always go from the darkest and most bitter to the sweetest, ending with the white chocolate whenever possible. This will help you taste all of the nuances of the cacao before your palate gets bogged down by the cream and sugar.
Guests can sample different chocolates and notice how certain nuts or dried fruit accentuate the flavors. It’s so much fun, engaging and is the ultimate dessert for a party.
To take it up a notch, I’d recommend pouring a few different wines to play off of the chocolates. For wine pairing ideas, see below!
how to taste chocolate with wine
The best way to go about the tasting is to sip the wine and note the flavors and the balance of sweetness, acidity and warming alcohol. Then take a piece of chocolate and let it melt on your tongue. Note the flavors, the texture and the balance of sweetness and bitterness.
With the chocolate still coating your palate, take another sip of the wine and explore how the flavor and balance have changed.
Is the wine more expressive? More balanced? Less balanced? How has the chocolate changed? Is is more bitter? Note what you experience and what you like. Keep sipping, tasting, and enjoying!
how to make the chocolate board
- different chocolates: could be different levels of cacao, or even the same percent cacao from different countries
- dried fruit: apricots, figs, tart cherries, raisins, dates, banana chips, candied ginger, candied citrus peel
- roasted nuts: hazelnuts, pecans, almonds, walnuts
- fresh fruit: strawberries, orange segments, raspberries, blackberries, peaches, plums
- cookies or bread: biscotti, almond cookies, shortbread, fig and anise bread,
wine and chocolate pairings
- oloroso sherry: nutty, dry, has enough character to stand up to dark chocolates, it’s especially fun with hazelnut or almond studded chocolate.
- this is one of my favorite dry wines to pair with chocolate. It’s fortified and oxidatively aged to give the wine rich nutty flavors and heft to complement the chocolate.
- ruby port or VDN from southern France (Banyuls, for example): sweet, intense and brimming with rich dried fruit flavor. Try with both milk and dark chocolates to see what you like!
- ice wines (especially those made from riesling): fresh fruit flavors and high acid balances the sweetness of white chocolate
- lambrusco: frothy sparkling red wines from central Italy that come in a variety of sweetness levels. If you have an especially sweet one, try it with milk chocolate! The drier the wine, the more it will complement darker chocolate.
Just remember, there’s no hard and fast rule for what wine goes with what food. Everyone has different taste buds and different preferences! Mix and match the wines and chocolates and see which you prefer. Have fun!