Do a Wine and Chocolate Tasting!

by Vicky Farrow, Proprietor, Amista Vineyards, Healdsburg, CA  

Vicky Farrow

Vicky Farrow


“What chocolate do you pair with un-oaked Chardonnay”?  I must admit, it never occurred to me to ask the question.  Then one night I was pouring our Amista Vineyards wines at an event and I met Elyce Zahn, founder of Cocotutti.  She was sampling her amazing hand-made truffles and Bon Bons at the same event.” 

“Elyce appeared at my table, tasted our two estate wines – a Chardonnay and a Syrah – and promptly declared that she was going to pair each wine with one of her chocolates.  Ha!  I thought.  There’s no chocolate that will go with un-oaked Chardonnay – or any Chardonnay for that matter.  I wasn’t even so sure about the Syrah.  The classic wine and chocolate pairing is with Port, although I personally prefer a rich dark truffle with a rich dark Cabernet.”   Vicky

Wine and Chocolate tasting: “That night began another great pairing -Cocotutti and Amista Vineyards.   People who love wine usually love food and delight in

Elyce & a chocolate & wine tasting

Elyce & a chocolate & wine tasting

experiencing the marriage of the two.  I must admit, I’m one of those people.  I love to try the Chef’s pairing menu in a special restaurant as much as my husband (winemaker and home chef) likes experimenting with different wine and food combinations while making dinner on a Tuesday evening.  But there’s another kind of pairing that is equally exhilarating – the creation of partnerships and friendships that form around wine.  That’s the aspect of wine that brings me the greatest joy.

It was exciting to meet Elyce and discover her passion for creating new chocolates.  It was fun to trade stories about how she came to be a chocolatier from a completely different profession, much like my husband and I came to own a vineyard and start a winery.  It was fascinating to learn more about pairing wine and chocolate.  That first meeting turned into an ongoing relationship. 

Like so many relationships, wine and chocolate have a long history and in some cases, a checkered past.  How often have you heard – white wine and chocolate don’t mix?  Or only sample dark chocolate, not milk.


It’s time to move forward from these ancient ideas!  Cappuccino and fig truffles in roasted walnuts arechard and cocotutti-u2551 devine with chardonnay – especially a robust one.  Delicate citrus and herbacious flavors found in a lemon lavender balance nicely with Sauvignon Blanc.  Berry truffles have had long, satisifying relationships with red wine of all sorts.  Now it’s time to expand your palate by pairing spiced chocolate with a rich merlot or cab.  And yes, that same spice can balance the silky sweet of a late harvest.

So how to do this in the privacy of your own home?  And maybe with friends? (Shocking!)

Best to pick out 2 to 3 wines.  Your favorites are great to start with as you will already know the flavor profile of each.  Next, purchase a fine box of chocolates with flavored ganache.  Be on the wild side; all fine chocolate makers are experimenting with unusual combinations – take advantage

of that.  If the pieces are the typical almost 1-inch square, you may need to cut them into smaller 1/4″ bites so that there’s enough for everyone –

unless you bought the BIG box.  I generally recommend that you have 4-6 different flavors of chocolates – or filled chocolate bars (again for

chopping down into small pieces).

Have everyone sample one of the wines.  Allow the flavors to develop on your tongue.  As part of the game – have everyone say what fruit/spice

/herbs/citrus they first thought of when tasting that particular wine.  Now sample a piece of chocolate.  Think of what that flavor profile is to you. 

Sip the wine and start thinking about how the taste of the chocolate has brought up nuances of the wine that you haven’t noticed earlier, or maybe reinforced some of the dominant flavors. 


Cabernet & Chocolate

Cabernet & Chocolate

Again, go around and see what people think.  Does the combination enhance both wine and chocolate (the perfect marriage)?  Or not?  Maybe

negatively effect the flavor of one or both (it may be like the relationship you have with your least favorite relative).  Maybe both are fine on their

own (just friends.)  Or maybe a divorce is in the offing – at first the combination seemed like a great idea, but not so much in the long run.


Repeat the fun with the next chocolate until all have been sampled, and then move to the next wine – again, sipping first, then trying out all of the chocolates whether you think they’ll go or not.  You may be surprised at what a blind date may have to offer!


CocoTutti can supply you with chocolate for your dating game.  Find them at:




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