The panel that I organized at the 2009 Florida Winefest turned out to be a tremendous success. It had to do with the wine, as well as the chocolates, and most importantly – the people who filled the panel.

Reds Wines and Decadent Chocolate: Pinot, Cabernet, and Petite Sirah Seminar
Date: Friday, April 24
Time: 1:30 p.m.
The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota

I pulled most of the panel members from the PS I Love You group, while Greg Lint of Oak Knoll finalized the group. In the placemat image, the circular chocolates are the Wine Lovers, and the square one is the Vosges.

On the panel, left to right:

Greg Lint (Oak Knoll Winery, a former Chocolatier)

Mike Phillips (Michael-David Winery)

Jo Diaz

Jeff Miller (Artisan Family of Wines)

John Monnich (Silkwood Wines).

All of these gentlemen joined me as participatants in a tasting of red wines that started with a lighter Pinot Noir to the bigger, heartier red wines (Cabernet Sauvignon to Petite Sirah) with  decadent chocolate delights from both the Wine Lover Chocolates and Katrina Markoff’s Vosges Chocolates.

Katrina Markoff is a disciple of Ferran and Alberto Adria of Spain’s famed El Bulli restaurant. The ultra chic chocolatier Katrina Markoff’s creations stir up many exotic influences.

The Wine Lover’s Chocolate Collection admits that the natural affinity between dark chocolate and red wine is no secret: restaurants often pair after-dinner wines with chocolate desserts, and many desserts themselves incorporate both chocolate and flavors that are often found in red wine, such as berry, mint or coffee. The Wine Lover’s Chocolate Collection takes this idea one step further, creating a way for people to experience the subtleties of wine and chocolate together without a lot of guesswork or pretension.

Each panel member first talked about his wine company and the wine that would be tasted. Participants were encouraged to taste that panel member’s wine, in order to become familiar with its flavors. Once each wine was tasted with the panel members, then Greg Lint made a chocolate presentation, and described how Chocolate Lover’s Chocolates – with their percent of cocoa powder – has the ability to match well with certain wine varieties. Each chocolate was tasted with the appropriate variety, and decisions were made by each attendee. Jeff Miller has also taken the panel so seriously that before he left his Napa residence, he conducted his own seminar, and gave the results of what he also found.

Other winemakers also weighed in on what they thought, based on what they tasted, as did the audience.

According to the Wine Lover’s Chocolate Collection, Cocoa Percents Pair best with the following:

  • 54% Port
  • 55% Cabernet
  • 56% Pinot Noir
  • 58% Merlot
  • 61% Syrah
  • 64% Bordeaux
  • 72% Zinfandel

This red wine and chocolate experience  proved that red wine and chocolate can be a perfect food and wine pairing, if done thoughtfully.

  • Petite Sirah: One Grape, Different Expressions (