I was luckily enough to be invited to an event hosted by leading Chocolate brand Godiva and leading Port producers Ramos Pinto, which was all about how to pair chocolate with different ports. This was hosted by the amazing Master of Wine and founding member of the UK’s Academy of Chocolate Sarah Jane Evans, and held in the equally splendid surroundings of Hix Selfridges.
The Ports ranged in price and age / vintage, and although I may have been partial to a port after a good meal out, I wouldn’t profess to know anything in the slightest about the drink…that was about to change!
The first port we had was the “Collector” Ruby Reserve Port Priced at £15.99 (first left glass in the above picture), we were advised that this was an entry level port. This was paired with Godiva’s Saint Germain Chocolate (top left on the plate in the above picture). This is a lovely marzipan enrobed in rich dark chocolate. Our instructions were to first smell the port, then take a small sip and keep in your mouth to coat all the taste buds. Then take a bite of the chocolate, have a slight chew to get the flavours started, then have another sip of the port – what a difference in the flavours of the port! The rich berry flavours of the port mixed with the almonds of the chocolates produced an alcoholic bakewell flavour…my, if this was the first pairing and they’re all like this we’re in for a good night!
The second port we had was the LBV 2008 which was priced at £21.99 (second left glass in the above picture). Both this and the third port were made in the same traditional way of having the grapes “stomped” to release the juice. This was paired with Godiva’s Intense Framboise which is a 72% dark chocolate with a Raspberry ganache centre. I found this port very acidic, so I tried the part of the chocolate that wasn’t decorated with the freeze dried raspberries to try to counter the acidity. I found that the chocolate itself had a dull flavour when mixed with the port, which had a heavier flavour. This was not my favourite combination of the evening.
The third port was the “Classic” Vintage 2000 priced at £65 (first from left in the picture). This was paired with Godiva’s Dark Orangette. To me this produced a dull flavour, but it was consistent in it’s duration if that makes sense…it never over powered the port, yet it didn’t enhance it in my opinion. The port on it’s own was amazing though.
The fourth Port was truly special, this was Adriano White Reserve Port, priced at £16.99 (first form left in the picture). For this one, Sarah Jane had paired two chocolates, Signature Blanc Cafe and Eclat Feuilletine from Godiva (Middle Row in the picture). Very few of us managed to find a good pairing for this. Sarah Jane really liked the coffee flavour from the Blanc Cafe with this port. For me, the port had such a stand out flavour of yellow fruits and vanilla, which left a lovely caramel taste in the mouth. I actually quite liked the first chocolate Saint Germain with it, but as a group we couldn’t agree.
We then moved onto the two twany ports, which were made from grapes from single vineyards. The first was Quinta de Ervamoira, priced at £20.99. After the smoothness and amazing flavour of the white port I was ready to give up as I didn’t think anything would be as nice, but this port left a lovely honey and caramel after taste, which at 10 year old would get better with time. This was paired with the Speculoos Truffle from Godiva. I liked how the milk mousse enhanced the honey caramel flavour. I also liked the Dark Orangette with this.
The final port of the evening was Quinta do Bon-Retiro, priced at £37. This was the more mature of the ports at 20yrs. Sarah Jane again chose 2 chocolates for us to try – Mokolata and Tourbillion (bottom row in the picture above). Again Sarah Jane paired a coffee chocolate with this. I found that the chocolate flavour reduced the taste of alcohol in this port but again didn’t add to it much.
I had a brilliant evening and learned so much about pairing chocolates with alcohol. For me the stand out pairing was the first one, the Ruby Reserve and the Saint Germain Marzipan, that set the bar that really, no other pairing came close.
The other stand out for me was the white Adriano Reserva. 1% of this port was made in 1964! At £16.99, it’s not an everyday port, but for a special occasion it will be my “go to “bottle