What to DRINK With That : Dark Chocolate Fondue

WTDWT-Dark chocolate fondue

What to DRINK with That : Dark Chocolate Fondue

*Note – this column was originally published in the print edition of EAT Magazine, January 2011. 


DRINK editor, Treve Ring, asks local wine experts how they would approach pairing dishes and flavours. This time we tackle DARK CHOCOLATE FONDUE. Cool, crisp nights calls for hunkering down and heating up with deep, dark chocolate fondue with all the fixings. This time Treve split it up – giving each expert specific directions on new world, old world and (gasp) dry wine pairings.

Our Experts:

Kurtis Kolt (KK)
Kurtis Kolt is a BC-based wine director, competition judge, consultant, speaker and writer who was awarded the Sommelier of the Year Award at the 2010 Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival for his work at Vancouver’s Salt Tasting Room. Certified by the Wine & Spirit Education Trust and with credits in the Winemaking program at UC Davis, Vancouver-based Kolt is a popular consultant in the hospitality industry.

Sharon McLean (SM)
Sharon McLean is a certified sommelier (through International Sommelier Guild), libations writer for Boulevard magazine and the instructor of Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) courses on Vancouver Island for the International Culinary School.  In 2009, she completed the prestigious WSET Diploma with the highest marks in Canada and was awarded a travel scholarship by Wine Australia. She has recently started her Masters of Wine studies.

Samantha Rahn (SR)
Samantha Rahn is the Wine Director at Araxi in Whistler, where she has been looking over their award-winning cellar since 2007. A passionate sommelier and world-traveller, she arrived in Whistler following a tour through Burgundy where she joined in the harvest pick at Domaine Michel Gros, Vosne Romanée. Trained at the Wine and Spirit Education Trust and with over 10 years of hospitality experience, Samantha sources exciting, value-driven wines to complement Araxi’s highly acclaimed, 11,000 bottle library.


What to DRINK with Dark Chocolate Fondue?



KK – I’d head down to Argentina for a Malbec that offers some of those wonderfully dark and dusty cocoa notes, along with typical flavours of baking spices like clove, cinnamon, nutmeg and anise.


SM – Banyuls, a Grenache-based lightly fortified wine from the Roussillon region in the South of France is my choice.  The dark chocolate fondue is no shrinking violet and needs a powerful wine to stand up to it.  Banyuls, with its full body and powerful notes of dried cherries, strawberries, figs, caramel and nuts is up to the job.


SR- I am definitely rediscovering great California Zinfandels (especially rich, sunny Zins from Paso Robles), and they can have a nice affinity for dark chocolate, especially when you dunk some delicious fruits, or my favorite fondue dipper, banana bread, in it.


BONUS question – what is your all time favourite chocolate and wine pairing?

KK – Specifically, I’ve always enjoyed Thomas Haas’ Chocolate Sparkle Cookies with the Gonzales Byass Nutty Solera Oloroso Sherry.  I find the rich, chocolaty elements are enhanced by the toffee-coated hazelnut notes of the Sherry and especially that lashing of a Bourbon-styled heat that is synonymous with Oloroso.

SM – I prefer to eat my chocolate and drink my wine separately!  Most chocolate dishes have an element of sweetness that often makes dry wines seem tart and tannic.  While I can enjoy some sweeter wines, like Port, Madeira or a sweeter Sherry with chocolate, my preference is to let the chocolate take centre-stage as the diva it is!

SR – I am such a big fan of sweet wines, and the first person to convince my guests to explore them. My favorite chocolate dish to pair is Araxi pastry chef Aaron Health’s Chocolate Fondant, a version of the classic molten cake made with Valrhona Chocolate. My number one pairing choice is Banyuls from Chapoutier.  This vin doux naturel from southern France is magical with chocolate.


Written By:

Treve Ring is a wine writer, editor, judge, consultant and certified sommelier, and has been with EAT Magazine for over a decade.\r\n\r\nIn addition to her work with EAT, she is a Wine Critic and National Judge for ...

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