June 06, 2018

Chocolate Pairing Recommendations - Introduction

By Jerry Toth

Dark chocolate pairings with wine, spirits, and cheese 


The beauty of pairing chocolate with wine, whisky, or cheese is that it expands the range of sensations that you can experience during a tasting. But not all chocolate pairings work. For example, pairing dark chocolate with red wine is often a bad idea because the tannins clash. On the other hand, pairing a fruity expression of To’ak Chocolate with a single malt whisky that was aged in sherry casks (i.e. Aberlour, Macallan) usually works beautifully, owing to the nutty sweetness that the sherry casks impart on the whisky, which represents common ground with the chocolate.

Chocolate and whisky pairingA peaty dram of Laphroaig with To’ak Chocolate? The smoke and salty sea notes of the whisky pair imbue the chocolate with a nice savory tone, bringing the vegetal notes of the chocolate into balance with the fruit and caramel.

To take it one step deeper, add some Pyrenees sheep milk cheese into the equation, which will give structure to the cheese, soften the bitterness of the chocolate, and ultimately draw out the nuttiness inherent to both.

How to Pair Chocolate with Wine, Spirits, & Cheese (Free Guide). Read PDF

Those examples represent a tiny fraction of the full scope of possibilities. Playing around with different chocolate pairings is something we enjoy doing ourselves, but the sheer magnitude of options has inspired us to enlist the help of experts in different areas of the food and beverage industry. We have called upon some of the foremost mixologists, whisky specialists, wine sommeliers, and cheesemongers from across the world to help us identify the best pairings with To’ak Chocolate. 

Global Pairing Challenge

Every few weeks, we’re going to feature the chocolate pairing recommendations from a different industry expert. Each of them will walk us through their thought process, telling us about each recommendation and why they think it works. We’ll also use this as an opportunity to tell you about each industry expert, the special places where they work, and why we picked them to collaborate with us. Several of the most creative people in the food and wine industry are represented here, from some of the most innovative venues in the world, and we are honored to be working with them. A partial list includes:

• Pedro Shanahan from Seven Grand (Los Angeles)
• Pay Ray from The Violet Hour (Chicago)
• Antonio Lai from Quinary (Hong Kong)
• James Teng & Matthew Hall from Hakkasan (Shanghai)
• Nikita Matveev from Mandarin Oriental (Macau)
• Agostino Perrone from Connaught (London)

We start this series with Pedro Shanahan, the “Spirit Guide” from Seven Grand—the whisky mecca of Los Angeles.

Download the PDF

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