Wine and Chocolate ~ it’s not just for dessert

A participant at one of my recent wine and dinner pairings was kind enough to send me some photographs from the event. The photos were so evocative of the experience that they made me feel excited about it all over again. So much so, that I decided to share the virtual experience.
In collaboration with the award-winning talents of Chef Daniel Chong Jimenez, the Wine Institute of New England brought together two of life’s greatest pleasures…chocolate and wine. Red, white and fortified wines were paired with delectable chocolate creations, including seared cocoa-dusted Stonington scallops, braised short ribs with chocolate espresso sauce, and an exquisite chicken mole. For the finale, our guests’ tastebuds were tantalized with a warm chocolate truffle seasoned with star anise and hazelnuts, adorned with candied orange peel and candied jalapeno peppers. Heavenly!

The wine pairings were as follows:

Cocoa-Dusted Scallops – 2008 Monmousseau Vouvray
Notes: This off dry medium-bodied white made from 100% chenin blanc had the perfect combo of peach, citrusy acid, floral and honey notes to balance its mineral flavors and slightly sweet finish. The cocoa on the scallops, although bitter, was slightly sweetened with brown sugar, making this a perfect pairing.
Short Ribs w/Espresso Sauce – 2008 Rancho Zabaco Sonoma Heritage Vines Zinfandel
Notes: The black fruit and pepper of this zin were a perfect match to the espresso sauce. The subdued jamminess balanced, rather than overwhelmed, the dish.
Chicken in Mole Sauce – 2008 Strong Arms Shiraz
A huge wine for a huge sauce! Bursting with both fruit and spice, this shiraz was big enough to not only stand up to the mole, but provide the perfect complement to it.
Star Anise-Infused Warm Chocolate Truffle – Sandeman Tawny Porto
Tawny port provides a sensational pairing for chocolate desserts generally, and for warm, gooey chocolate specifically. This tawny had just the right amount of richness, complexity, layering and nuttiness needed to do these beautiful truffles justice.