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Sweet wine and chocolate

I decided to expand on the theme of my last blog following an enquiry from a family member who is a self-confessed chocolate hound with an insatiable appetite for sugar.  He asked which of our sweet wines I would be choosing to drink with Delia`s Chocolate Bread and Butter Pudding, a rich, stodgy milk-chocolate dish we plan to make next weekend for a family gathering; a dish which is potentially death-by-chocolate.  I chose Graham`s 10 Year Old Tawny Port, a luxuriously sweet and nutty beverage which I last had in Portugal with Crème Brulée, similarly rich and creamy.  It got me thinking about other sweet pairings. How about dense and treacly sweet puddings such as Sticky Toffee Pudding?  Tawny port again? Malmsey Madeira? Better still, Rutherglen Muscat from Victoria, Australia. A dark amber raisin-like wine it has complex notes of spiced orange, date, toffee and caramel.   And how about a dark bitter- chocolate dish?  Denser, less sweet – even savoury. This calls for Catherine Marshall`s “Myriad” from Elgin in South Africa, with its black cherry, cake spice and coffee notes.   Or perhaps France`s Domaine de Beaurenard Rasteau Vin Doux Naturel, from the Rhone region. For me these are the more interesting sweeties: sweet, fortified red wines, the addition of spirit having arrested their fermentation, retaining some, but not excessive, residual sweetness. Complex and bitter-sweet they are as much savoury as sweet.   Yet the most popular by a large margin are the yellow and golden sweet wines.  A lighter chocolate mousse or chocolate profiterole would be best accompanied by one of these. A Muscat de Beaumes-de- Venise or Brown Brother Orange Muscat & Flora.  Now we start to move to the fresher styles, neither impossibly sweet and unctuous, nor yet medium-dry. Sweet-tasting notes with refreshing acidity – orange blossom, apricot and citrus fruits often feature – our `go-to` when we have one of Janet`s famous apricot frangipane flans, for example.  There are myriad styles within the category, and the best of it is they age beautifully too, becoming richer and honeyed.

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