Booze + chocolate pairing question
August 15, 2008 5:33 AM   Subscribe

Booze + chocolate pairing question.

What kind of alcohol (can be a beer, wine, or liquor--though I'd like to stay away from the complexity/expense of a cocktail if possible) would you pair with a chocolate + bacon cupcake? (Chocolate used for the cupcake = Ghirardelli cocoa powder + butter + buttermilk, etc.; bacon is a smoked Canadian import browned to a crisp).

Bonus points for not costing too much, or being to hard to find.
posted by availablelight to Food & Drink (42 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
A nice Shiraz.
posted by Heretic at 5:47 AM on August 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


Beer - porter
Wine - a dry red
Liquor - bourbon
posted by backseatpilot at 5:47 AM on August 15, 2008


Stone Smoked Porter.
posted by uncleozzy at 6:00 AM on August 15, 2008


Best answer: I'd go with the beer. Mill Street in Toronto makes a Coffeehouse Porter (porter infused with coffee, and yes it is precisely as awesome as it sounds) that would be spectacular with that cupcake. A regular porter would do (and I guess it would be possible to duplicate with a shot of espresso, chilled, in the beer. Might require some tasty, tasty experimentation).

I know that red wine classically pairs with chocolate, but I personally find that anything really heavy in tannins detracts from the chocolate.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 6:13 AM on August 15, 2008


I'm gonna say the opposite of the other posters and suggest a lighter white wine like a pinot grigio or a gewurtztraminer. I think the red would muddy things up a bit too much. The white wine will be more of a palate cleanser.

I would second the recommendation for bourbon though.
posted by wabbittwax at 6:16 AM on August 15, 2008


Bushvine grenache.
posted by hot soup girl at 6:16 AM on August 15, 2008


Best answer: Beer -- Young's Double Chocolate Stout. And/or Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout.
posted by srrh at 6:18 AM on August 15, 2008 [2 favorites]


Dog Fish Head 90 minute IPA

It's high gravity (9%) so you get the punch that you won't get from a porter or stout, though certainly less than most wine. It won't muddy the chocolate with tannins like a traditional red wine pairing, and the slight bitterness of the hops will temper the saltiness of the bacon. Think of it as a palate cleanser.
posted by mrmojoflying at 6:29 AM on August 15, 2008


Also, Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale if you are into bourbon, which I'm not. Sorry, Louisville.
posted by mrmojoflying at 6:31 AM on August 15, 2008


oban scotch whiskey.

(oban is my favorite single malt for the price point.)
posted by rmd1023 at 6:33 AM on August 15, 2008


Trappist Beer. Preferably a tripple. Chimay is often available. I prefer West Malle.
posted by Goofyy at 6:53 AM on August 15, 2008


Aiya, I'm a hop head, but an IPA would go *terribly*, I would think.

My favorite beer with chocolate is Wasatch's Polygamy Porter, but that's rather difficult to get outside of Utah.
posted by notsnot at 6:57 AM on August 15, 2008


I would suggest a bubbly red like the Villa Banfi Rosa Regale Brachetto D'Acqui, which pairs really well with chocolate and should stand up to the bacon.
posted by onlyconnect at 7:08 AM on August 15, 2008


Lindeman's Kriek or Framboise.
posted by cog_nate at 7:09 AM on August 15, 2008


Bourbon (I'm not enough of a connoisseur to have a more specific recommendation).
posted by andrewraff at 7:39 AM on August 15, 2008


Traditionally, chocolate sets off wonderfully against port (sweet red wine). I think port would go nicely, or a late harvest Zinfandel (similar to port, somewhat less sweet) or even the right Cabernet Sauvignon (usually goes well with steaks, but one with "chocolate notes" might set off well and help handle the salty bacon).
posted by lubujackson at 7:44 AM on August 15, 2008


A porter would be good. Maybe a stout.

For wine, cabernet sauvignon. Or agree w/the above, zinfandel or a port.

Might be useful to think in terms of countries or cuisines that cook with a lot of salt pork/bacon and use that as a jumping off point for selections.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 7:53 AM on August 15, 2008


Knob Creek bourbon has a sort of smoky vanilla flavor I think would go great with that, but since Maker's is what I always have on hand, that's what I'd drink. If you're not into bourbon, I'd nth the suggestion to try a porter.
posted by fiercecupcake at 8:10 AM on August 15, 2008


Wines cannot match chocolate. The closest they can come is to be nice next to chocolate. A sweet wine will match the sweetness of the chocolate, but will otherwise fail in hitting any of the same flavor notes.

As far as beers go, there two ways to match: one is to find a good porter or stout. These beers have notes of chocolate and espresso that match chocolate very well. The other way is to match with a lambic like Lindemann's Framboise (raspberry). Lambics have strong fruit flavors that complement the chocolate extremely well, much like a fruit reduction sauce would be great on a chocolate torte.

Wines are truly great, but they lack range. If you're really interested in matching foods to beer, check out The Brewmaster's Table by Garrett Oliver. He explains this all in great, and entertaining, depth.
posted by explosion at 8:12 AM on August 15, 2008


Lambic would be gross with the bacon, IMO.

I'd go with a port, as others have suggested, or a cream/oloroso sherry.

explosion: Wines cannot match chocolate. The closest they can come is to be nice next to chocolate. A sweet wine will match the sweetness of the chocolate, but will otherwise fail in hitting any of the same flavor notes.

What??? For starters, one of the flavor notes for wine is chocolate.

explosion: Wines are truly great, but they lack range.

I'm sorry, but if you're going to pair (pardon the pun) this comment with praise for beer, you've totally undermined yourself. There is far greater variety in wine than in beer. It's not even close.
posted by mkultra at 9:05 AM on August 15, 2008


Wines are truly great, but they lack range.

There is far greater variety in wine than in beer.

On the internet, everybody is wrong!

I do agree that you'll want to avoid excessively hoppy beers, though. I still stand by the smoked porter (Stone's is not excessively smoked), but you might also do well with an Islay scotch. You've got your smoky, salty bacon bouncing up against the chocolate, why not throw a smoky, salty scotch at it, too? I'm partial to Laphroig, which is a bargain, as single malt goes.
posted by uncleozzy at 9:21 AM on August 15, 2008


Lambic would be gross with the bacon, IMO.

How so? The fruit flavor -- particularly of a Kriek -- would complement the chocolate extremely well, and the acidity would refresh the palate after the bacon. And no tannins or hop bitterness to interfere with the other flavors. Seriously, to me, it's almost ideal.
posted by cog_nate at 9:27 AM on August 15, 2008


A low-priced Sauternes would fit the bill. Monbazillac would be perfect, or Gaillac.
posted by nicolin at 9:29 AM on August 15, 2008


Response by poster: You guys are awesome. The best I could come up with on my own, given the salty-smokey bacon wildcard, was Makers Mark. Keep 'em coming, if you've got any more ideas.
posted by availablelight at 9:43 AM on August 15, 2008


You know, a mild chili (Ancho or Chipotle-based) pepper-porter or -stout would probably go pretty well w/that cupcake. Chocolate notes in the porter/stout plus the chili flavor working w/the smokiness of the bacon. There are a couple commercial examples of very limited availability, but I haven't tried them -- just my buddy's homemade Porter for Pyros.
posted by cog_nate at 9:50 AM on August 15, 2008


cog_nate: The fruit flavor -- particularly of a Kriek -- would complement the chocolate extremely well, and the acidity would refresh the palate after the bacon.

The goal of a paired beverage shouldn't be to "refresh the palate", as if the bacon taste were something that needed to be cleansed away after each mouthful, but to complement and highlight specific flavor characteristics. I could understand following up the entire thing with a glass of something tart and refreshing, but it interferes too much to drink while eating the dish.
posted by mkultra at 9:51 AM on August 15, 2008


Best answer: Or maybe, like uncleozzy suggested, even a regular smoked beer of some kind (porter or stout, preferably). You can search here for them -- select "Smoked" in the Beer Style drop-down menu -- and add your locale to see if any area available near you.
posted by cog_nate at 9:53 AM on August 15, 2008


it interferes too much to drink while eating the dish.

In my experience, it does not. You and I'll just have to disagree on this.

posted by cog_nate at 9:56 AM on August 15, 2008


This Oregon chocolate and wine bar suggests a smoky Syrah, Tempranillo or Malbec for their chocolate/bacon truffle.
posted by onlyconnect at 10:31 AM on August 15, 2008


My vote goes to Stone's 12th anniversary oatmeal chocolate stout. It's a special annual release, so it might be a bit harder to find. If you can't find it, go with the Stone smoked porter. Stone has great distribution for a craft brewery, so it should be easy to find and better than most of the crap you can get at the store.

I think Maker's Mark would overpower the chocolate. I definitely think any sort of kriek or lambic would be awful and would clash with the chocolate/bacon flavors, and the same goes with an IPA. The hops are just too strong and overpowering, especially if it's the first thing your tasters have had to drink all day. IPAs will mellow out a bit as you drink them, but with a cupcake, there's just not enough eating-time to make it through the initial harshness.

A lot of craft breweries these days (at least in San Diego) have barrel-aged versions of their dark, malty beers available that are aged in bourbon or whiskey barrels. These definitely have the taste of bourbon to them, but are still beer (albeit very, very strong). Hard to find and pricey though, so they probably don't fit your criteria as well as the Stone brews I mentioned.

On the wine side, I think a strong red would be nice too, but personally, bacon + beer is a match made in heaven.
posted by booknerd at 10:49 AM on August 15, 2008




Bourbon Old-Fashioned, not too sweet.
posted by Mngo at 12:23 PM on August 15, 2008


For Christmas, my brother sent me a bottle of Niepoort LBV and a small box of truffles. It was an lovely pairing.

Any good port, though, is a classic for pairing with chocolate.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:25 PM on August 15, 2008


Oh i think a great summer beer such as a Hoegaarden would be a great contrast to taste. A porter sounds a little heavy for the summer and I beleive that it would drown out the tast of both the porter and bacon cupcake. I'll also advise against a hoppy beer such as an IPA against something so salty sweet such as the cupcake you described.

I will second the dry red win or bourbon. Get a good bourbon for about $30. But unless you are a wine geek, stick with beer.
posted by thetenthstory at 12:41 PM on August 15, 2008


You and I'll just have to disagree on this.

Pfft, this is MeFi. We could have an all out flamefest over this, maybe with a Metatalk thread thrown in for good measure.
posted by mkultra at 12:48 PM on August 15, 2008


i like a nice chocolate liquer with chocolate because nothing complements chocolate like more chocolate. it helps cleanse the palete of the old chocolate with fresh new chocolate. thus multiplying the chocolatey goodness with more chocolate. although i should mention that a small team of psychiatrists have indicated i may have a slight problem with chocoholism....
posted by Redhush at 2:04 PM on August 15, 2008


Response by poster: Well, I tried my darnest to find a smoked or pepper porter or stout, but none in my area....so I went with Young's Double Chocolate Stout. (I'm hoping chocolate washed down with chocolate won't be too much.)

Hopefully it will be a hit. Thanks to all of you who steered me towards the beer aisle (and I'd never heard of Lambics, and now I know where to buy 5-6 different flavors in my neighborhood).
posted by availablelight at 2:42 PM on August 15, 2008


Wines cannot match chocolate. [...] Wines are truly great, but they lack range.

Please ignore everything this person said, as they have no clue what they are talking about.

How about a chocolate s'more martini?

Far too sweet.


Good call on the stout!
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 3:50 PM on August 15, 2008


Response by poster: Final Report:

The double chocolate stout was perfection.

Thanks again!
posted by availablelight at 8:00 PM on August 15, 2008


Here are some pairings put together by a pub owner and a chocolatier in Decatur, GA.
posted by PueExMachina at 8:21 PM on August 15, 2008


Unless you want a massive head-ache that will prevent you from ever buying Coffeehouse Porter, buy Coffeehouse Porter.
posted by strangelove at 9:07 PM on August 15, 2008


I do ntha Shiraz
posted by strangelove at 9:08 PM on August 15, 2008


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