I had only heard about pairing aged sake (koshu, 古酒) with chocolate, so I was surprised when Matthew Headland (@connectniigata) suggested pairing non-aged sakes. I had plenty of chocolate left over from our Easter chocolate tasting, so I decided to give it a try! The two Dolphin bars were gone by now, although I still had a bit of the 40% and half the 35% Labooko bar and most of the 80% and 100% single origin bars. 

With no idea how to go about it, I searched for some ideas on how to taste chocolate with wine, and came across a guide to chocolate and wine tasting from Lindt. I went with the suggestion of allowing the chocolate to partially melt in your mouth and then drinking, although I’ll look around again and see if there are other suggestions. In the end I tasted each combination twice, once with the chocolate and sake in the mouth together and once drinking the sake after eating the chocolate, while the aftertaste was still there.

I took the chocolate out of the fridge to let it come up to room temperature, then took the sake out just before I started so it was chilled but not too cold – I only had one bottle left in the fridge, the lovely Kotsuizumi Rojo-hana-ari Kurobotan junmai daiginjo.

Labooko Panama 35%

  • With sake: No. The Panama 35% is very mild and sweet, with a creamy, slightly spicy coconut flavour, and drinking the sake with it in my mouth turned the combination acidic, sharp and sour.
  • Sake after chocolate: Still no, the lingering sweetness of the chocolate aftertaste made the sake taste sour.

Labooko Santo Domingo 40%

  • With sake: Better, but still not a good match. There was none of the sourness that came with the Panama 35%.
  • Sake after chocolate: Against the aftertaste of the chocolate, the sake was sharp and bitter. Not a good match.

Migros Selection Trinidad 80%

  • With sake: I was starting to think the sake and chocolate combination wasn’t going to work at all at this point, so I was pleasantly surprised to find that this was a much better match! The chocolate was strong enough to complement the sake, and the flavours blended together well to give a liqueur chocolate taste with a lovely finish. The sake really brought out the cocoa notes in the chocolate. 
  • Sake after chocolate: Really nice, the sake worked well against the rich aftertaste, providing lighter notes which complemented the lingering flavours.

Migros Selection Madagascar 100%

  • With sake: No sourness, but the flavours didn’t mix at all and stayed separate in the mouth.
  • Sake after chocolate: The 100% bar didn’t have much of an aftertaste, so there wasn’t much for the sake to work with. The sake was pleasant after the chocolate, but there was no mingling of flavour like there was with the 80%.

So, all in all, a bit of a mixed result although the 80% was promising. I’ll have to try again, maybe with a 60% or 70% bar, and also try different styles of sake. Needless to say, after good experiences with nigori and dessert, that’s top of my list!