Wine and chocolate may seem like best pals in theory, but the pairing can pose some challenges. The key to pairing wine with chocolate is that the wine must be the sweetest element. That requires some fortification (added alcohol and residual sugar). One way to think about it is, the darker the food, the darker the wine. Dark chocolate and port are a fantastic combination, but if chocolate isn’t your jam, port goes just as beautifully with salty blue cheese.
Patterson Cellars Port 2015
(Red Mountain; $40 375 ml) 18.3% alcohol
Made from traditional Portuguese varietals (Tinta Roriz, Souzão, Touriga Naçional, Tinta Cão), this ruby-style port has a deep purple color with aromas of spices and dried fruit. On the palate, it is sweet but not syrupy and tastes of blackberries and dark cherries.
Torii Mor Syrah Port 2011
(Rogue Valley; $45 375 ml) 20.6% alcohol
This Syrah-based port, made with southern Oregon fruit, claims the darkest hue of all these suggestions. It is rich and intense with blackberries and blue fruit, finishing with just a bit of spice and tannins.
Sparkman Cellars Hallelujah Port 2014
(Yakima Valley; $50 500 ml) 19% alcohol
Touriga Naçional and Souzão team up with 160-proof spirits to form the powerful backbone of this delightful port. Caramel and cinnamon notes, along with blackberry (sensing the port theme yet?) and cherry carry like a ribbon over the palate.
Brian Carter Cellars Opulento Port 2013
(Yakima Valley; $22 375 ml) 19% alcohol
Comprised of traditional Portuguese varietals and fortified with brandy from 3 Howls Distillery in Ballard, this inky-dark red port hints of raspberry, cherry and a little almond in the nose before opening onto the palate with chocolate and berry.