A New Year's Eve chocolate and wine tasting party

Looking for a unique, easy, as well as educational way to bring in the New Year?  Try this tasting party. Photo: Wine tasting taste treat

NORTHFIELD, Minn., December 28, 2011 — Why go another year without knowing what chocolate to pair with what wine? Host a party where guests are invited to bring their favorite wine, port and/or chocolate. Then, try combinations until you arrive at a perfect pairing.

How many people should you invite?

When our family hosted our Wine, Port, and Chocolate Tasting Party, we invited eight guests so we could all fit around one table. If you have more than one table, you could host more guests. One person was the designated driver.

Guests were asked to bring their favorite wine, chocolate, and/or port to share during the tasting. If you prefer to fully host the tasting, double the amounts of chocolate, wine, and port noted.

What supplies do you need?

Six large bars of high quality chocolate came from our Food Coop; some spicy, some nutty, some plain. Our daughter broke the bars into bite size pieces and placed them in individual bowls on our table. She taped the wrapper around a cardboard piece and placed these to stand within in each bowl. Mixed nuts and pretzels proved to be good choices that we offered. These provide another taste (salty) and texture (crunchy).

The wine we provided for the party included a chocolate raspberry wine, an old vine Zinfandel, and a ruby port. Guests brought many interesting varieties of wine and port. One chocolate wine was fun for guests to try. Note cards and pens were provided for guests to take notes of preferences.

How about glasses to have on hand and do you need a serving bar?

Time to pop the cork for New Year’s

Wine glasses (two per person) were placed onto our kitchen island (which became our serving bar). Port glasses came from storage; my husband’s grandfather gave them and this was our first chance to use them. If you don’t have small glasses, you can find an assortment of small port glasses at many thrift stores.  Providing drinking glasses for water is also essential. Guests filled their own water from our refrigerator; you can also fill pitchers with water.

What about trying a signature chocolate dessert?

In addition to purchased chocolate bars, we splurged on a flourless chocolate cake/torte, which can be purchased or made, using the recipe below.

Chocolate cheesecake is another excellent choice to pair with port for special occasions. Dessert plates and small forks were used for the torte. Guests cut their own slices. Coffee can be an option too.

The Chocolate Torte was a hit and several guests said they would make it for a special dinner – like New Years Day – and pair it with a port.

Chocolate Torte with Raspberry Sauce

1 lb. semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/4 cup of cocoa

2 sticks of butter

5 eggs

1 cup of sugar

Melt first three ingredients together slowly in microwave or over low heat or in a saucepan, stirring frequently. Meanwhile, beat eggs and sugar in a mixer bowl on high speed until thick. Slowly add chocolate mixture to eggs until batter is mixed. Pour into a 12 inch spring form pan or large pie plate that was sprayed with nonstick spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes until firm.

Raspberry Sauce

1 - 12 ounce package frozen raspberries

1/2 cup of sugar

1/4 cup of water

1 12 oz container of seedless raspberry jam

Place the raspberries, sugar and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 4 minutes. Chill. To serve, pour into a fancy bowl. The sauce may be poured onto the serving plate ahead of the chocolate torte, poured on the side, or both.

What did we learn?

A toast to a Happy New Year

One rule of thumb is “your drink should be sweeter than your chocolate.” The taste testing resulted in dry red wine being enjoyed with nuts and/or pretzels and the port with the chocolates. Each person had a different favorite pairing.

Guests brought home the leftover supplies that they brought to the tasting (or you could be overwhelmed with extras). The day after the party, our children had friends over to assist with the leftovers. They enjoyed a chocolate party too, but with water.

Pairing chocolate and wine provides double antioxidants. One glass of wine paired with a small piece of chocolate with more than 70% cacao can be good for you.

This party was unique, easy to prepare, and educational. A great way to bring in the New Year!

Please Comment: All tales of tasting parties are welcome.

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Donna Rae Scheffert

Donna Rae Scheffert is a facilitator, consultant and writer. Find more information online at www.online-leadership-tools.com

She lives in Minnesota with her husband and teenage son and daughter.

Honors and awards include University of Minnesota -Distinguished Extension Campus Faculty Award; Minnesota Rural Futures-FUTURES award; and numerous state and national awards for programs and publications.

Scheffert is an author of practical fieldbooks: Committees That Work: Common Traps and Creative Solutions; Social Capital, Building Leadership Programs, and Facilitation Resources available from http://www.online-leadership-tools.com/Scheffert-Tools.html

Donna Rae is also a Senior Consultant with www.Action-Wheel.com and an Associate with www.deepSEEconsulting.com.

Her civic participation includes: Board Member-Community Action Center; Board Member-Women’s Philanthropic Group, and soccer team coordinator.

Photo Credit: Amber Procaccini

Leadership development expert & educator, Donna Rae Scheffert knows how public action by others for others improves lives - she helps people to get involved and provides tools to propel them toward their goals easier, faster, and with more fun. Read more from Donna Rae at www.online-leadership-tools

Follow Donna Rae www.Twitter.com or www.facebook.com or www.linkedin.com





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