Port and Chocolate Pairing Bliss

Holiday season lurks on the horizon, so what better time to dig into pairing chocolate with Port? Both evoke images of light snow falling, family get-togethers, and a slow warmth that slides down your throat, pools into your toes, and meanders back up again to give you a heady delight. To best equip you to ooze into that proverbial puddle in the yummiest way possible, here is some sage advice from Anton Hicks, my new best friend and Managing Partner of Nectar Wine Lounge, a gem of a spot in San Francisco’s Marina district.

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Anton is always eager to share his love and knowledge of wine, so I was shocked to find out he has only been in the industry for about five years now. “I’m relatively new to the practice of slinging wine, although I’m an imbiber of old,” he says mischievously. In IT strategy consulting in his past life, the dot.com bubble burst and he – like many of us who had been living high on the hog until the layoffs – suddenly had lots of time and lots of wine. While attending a sommelier conference, he met his future business partners and the seed that now flourishes as Nectar was born.

Anton is living proof that merely possessing a passion for good wine can take you very far indeed. “I studied modern European history in college, which was not of terribly much use as a career as it turns out, “he quips wryly. “Now I do all the wine-describing and design all of our marketing collateral….in between sips of course!”

Many experts and articles seek to warn us that in general, chocolate and wine do not a good pairing make. Anton says the sweet, fat and bitter components of various chocolate types have a tendency to wreak havoc on wine, especially reds, and can bring out some really odd flavors. If you throw sweet wine into the mix, though, things get a little easier and make for some lovely compliments. And Port can provide a wonderful groom to a chocolate bride.

For more than 25 years, The California Wine Club founders Bruce and Pam Boring have explored all corners of California’s wine country to find award-winning, handcrafted wine to share with the world. Each month, the club features a different small family winery and hand selects two of their best wines for members.