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Sweet Talk: Top Chocolate Picks from Your Favourite Wine Pros

We did a quick round-up of some of our favourite people and their chocolate-y preferences, as we prepare for St. Valentine’s Day. Chocolate and love have been coupled for centuries. Chocolate is a well-known stimulant containing compounds that have a profound effect on brain chemistry and contribute the same feelings and sensations that accompany courtship and love. Sounds sweet to us!

Michael Bartier - winemaker, hockey fanatic and chocolate lover - is the winemaker at his micro winery, Bartier Bros. Before tripping over wine, Mike was an recreation administration guy, where ultra running, mountain biking, road racing and other zealous, high-adrenaline pursuits filled his days. He gets the same buzz from chocolate, and loves wife Jodi’s chocolate pudding concoction that includes cocoa, coffee, cinnamon, maple syrup and apple cider vinegar. It’s not too sweet, which makes it a good pairing for fruity Okanagan Merlot - like Bartier Bros. Merlot 2014, for example. Mike also loves Skor bars, which he ate frozen while waterfall ice climbing! He admits a favourite indulgence is Purdys Hedgehogs.


Follow Mike on Twitter @surleevintner and @bartierbros.

Winemaker Matt Dumayne of Okanagan Crush Pad isn’t a huge chocolate fan due to a lack of sweet tooth. He says he can be tempted by a glass of Narrative Fortified Small Batch, paired with a Fruit & Nut bar, as the lack of tawny and oxidative characters goes nicely with the milk chocolate. He also enjoys venison with chocolate jus, paired with a heavy Pinot Noir. As for a certain peanut butter cup? “[I’m] pretty sure this North American combination of peanut butter and chocolate was invented by Satan himself,” says the New Zealand native.


Follow Matt on Twitter @OKCrushPad.

Sid Cross is a famous Vancouver man-about-town. One of the most respected and admired taster, collector, noted educator and judge. Sid’s palate is legendary. He’s the honourary president of the International Food and Wine Society headquartered in London, England, the only Canadian to be inducted as an honourable member of the L’Academie du Vin de Bordeaux, and has been recognized by the French government for his contribution to food and wine.  He’s also been a chocolate aficionado for many decades, and is a popular judge for the International Chocolate Awards. Like wine tasting, chocolate judging assess aroma, flavour, texture plus melt factors. The palate is cleansed not with bread or water, but a soupy polenta! Sid enjoys dark chocolate daily, finding milk chocolate a touch too sweet - and admires the combination of dark chocolate with some Yuzu in it. Try Purdys Chocolatier’s take on this exotic match.

Follow Sid on Twitter @winefoodguru and his blog postings on

Vancouver wine pro Shane Taylor was recently crowned Best Sommelier of British Columbia, and you should visit CinCin to see why. Shane pours heart and soul into his wine list and tableside pairings, and always with great charm and no pretension. In his own words about chocolate, Shane says “I love it unabashedly! The darker the better. I have recently discovered a sweet tooth I never knew I had, shame on you CinCin Pastry Chef!”. As for wine and chocolate pairings, he warns that chocolate can overpower even the most robust of wines. At CinCin he’s been known to pair chocolate with Barolo Chinato, an interesting concoction made from Nebbiolo wine with quinine, sugar, and various other herbs and spices. It has enough sweetness, flavour and bitterness to pair with the darkest of chocolates. To try the Nebbiolo grape in a classic wine of the Piedmonte region (which by the way produces a lot of chocolate), we have a true value Barolo available.


Follow Shane on Twitter @cincinvan.

Dave Patterson is the winemaker and general manager of Tantalus Vineyards, famed for Riesling, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wines. He’s admitted to being a sucker for salted chocolate, and also likes to pair rich red wines with robust braised dishes that use dark chocolate to finish the sauce. He keeps wine and chocolate in a sweet spot - like chocolate and his tiny production Riesling Icewine. If you have not yet tried any of Tantalus’s wines, you are in for a treat.


Follow Dave on Twitter @tantaluswine.

Park Heffelfinger is co-founder of the fabulously successful Memphis Blues BBQ House, as well as a long time wine educator in B.C. Beloved for his wit, palate and pulled pork, he also loves dark chocolate - something around 75% cacao, and single estate. The right wines for him are frizzante Moscato from Italy (try the Michele Chiarlo Moscato d’Asti Nivole at the New District Dunbar Wine Shop for a brilliant bottle), or a classic sweet and fortified wine from the South of France called Banyuls (coming soon to Watch this site for Memphis Blue’s famous cornbread recipe, and consider getting some of their must-have rub and barbeque sauce here.

Follow Park on Twitter @MemphisBBQHQ.

At we love chocolate too, especially if it comes packaged with wine. Valentine’s Day is almost here - are you ready? Both of our Valentine’s Duets are available online as well as at our Dunbar store - the New District Dunbar Wine Shop.

Love is SWEET!

New District

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