Pairing Pisco with chocolate? You bet!

A good times gal like me would be remiss without mentioning the Pisco and chocolate tasting we experienced at Xocolatl during our chocolate travels in Lima.

I had always thought a deep dark chocolate went best when paired with a big red wine like Malbec. But I’m now learning that there are many other libations that pair very nicely with chocolate, and chocolatier Giovanna Maggiolo wanted to be sure we understood that the Peruvian brandy was no exception.

Pisco-tasting- at-Xocolatl-in-Lima

Pisco tasting with sommelier Lucero Villagarcia at Xocolatl

Learning from a Pisco Sommelier

She invited Pisco sommelier Lucero Villagarcia to teach us about the clear, distilled liquor made from the bitter Pisco grapes grown between Lima and Tacna along the beautiful Peruvian coast. The grapes come in both white or red, and it takes seven kilos of grapes to make one bottle of Pisco. No wonder it’s relatively expensive to buy at about $40 a bottle. This site shows the different varieties you can buy.

Eight different varietals of grapes produce different varieties of Pisco, basically divided into aromatic and non-aromatic with all sorts of exotic flavour enhancements to entice you.

The non-aromatic Quebranta variety offers hints of apples and raisins. The Mollar variety features hints of apples, herbs, citrus and pecans. The aromatic Italia variety is fruity, with floral flavours and hints of lemongrass and roses and is my personal favourite. And the Muscatel variety  offers hints of peach, pineapple and plum.

Any of these can be blended with the Pisco grape to make one of the four major types of Pisco as designated by the regulatory board:

  • PURO Pisco is made from only one varietal of grape (pure, single origin).
  • AROMATICAS is an aromatic Pisco primarily made from Muscat-derived grapes and is unique to Peru.
  • ACHOLADO Picso is a blend of two or more grapes and generally used in Pisco Sour cocktails.
  • MOSTO VERDE Pisco is made from unfermented wine and results in a smoother, sweeter and less intense liquor bearing the most expensive price tag of the four types.

Pairing chocolate with Pisco

To taste Pisco, first inhale the aroma. Then take a tiny bit to your lips and slowly swallow. You will feel it warm your throat. It’s actually quite pleasant when taking the Pisco slowly, and pairing it with delectable chocolates. Xocolatl’s 55% dark chocolate classic truffle was the perfect pairing with the Italia variety of Pisco that I liked best.
tasting-Pisco

my lovely tasting companion, Virginia, smiling after the fourth or fifth shot of Pisco!

We also tried the Malamado Malbec from Argentina, which is a heavier port-like wine that paired very nicely with a dark chocolate truffle made with cardamom, ginger and star anise. Just talking about this wonderful blend of flavours makes me wish I was back in Lima this week for the International Cacao and Chocolate Salon, an international chocolate show still in its infancy.
I’ve run out of the delicious chocolate-Pisco liquor, so I  guess I’ll just have to make myself a Pisco Sour. This post talks about where I’ve had my best Pisco Sour to date.
Join me in making one of these delicious drinks at home. For 2 cocktails, you’ll need the following ingredients. Blend and enjoy!
  • 1 cup pisco
  • 4 cups ice
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg white
  • aromatic bitters to flavour
Have you tried Pisco? Did you like it? It not, perhaps you unknowingly tried a variety that was not best suited to your palate. The Lima International Airport even has a Pisco Shop where you can purchase your favourite variety of Pisco at a duty free saving. And Xocolatl sells a wonderful libation of Pisco blended with drinking chocolate that is totally decadent and available in bottles to keep you happy for quite awhile.
Xocolatl-Pisco-chocolate-drink

You’ll find Xocolatl’s Pisco-chocolate beverage on the top shelf in Giovanna’s Lima shop

Doreen Pendgracs

Known throughout the Web as the "Wizard of Words", I've been a freelance writer since 1993. I'm currently researching and writing volume II of "Chocolatour: A Quest for the World's Best Chocolate". Volume I was published in September, 2013.

22 Responses

  1. Bidhurani says:

    Wine and Chocolate…Great Doreen. Nice pictures too. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Doreen says:

    Thanks for dropping into the blog, Bidhurani. Pisco is actually a brandy (more than a fortified wine) so it’s got quite the punch and has more than 40% alcohol by volume. A little goes a long way. Just like with good quality chocolate …. you only need a small piece to enjoy the flavour!

  3. That WAS a fun day. Perhaps because of the relatively high alcohol content, the Pisco gives the chocolate more of a melt-in-the-mouth feel than red wine does. And it’s a cleaner fusion.

    Roger and I hope to be reliving the Pisco Sour experience at the Peruvian ‘Pop Up” a few blocks from us on Friday. Thanks for sending the details and wish you could join us (just use up those air miles and come to TO for the weekend!).

  4. Doreen says:

    That would indeed be lovely! But I’m afraid I’d best get down to writing the book. So many marvellous opportunities keep arising and as you know, dear Virginia … I am easily diverted!

    Thanks again for dropping into the blog, and for being a most enjoyable tasting companion.

  5. Just reading about the wine and chocolate makes my mouth water. Great way to make a living!
    Jeannette Paladino recently posted…Update on Social Media Certification — the Pros and ConsMy Profile

    • Doreen says:

      Thanks for dropping into the blog, Jeannette.

      Yes, it’s a dirty job, but somebody has to do it! All kidding aside, I love what I do and feel most fortunate to be doing it. The real reward will come when my book comes out to positive reviews. It’s been a long time coming!

  6. It sounds like you’re having fun. I’ve never had wine with chocolate but it sounds like a good combo. I’ll have to try it. Thanks for sharing!

  7. satinka says:

    Mmmm…brandy and peruvian chocolate… Food love! 🙂

  8. My husband and I looove experiencing a new country through its desserts and liquors. Pisco Sour really did grow on me, even in the traditional mix of a floating egg white. When in Rome!! But Pisco with ginger ale is the best 🙂

    • Doreen says:

      Right on, Melissa! For me, experiencing the best of the local cuisine is a must, as well as visiting farmers’ markets to see what’s grown locally and how it all looks in its raw, unadulterated form.

      And of course … the local drink specialties! Next time you have a chance, try the Pisco neat (straight up.) You just might find you like it!

  9. Susan Cooper says:

    I have not tried Pisco. I will be putting this on my list to do as soon as I return from my trip in France. You know me, anything that goes with chocolate always has me hooked. Thanks for writing about this and I love your pictures too. :)))
    Susan Cooper recently posted…Lesson From My Roses: by Cheryl TherrienMy Profile

  10. Doreen says:

    Hi, Susan. Be sure to look for an aromatic type. As mentioned, I prefer the Italia variety of Pisco with its fruity/floral undertones. Maybe it’s the lemongrass that cinched it for me. Kind of like a fine brandy. Good for sipping and contemplation.

    Have a tremendous trip to FLA. If you’re anywhere near Naples or Fort Meyers, be sure to check out the Black Collection by Norman Love. AMAZING! More on that at im-in-love-with-norman-love-chocolates/. Cheers!

  11. Elondra says:

    I haven’t tried Pisco as well as wine and chocolate combination. If it’s chocolate, whatever comes with it is a winner! Ha ha! Would love to try it some other time. 🙂
    Elondra recently posted…colorful kids bedroom furniture designsMy Profile

  12. Adeline says:

    Very interesting post, Doreen. I haven’t gotten the chance to try Pisco yet, but I’ll definitely keep your tips on how to drink it when I get the chance. Thanks so much for sharing this.
    Adeline recently posted…5 Reasons to Visit BoracayMy Profile

  13. Doreen says:

    Thanks, Adeline. Nice to see you here again on the blog.

    It’s fascinating trying different food and drinks around the world. I haven’t yet been to the Philippines, but I certainly enjoyed some Filipino food as a good friend of our was married to a lovely Filipino lady. (They’ve both since passed on.)

    I hear there’s some good chocolate there, too! If you know a good chocolate maker there, maybe you can connect us so that he/she can send me some! Thanks!

  14. JoBeth McDaniel says:

    Have enjoyed reading all your Peru blog posts, and many of the others, too! Sounds like a great trip — I won’t be in Lima long, but I will definitely check out the restaurants you reviewed. And I am writing down the chocolate and Pisco brands, too — thanks so much!

    • Doreen says:

      You’re welcome, JoBeth. Thanks for dropping into the blog.

      I hope you enjoy Peru. It certainly left its mark on me. (And I’m not just talking about the bug bites you see in this post: be-prepared-for-international-travel/. I hope you find the advice helpful!)

  15. Jacqueline Rosales says:

    Hi,

    I am currently looking for advertising partnerships on sites like yours diversionswithdoreen.com. I believe you will be interested in the offer we have as we have many happy publishers and it is a great way to earn recurring income for your site.

    Please email me back expressing your interest in this offer and I will send you through further emails.

    I look forward to hearing back from you soon,

    Jacqueline Rosales

    • Doreen says:

      Thanks for your interest in my blog, Jacqueline. It is my intent to keep advertisers on this blog to the categories of anything travel related and anyone within the chocolate industry. I will carry forward this discussion with you via e-mail.

  16. Hi there Doreen! Somehow surfing around on internet ended me up on the blog, recognizing Lucero who we joined on a Pisco Promotion Tour in Europe. I myself am an importer of High Quality Pisco into the Netherlands and Europe.

    What I would like to share is the following: One of our brands has started the production of a combination of 2 things you might like: Pisco & Chocolate as a drink. It is called Piscolatte and is being produced by Pisco El Alambique – they have not yet started any marketing around it. It is truely amazing! Pure chocolate in Pisco – with of course (condensed) milk added to be drinkable.

    Something that you should try out someday – if there is any good way to get it to Canada. I got a recent photo (this week) here of the El Alambique collection I have, with the Piscolatte on it too:
    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=469404953119984&set=pb.107107259349757.-2207520000.1360765538&type=3&theater

    For any info further (also on how way less than $40 – say $25 and less will get you a amazing Pisco as well) please e-mail me!! I will be surely reading more on your blog! Cheers, JJ

    • Doreen says:

      Thanks for your comment, Jan, and for finding my blog!

      Giovanna Maggiolo who runs the Xocolatl shop in Lima does sell a bottled drink of chocolate and Pisco. I bought a bottle and LOVED it! I mention it in the last paragraph of my post, and include the link to her site.

      Would definitely be interested in trying your brand if you can somehow get a bottle to me here in Canada.

      Thanks again for stopping by and joining the conversation.
      Doreen recently posted…Chocolatouring: enjoying the chocolate tours at Hotel Chocolat BoucanMy Profile

  1. January 3, 2013

    […] brandy) is popular, and the chocolate is dark, acidic, and fruity, you might want to check out this post where I explain the intricacies of pairing specific Pisco varietals with certain flavours of […]

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