Orange-Chocolate Port

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Some years back I gave Lesley Lunt and Martin Benke a bottle of my Orange-Chocolate Port. At a recent meeting of the San Antonio Regional Wine Guild at their party house on Lake Corpus Christi, following a fantastic meal of battered shrimp, oysters and white bass with at least a dozen and a half side dishes and desserts, Martin broke out that 5-year old gift and we sat back, stuffed and satiated, and enjoyed it immensely. Having just received another supply of dark Dutched cocoa, I decided to make some more.

Originally, I did not use Dutched cocoa in this port. Even after 5 years, you can still taste a very slight bitterness from the Hershey’s unsweetened natural cocoa. As I said last week, that is one of the detractors of the natural cocoa powders. The Dutch-processed cocoas do not have this bitterness and that is why I will be using it in my new batch. Still, I have to admit, the 5-year old port was pretty darned good. You could definitely taste the orange immediately, while the chocolate caught up with you in the finish and persisted for quite some time. In a word, it was “delicious”.

I will share with you the recipe, but you will have to calculate the amount of brandy to add at the end. It is not difficult, and I will even provide you a calculator to assist, but you must keep good records so you can enter the correct numbers in the calculator.

  • 2 cans frozen orange juice concentrate, no pulp
  • 2 pounds sugar
  • 4 dry ounces (by weight) unsweetened Dutched cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon citric acid (or acid blend)
  • 1/4 level teaspoon powdered grape tannin
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons yeast nutrient
  • 1 tablespoon orange extract
  • water to raise volume to one gallon
  • Montrachet, Champagne or any wine yeast with a 12-15% alcohol by volume range
  • Napoleon (or any other) brandy (you must calculate the volume needed)

Thaw orange concentrate and pour into a primary with a 1-gallon mark. If you don’t have one, before you start add a gallon of water to your primary and mark the waterline with indelible ink, paint or fingernail polish. Add sugar, acid, tannin powder, yeast nutrient, and 2 quarts warm-to-hot water. Stir until sugar is dissolved and top up to 1-gallon mark. At this point, use a hydrometer to measure your specific gravity and WRITE IT DOWN! Allow to cool to 95 degrees or cooler and place 2 cups of must in a blender. Turn blender on to slowest speed and add cocoa powder 1 tablespoon at a time. When all 4 ounces are well blended, stir into primary. Pitch activated dry yeast and cover the primary with a clean towel, muslin or plastic wrap. Stir 2-4 times daily until vigorous fermentation subsides (usually in 5 to 10 days).

Rack or transfer to 4-liter secondary (1-gallon secondary if you do not have a 4-liter one), top up only to the bottom of the neck of the secondary and attach an airlock. During next day or two cocoa powder will rise with air bubbles to neck of secondary. Use a small spoon, butter knife or other instrument to remove as much as you can. Repeat as required (usually only once is sufficient).

In 3 weeks, prepare a Bentonite slurry according to the manufacturer’s instructions; this usually takes several hours. When slurry is completely liquefied and cool, rack wine into clean secondary, shake or stir Bentonite slurry to agitate, and add about 2 tablespoons to wine. Stir wine well, attach airlock, and stir again every 6-8 hours for 2 days. Let rest until wine clears and then wait 2 more days. Rack, top up and reattach airlock. In 60 days, rack again, measure the specific gravity and WRITE IT DOWN! Add one tablespoon of orange extract (not a drop more!). Based on starting specific gravity and finished specific gravity, calculate alcohol content (see first link immediately following this recipe). Now calculate how much brandy you will need to add to bring wine up to 20% alcohol (see second link immediately following this recipe). Add brandy (you may have to move wine to a larger container to accommodate the addition of the brandy). Stir and bottle immediately. Wait at least 6 months before tasting. [Jack Keller’s own recipe]

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