Category Archives: Chocolate Wine

Lord Rhys Chocolate Mead Recipe

I mentioned this one yesterday, when I was commenting on existing wine and mead recipes that used chocolate. Here it is in its entirety:

Chocolate Mead aka Liquid Sex Mead
Lord Rhys, Capten gen y Arian Lloer, Barony of Andelcrag, Midrealm

This recipe may be quoted, borrowed, copied, or stolen by anyone under three conditions.
1. As the originator of this recipe please offer me credit as such.
2. No money may change hands specifically for this recipe. Give it freely to any who ask in the spirit in which I give it to you.
3. It may be put into any SCA newsletter, SCA publication, or website, paid subscription or public domain only after due notification to the originator.


The originator of the recipe is not responsible for hordes of chocolate-crazed women attacking your encampment in search of chocolate mead, or Foreign Royalty sending knights to drag you into their court at Pennsic to demand bottles and recipes. All local women must now see my lady, Angelline la Petita, for a sample if you can talk her out of it. I am not allowed to carry around an open bottle anymore.

Basic Procedure

The basics of mead brewing should be mastered before performing any advanced projects. This recipe assumes a standard 5 gallon batch of mead using a 4 parts water to 1 part honey mixture (Must). – editor’s note: take a look at my Simple Mead Recipe for an introduction to mead making basics.

If you prefer your mead boiled, do so before adding any cocoa from this recipe as the foaming will remove the chocolate from the mix. Boiling is optional in mead and if you would like the pro’s and con’s, please ask. I personally boil nothing in mead making.

To your standard must, before adding the yeast, add 16 oz of Cocoa Powder (Nestles works great). Mix well before adding yeast. You will notice a lag in the start of the yeast; however this is common and due to the oils in cocoa. It will start bubbling madly in a few days, but never as much as normal mead.

Finishing and Aging


Cocoa contains a number of different very bitter oils that must be given time to break down. After the bubbling slows down put your fermenter/carboy away for one full year. Keeping the airlock on and checking the water level in it on occasion. Any other method of removing the oils will result in the loss of that little enzyme that the ladies are so fond of.

At the end of that year, rack the mead once to remove sediment and sweeten to approx. 1.030 on a hydrometer (semi-sweet) or to taste. I use Camden to kill the yeast at this point. Put the mead away for a second year. After the second year bottle normally. It will be clear, but very dark.

Some production notes: This mead leaves a very light aftertaste of chocolate that many people will not be able to identify readily. However the other effects of chocolate, i.e. orgasmic like pleasure is there. In the original test one of the samplers didn’t care for it, only one identified the flavor and tried to steal the bottle, and the other 28 thought it good with comments ranging from “very good” to “OH MY GOD!”. I make five gallons each year to share with friends, and that is all due to space from brewing. I used an apple flower honey, but any light honey should work. Just avoid heavy flavored honeys that might overpower the chocolate. In addition brew down only once, a heroic (high alcohol) mead would likewise overpower the delicate flavor.

Additional Note: The current batch now aged over two years has increased in chocolate flavor and smoothed very very very well. I no longer serve chocolate mead at less then two years of age. The Ladies of the Barony deserve nothing less then the best.

Final Note: If you let the mead age a third year some lovely Lady will force you to marry her in order to hoard the supply. My Lady Angelline has even received copies of this recipe in email, telling her she just has to try this out.

This mead is best served to the one you love ice cold, in candlelight, with a bowl of fresh strawberries for dipping. And privacy would be recommended.

Comments back to me are most welcome and maybe sent to

Chocolate Wine: A look at existing recipes

I discussed two possible styles of chocolate wine, in my most recent post on the subject, and did a little thinking out loud about how much chocolate I might use in each one. I’ve been searching for existing recipes, since then, to see how other people have approached it. There aren’t many, but I found a few mead recipes. There was pretty broad agreement on using between 3 and 4 oz of cocoa per gallon of must (22 – 30 g/L). This agrees with the 3 oz/gallon that I arrived at in my previous chocolate wine posting. One outlier, “Love Potion #9,” called for 8 oz/gallon (60 g/L) and 4-6 drops of vanilla extract. One recipe that kept coming up in my searches, it looks like a proven one that’s all over the internet, is Lord Rhys Chocolate Mead. This one calls for 3.2 oz/gallon (90 g/L) of cocoa and one part honey to four parts water.

An aspect I hadn’t considered: Chocolate as an aphrodisiac

I contacted the author of this famous chocolate mead, and he insisted on using cocoa over other forms of chocolate. We both came to the same conclusion about baking chocolate, that it was essentially cocoa plus cocoa butter. Since the cocoa butter is insoluble and doesn’t add anything, cocoa or extract make better choices. I had been leaning towards extract, but his explanation for preferring cocoa got me thinking,

Chocolate extract is basically the essence of the flavor extracted with alcohol, you get the flavor, but not the enzymes that make chocolate excite the endorphines.

I should mention that he subtitled his recipe “liquid sex,” and included warnings about attracting “hordes of chocolate-crazed women.” Well, my whole chocolate winemaking adventure began when I thought about making a wine for Valentine’s Day …

Chocolate extract: Less is more?

Larry Paterson, a Canadian winemaker who goes by the nickname “little fat wino,” has done some extensive work on chocolate in wine. He is just as convinced as Lord Rhys is about cocoa, that chocolate extract is the only way to go,

it manages well, doesn’t complicate issues by adding fat to the wine, filters cleanly, leaves a clean flavour and in my experience doesn’t cause any bad effects

Those are all excellent reasons, and he is very persuasive. No hordes of crazed women, though, so I’ll have to give this some thought.

Don’t miss future articles on chocolate wine

I think I have enough information to put together a recipe using cocoa, but I don’t have a good idea of how much extract to use. So as I continue this series, I’ll do some research on chocolate extract. Later, I’ll formulate some recipes with extract and cocoa. To make sure you don’t miss any of it, subscribe to this blog. It’s free and easy, and you’ll get every article without having to keep checking back.

Have you made chocolate wine or mead? Do you have ideas on how to make it? Let me know by leaving a comment!

Chocolate Wine: How to make it

How to use chocolate in wine

Should chocolate be the main ingredient in the wine? Put another way, should everything else in the wine be there just to make sure there is enough alcohol, sugar, and acid for the wine to be … well a wine? That’s how I made my oregano wine, and it looks promising. In that recipe I made an herb tea from my fresh oregano, added enough sugar for 12% alcohol, and fermented. Later I added acid to balance. If I took that approach with chocolate, I’d prepare a must with cocoa, extract or whatever form of chocolate I decided on, add sugar, ferment and add acid. I’m trying to imagine what that would be like, and I just can’t. That may be reason enough to try a “just chocolate” wine, but there is another way.

I could make another wine, that I think would take well to chocolate, and use chocolate as another ingredient or additive. It might be a bit like adding oak chips, and I’ll refer to this style as “chocolate flavored wine”. What sort of wines would work with this method? Since I’ve never done it before, I don’t know for sure, but raspberry, cherry, and blueberry come to mind. An ordinary, full bodied, red wine might be just the thing. I’ve heard of people using chocolate in mead, which would be a lot like using chocolate as the main ingredient in a wine, only less so.

There are a lot of possibilities, and I’ll probably try more than one. I can’t possibly try them all, though, so if you have any ideas, I’d love to hear them.

How much chocolate to use in wine

No matter how I make the wine, I’ll have to decide how much chocolate to use. There’s a lot of reference material on how much oak, tannin, acid, and so on to use in wine, but not so much on just the right amount of chocolate. To start with, I’ll use the phenolic content to put an upper limit on the amount. I don’t want to be trying to remove excess phenolics from my chocolate wine, so I’ll compare the amount in cocoa powder with the typical amount in red wine to get a maximum. Red wines will have up to 0.35% (3.5 g/L) phenolic content. As I mentioned in my post on chocolate, cocoa powder is about 8%, by weight, phenolic compounds. Putting these two figures together, and doing a little algebra, yields a figure of 43.75 g (a little over 1.5 oz and a little under 9 tablespoons) of cocoa powder in a liter. For a gallon of wine, then, we’d want no more than 165.6 g (5.8 oz).

There are some reasons that we might want less. The phenolics in chocolate won’t be the same as the phenolics in grapes, so it makes sense to back off from this maximum amount. The hot chocolate recipes I’ve seen are made with anywhere from 1 – 2 tablespoons of cocoa per cup (about 21-42 g/L). The lower value of 21 g/L, which works out to about 3 oz/gallon, should still yield plenty of flavor (it’s from the recipe in the Joy of Cooking) with less risk that the phenolics will be too harsh.

The subtle approach

This is a good starting point for a just chocolate wine, and maybe for a chocolate flavored wine. If we’re using chocolate like oak, then we should look at a more subtle approach too. After all, the flavor in hot chocolate might be good, but will it be good as a wine? Will it even be recognizable as wine? Maybe, but the rich flavor profile of chocolate might be useful in much smaller amounts to add complexity to wine. I’m imagining tasting such a wine and thinking, “I can’t put my finger on it, but I’ve never tasted Merlot like that before!” rather than, “Wow, chocolate!” When most people cook with chocolate or use it in flavored drinks, subtlety is not the goal. That makes it harder to know how much chocolate would add richness and complexity without overwhelming the wine. I think I’ll start with an arbitrary number, and cut the 21 g/L in half. Call it 10 g/L, which is about 1.3 oz or 7.5 tablespoons per gallon.

Now that I’m getting a better idea of how to make chocolate wine and how much chocolate to use, I’ll take a look at some existing recipes. There aren’t many, but I’m hoping to find enough for a reality check. To make sure you don’t miss it, subscribe to this blog. It’s free and easy, and you’ll get every article without having to keep checking back.

Know Your Ingredients: Chocolate

What do you need to know about chocolate to make wine with it? That’s what I want to focus on in this installment of my Know Your Ingredients series. So I’ll be skipping over most of the history of chocolate and the details of how its made, unless they help illustrate something about how chocolate might be used in winemaking.

Chocolate is available in different forms, like solid chocolate and cocoa, but they all have one thing in common: chocolate liquor. This is what cocoa beans become after modern processing gives them the flavor we’ve come to associate with chocolate. Add cocoa butter (fat from the cocoa bean) and you can make unsweetened solid chocolate. Add sugar to that, and you’ve got dark chocolate. Cut in some milk, or milk solids, and vanilla to get milk chocolate. I think it’s best to stay as close to chocolate liquor as possible and extract what we want from that to make our wine. I’m not saying that you should never add vanilla to you wine, just that we stay on topic. And when was the last time you felt your wine was really good, but it just needed a little milk?

Unsweetened dark chocolate or cocoa powder?

So, we might want to use unsweetened dark chocolate. We should also consider cocoa powder, which is chocolate liquor with much of the cocoa butter removed. The choice between the two probably comes down to how easy they are to work with and what we think of cocoa butter. Let’s take cocoa butter first. It’s the fat of the cocoa bean and it contributes the texture that we all love about chocolate bars. It doesn’t contribute any chocolate flavor though, so I don’t think the extra cocoa butter in solid chocolate does us any good in making wine. What would working with dark chocolate be like and how would that compare to working with cocoa? I find cocoa pretty hard to dissolve, and that’s how I’d want to incorporate it into wine. Dissolving dark chocolate would take some work too, though. It might be enough to break the dark chocolate into small pieces and add them to the fermented or fermenting wine, like oak chips. Done that way, dark chocolate might be easier to work with, but cocoa has less of the cocoa butter that we don’t want and all of the things that give chocolate it’s rich flavor.

Raw unprocessed chocolate sounds perfect, doesn’t it? But unless you’ve got a thing for bland and bitter, it really isn’t. The fermenting, drying, roasting, and grinding that is modern processing gives chocolate it’s rich flavors and aromas.Both are worth a try, but extract might be best
I haven’t mentioned chocolate extract yet, because its the form of chocolate that I know the least about. What I do know is that its got two things going for it: first, it has no cocoa butter at all. Second, it dissolves readily into most liquids. Those are two big advantages that set it apart from unsweetened dark chocolate and cocoa powder, but is there a catch? There might be and it revolves around the question of what exactly chocolate extract is extracted from. Some of my reading indicates that it is derived from dry fermented cocoa beans (which is how growers deliver cocoa to manufacturers) or even raw, unfermented cocoa beans. The label on my bottle of Star Kay White brand of chocolate extract is reassuring and says its made from “fresh roasted cocoa beans.” I take that to mean that the cocoa beans are fully processed, though possibly not yet finely ground into chocolate liquor. What I’m looking for is something as close to chocolate liquor as possible, without the cocoa butter, and while we’re at it, in a form that’s easily dissolved. This just might be it.


Phenols are important components in wine that are responsible for color, bitterness, and astringency. They contribute some flavor and aroma and provide antioxidant activity. Even so, they are a tiny (0.05% – 0.35%) part of a wine’s makeup. Phenolic compounds are a bigger part of chocolate – 6% of chocolate liquor. Cocoa powder, because it is made by expelling much of the cocoa butter from chocolate liquor, has an even higher concentration – about 8%. Solid chocolate would have less than 6% because its made by adding cocoa butter and sugar to chocolate liquor. It’ll be important to keep the phenolic content in mind when deciding how much chocolate to use in the wine.

For some perspective, I’ll do a back of the envelope calculation of the phenolics in hot chocolate. The recipe on my can of Hershey’s Cocoa calls for two tablespoons of cocoa powder (10 g) in one cup (240 ml) of milk. Cocoa powder is 8% phenols by weight, and 8% of 10g is 0.8g. So we have a concentration of 0.8g/240ml, which is 3.33 g/L or 0.333% – what you might get from a tannic red wine. That’s why the recipe also calls for two tablespoons (about 25 g) sugar. That’s more than 10% residual sugar!

Stick around, we’re just getting started!

I’m going to put this information to use and start thinking about how to make a wine with chocolate. That’ll be the subject of my next article on chocolate wine. To make sure you don’t miss it, subscribe to this blog. Its the free and easy way to get each article as it’s published without having to check back all the time.

If you noticed something in the article that didn’t seem quite right, well maybe it wasn’t! Nobody’s perfect, and if I made a mistake in one of my calculations please let me know by leaving a comment. I’m planning to make this wine, and I want it to be a winner.

Valentine’s Day Wine: Making your own

A wine to match the occasion

A couple of weeks ago, I passed along some great advice about pairing wine and chocolate for Valentine’s Day. That got me thinking about making a wine for the Day of Romance. What should the wine be like? At first, I thought it should pair with chocolate, like those earlier recommendations. Then I thought, I’ll make it with chocolate! I’ve heard of chocolate being used in making wine and mead (even beer), and I’ve always been curious about it.

It’ll take some doing, but it’ll be fun

This is the first in a series of articles on making wine with chocolate. I have a lot of questions, like should I try to make a plain chocolate wine the way I made Oregano Wine? Should I use a more traditional base that goes with chocolate, like raspberry or cherry, and incorporate chocolate into the wine? What form of chocolate should I use (solid, cocoa, syrup, extract)? As I find answers, and more questions, I’ll update this series with new articles. Ultimately, and hopefully in time for next Valentine’s Day, I’ll fashion a recipe and make chocolate wine!

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