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Chocolate: Taste, Learn, Love

Gourmet food shop Domasoteca, in Rosslyn's Hotel Palomar, pairs chocolates with wine at its tastings. The next free event is scheduled for March 15.
Gourmet food shop Domasoteca, in Rosslyn's Hotel Palomar, pairs chocolates with wine at its tastings. The next free event is scheduled for March 15. (By Juana Arias For The Washington Post)
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Best for: Anyone who wants to discover little-known chocolatiers and explore the subtle differences in chocolates of varying cocoa percentages.

What you might taste: Malagasy's Mora Mora 73 percent cocoa bar ($8), a creamy dark chocolate with red fruit notes.

Next up: In conjunction with the Embassy of Madagascar, the store March 4-8 will host a string of seminars and tastings on chocolate from the African nation ($20 per person; reservations required).

The Curious Grape

4056 S. Campbell Ave., Arlington, 703-671-8700, http://www.curiousgrape.com

Types of tastings: Though most of its shelves stock wine, the store hosts free casual chocolate tastings along with seminars, which are free but require reservations. The seminars usually feature four to eight chocolates paired with wines.

What to expect: The most popular seminar, World of Chocolate, describes the history of chocolate, including its use as currency. The store's samplings begin with cocoa nibs and include white chocolate, milk chocolate, untempered and dark chocolate, and a flavored bar. "We like to have people taste the same percent to compare and contrast the different flavors," says Katie Park, the specialty food and gift manager. "When tasting, you must look for flavors like fruit with berry, red fruit and citrus characters, [and] earth, which gives you leather, sandalwood and smoke or the spiciness."

Best for: Wine lovers and those intrigued by the early uses of chocolate.

What you might taste: Vosges Barcelona Bar ($6.49), milk chocolate studded with salty almonds and fleur de sel.

Next up: On Wednesday, the store will showcase such French chocolates as Chocolat Bonnat, Valrhona and Bernard Castelain paired with champagne, white Bordeaux and a blend from Corbieres (free). On Feb. 28, brands including Recchiuti Confections, Dagoba and Scharffen Berger will be featured in a free seminar sampling of U.S. chocolates paired with such wines as a California sparkling rosé, a Washington merlot and a California pinot noir.

Domasoteca

1121 19th St. N., Arlington, 703-894-5104

Types of tastings: Domasoteca opened last month in Rosslyn's Hotel Palomar. The Italian-centric store, which stocks fresh bread, gourmet cheese and wine, also offers chocolate tastings with wine. The tastings are free, but you must call to reserve a spot.

What to expect: The store carries Italian brands Amedei and Domori, as well as France's Michel Cluizel. "We are very proud of our chocolate collection," says wine director Christianna Sargent. "Like the store's wines, we follow the terroir of chocolate."

What you might taste: Domori's Sambirano 100% ($9.50), the darkest of dark chocolate with a mouth-filling tartness.

Best for: Italophiles and anyone curious about the country's chocolate.

Next up: On March 15, the store will host a tasting class of three bars with 64 percent cocoa. The free event (reservations required) will focus on terroir, comparing flavors of Venezuela, Trinidad and Madagascar. The chocolates will be sampled with sparkling and red wines and port.


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