Hot chocolate is the perfect afternoon pick-me-up or evening indulgence, and it is highly adaptable to suit whatever taste you’re craving. A quick online search brings up peppermint, pumpkin, salted caramel, white, exotic spiced, red wine, unicorn, gingerbread, coconut hot chocolate…the list goes on. If it tastes good with chocolate, then you can make it in drink form.

Combine several of these key words—wine, spiced, hazelnut—and you’ll eventually be guided to just one conclusion: Port wine hot chocolate. With Tawny and Ruby Port on hand and leftover snow drifts from a recent blizzard sitting in piles outside my window, I got to work.

If you’re like me, you have a tried-and-true hot cocoa formula and the below can be adapted to your favorite recipe. It’s simple: just top it off with Port wine using the suggested ratio of 3:1, adjusting to taste. Mix well and enjoy.

The recipe I use is relatively light—low in sugar, and thickened not with heavy whipping cream and melted chocolate, but with a dash of cornstarch—and it can be made with Ruby or Tawny Port. Ruby Port will give your hot chocolate a delicious, round fruitiness; if you enjoy chocolate cake with raspberry preserves, this one is for you. Tawny Port imparts a spicy nuttiness; if you love chocolate turtles, go for this.

Hot Chocolate with Ruby or Tawny Port Wine

Servings: 1 cup of hot chocolate


  • ¾ cup whole milk
  • 2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 rounded teaspoon sugar, or to taste
  • Dash of vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • ¼ cup Port Wine: Ruby such as Fonseca Bin 27, or Tawny such as Croft Fine Tawny Port


  1. Pour milk into a small saucepan and heat over medium. Add cocoa powder, sugar, vanilla extract, and cornstarch and whisk well until fully mixed. Continue to whisk as the milk heats until small bubbles form; do not boil the milk. As it heats, it will begin to thicken. Heat longer for thicker hot chocolate (4-5 minutes).
  2. Once the hot chocolate is at your desired consistency, add the Port wine and remove from heat. Pour in a mug and enjoy! Top it off with more Port to taste, mixing well.
Hot chocolate. Photo by Viacheslav Bublyk, Unsplash
Hot chocolate. Photo by Viacheslav Bublyk, Unsplash

Diana studied Anthropology at Penn State and Food Culture & Communications at the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Italy. After living la bella vita in Italy for six years, she returned to the U.S. and landed in NYC. She has been working in wine since 2012 and holds WSET 2. Loves Nebbiolo and amaro. Talk to her about Italy.

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