Pairing chocolate with red wine can be tricky. It’s a good idea to keep a bottle of port around, for after-dinner sipping with chocolate, but  sometimes  it’s more fun  to finish up that open bottle of  zinfandel or syrah.

 Lise Ciolino, owner and winemaker  of Montemaggiore Winery in Healdsburg, came up with this chocolate cookie that builds a natural, flavor bridge to a peppery red wine like syrah.

 Try this for your next dinner party, and see if your guests can guess the mystery spices:

Chocolate Pepper Cookies

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

¾ teaspoon fresh, finely ground pepper

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

1½ cups unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder

¼ teaspoon salt

1½ cups butter softened

1¾ cups granulated sugar

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Sift together the flour, spices, cocoa and salt. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Add the dry ingredients to the butter and sugar mixture, mixing it well. Shape dough into a flat rectangle and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Working with a quarter of the dough at the time (leaving the rest in the refrigerator), roll very thin between two sheets of plastic wrap. In order to roll this dough out uniformly thin, put two long bamboo skewers on either side of the dough and roll the dough between them. Cut into the shapes you want. Transfer to baking sheets lined with baking parchment or silicone mats. Minimize re-rolling the dough.

Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until crisp. Transfer to racks to cool.