#WedNightWineSchool Chocolate & Wine pairing March 2018
By debzbinden, Apr 3 2018 09:10PM
With so much contrasting advise on whether Chocolate and Wine can be matched harmoniously or not, #WedNightWineSchool's Chocolate & Pairing workshop evening took a practical look at some of the thinking behind pairing these two areas of indulgence with a contrasting range of styles.
MIRABEAU LA FOLIE SPARKLING £12.99 Waitrose
Sparkling wines can be the perfect foil for various styles of chocolate and may warrant their own session one day. With space for just one, Mirabeau’s newish sparkling is made from similar blends of grapes to their still rosés (Syrah, Grenache) but in a slightly more frivolous mood. La Folie is slightly sweet, bright, fruity and was just the ice-breaker to ease us into the hard graft awaiting. An Italian Moscato d’Asti or even Prosecco would do a similar job.
We tasted this with Green & Blacks White Chocolate with Vanilla. The wine’s berry flavours worked well with the softer, milky flavours in the chocolate (strawberries and cream anyone?) and the fresh acidity in the wine made sure nothing became too “cloying” or sicky sweet.
Ssshhhh…. we also tried this with Maltesers as a chocolately appetiser, to an overwhelmingly positive response!
DR LOOSEN Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Kabinett £15.99 Waitrose
Correctly identified by some keen tasters as Riesling, wine no. 2 was tasted blind, partly as an fun exercise to demonstrate that with a few prompts blind tasting isn't a total dark art (and partly to eliminate the risk of tasting the label instead of the wine.)
Light in body but big on flavour intensity, our medium sweetness Kabinett was more fruity than floral with a racy, mineral bite. Crisp acidity made the unexpected pairing with milk chocolate truffles a winner, with the rich flavours being enhanced with a touch of honey and spice in the wine.
VASSE FELIX FILIUS Margaret River Chardonnay 2016 £12.99 Majestic, Waitrose
With ripe tropical characters giving the impression of some fruit sweetness this Margaret River gem was surprisingly versatile.
The white chocolate came out again and here the vanilla flavours in both (from the partial oak fermentation for the Chardonnay) gave a decadently smooth outcome.
ERRAZURIZ Coastal Series Pinot Noir £9.99, Chile, Waitrose
Demonstrating the fantastic value for money Chile can offer for Pinot Noir, the silkiness of our medium-bodied juicy number was a surprisingly easy match for a variety of the chocolate variants, especially for anyone worried about a dry red’s ability to go up against chocolate with any sweetness.
We tried it with the Brix “Smooth Dark Chocolate”, which at 54% Cocoa solids has a varied list of suggested wine matches (including Pinot Noir). A slightly bittersweet pairing with the cherry, mint aromatics of the wine making an easy friendship with the chocolate’s smooth depth.
RAVENSWOOD Sonoma Zinfandel 2013 £14.99
Working on the basis of the higher the percentage of cocoa the more oomph the wine can get away with, we stepped it up a gear. With the blueberries, spice and concentrated almost raisiny flavours that a full-bodied Zinfandel brings we had a rather brooding match with Divine’s 85% Cocoa Exquisitely Rich Dark Chocolate.
To see just how far we could push things we also flirted with a few crumbs of Montezuma’s 100% Cocoa Absolute Black Chocolate which was step too far for most of the tasters, but helped to demonstrate the "overwhelm" factor when things are out of sync.
OFFLEY ROSE PORT £11.99 Waitrose
From this point on it was all about balance and harmony as Port can be a hugely versatile match for a variety of chocolatey treats. Ruby and Late Bottled Vintage (LBV) are fabulously indulgent with sweeter, milkier styles, whereas for nuttier flavours (hazelnut, almonds, pralines) Tawny styles will reflect and complement these.
By wine No. 5 palate-stamina needed to be considered. Something fresh and lifted was required so we went with a Rosé style which was a first for most of the room. Bright berry aromas and spice from the Port were a heady match for the Lindt Milk Chocolate with Salted Caramel.
BODEGAS HIDALGO Triana Pedro Ximenez £16.99 Majestic, Tanners
To finish we took sweetness to the extreme, using the pairing experiment as a flimsy excuse to shoehorn in a generously rich Pedro Ximenez Sherry.
The syrupy notes of toffee, mocha and figs were a chance to revisit all of the above chocolate options and the preferences as a potential pairing with this guilty pleasure were pleasingly spread across the group.
With a varied range of wines and chocolate styles we explored some of the extremes of taste sensation, showing it can be well worth spending a little bit of time thinking about what will bring out the best of both partners for some truly delicious matches. All in good time ahead of pairing those Easter eggs...
Next time: After all of Easter's indulgence, April's #WedNightWineSchool will be completely different. Our "Bordeaux Basics" event on Wed 25th April will cover some key background to the home of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc, focussing on the surprising affordability of wine from this classic winemaking region.
Until, then, happy tasting!