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Tag Archives: chocolate and wine

  • When wine meets chocolate

    "Its a tough job, but someones got to do it" is the phrase that sprung to mind when I set off on a quest to find out whether wine and chocolate could live together. Easter is looming and that means chocolate, and lots of it, so it seemed the right time to put this to the test.

    Can the two co-exist? I'm delighted to say that the answer is yes, but choose with care. Just like wine there is great chocolate, but there is pretty horrible, gloopy muck, full of greasy cocoa butter, and not much else too - if that's what rocks your boat, I'd stick with a cup of tea to accompany it.

    There is a world of exciting, artisan-crafted chocolate out there - from all over the world. I recently co-hosted a wine and chocolate pairing evening, with Spencer Hyman, who is as passionate about chocolate as I am about wine, and has set up an online subscription business for true choc lovers called Cocoa Runners. He and his team whizz around the world sniffing out the best bean producers and also the best chocolate-makers; his range is vast, encompassing chocolate bars from Brooklyn to Budapest, Cleethorpes to Saigon.

    For wine, it's all about the grape, the soil, and how you make it; with chocolate it's pretty much the same, which is why Great Western Wine have teamed up with Cocoa Runners to stock a wide range of chocolates, matched with specific wines. The chocolate range is broad, ranging from the darkest, most intense and highest cocoa content bars, to fudgy, creamy and unctuous milk varieties.

    So what works? The old adage is that you need to drink something sweeter than the chocolate itself - easily done, but a bit predictable. After an exhaustive and extensive afternoon of wine and chocolate-matching (I did say it was a tough job), here are my recommendations for you to enjoy the ultimate in indulgences - and yes, red wine can work with chocolate, and does so rather nicely, if you pick the right one. So throw your preconceptions aside and try a few of these with your Easter chocolate fest...

    Dark Chocolate

    This has over 70% cocoa solids, with depth and intensity, it's sweet yet has a balancing bitter note - think oozingly rich chocolate fondant. Rich, spicy red wines can work well here, as the balance between the sweetness and the bitter edge in dark chocolate marries well with an intense, voluptuous drink. Chilean Carmenere can be great, Viña Falernia Carmenere Syrah, 2014 (£13.75) was spot on. In this wine, one third of the grapes are left to dry out to a raisin-like state, which means the wine is richer and takes on an 'amarone' type of intensity, with truffly, mocha notes, powerful enough to balance the brooding intensity of dark chocolate.

     

    Milk Chocolate

    The world's favourite style; here, the milk content adds to the sweetness and luxuriously creamy texture. Australian-style Muscats generally work well, but can overpower with their exuberant personalities, but my two favourites in this category are lesser well-known sweeties. First up, a glorious sweet red, somewhere between a dessert wine and port. Bertani Recioto 2012, 50cl (£23.00) from Italy is my go-to choice. Its mix of cinnamon, spice, and candied peel, is silky, sumptuous and utterly indulgent. My other top choice was PX Belle Luna (£8.95) - almost syrupy in texture, sensuous and swooningly enchanting, with its decadent raisin, dried fig and toffee character.

     

    White Chocolate

    People either love or hate white chocolate. Its a mix of mainly cocoa butter, milk and sugar, often flavoured with vanilla. This is where traditional dessert wines work well, with their gentle, honey and caramel edges. Patricius Late Harvest Tokaji 2015, 37.5cl (13.95) from the majestic Tokay region of Hungary is the style to fit the bill here, with its notes of acacia honey, honeysuckle and dried, candied oranges.

    To sum up, wine + chocolate = happiness!

     

     

    By Angela Mount - Bath Life Magazine

  • Chocolate and Wine – The Ultimate Indulgence

    Can wine go with chocolate? Can two indulgent, much-loved products marry? Or is this the marriage made in hell?

    Chocolate and wine – probably two of the items hitting the top of the list of indulgent everyday treats. But can they go together? Get it wrong, and it’s a teeth-screaming disaster on a major scale, jarring every tingling nerve. Get it right, and the world will be a sweeter and better place… a fusion of perfection, indulgence, decadence, and downright lusciousness.  If the match is right, it’s pure hedonistic, abandoned delight.

    A simple rule; you need to balance the sweetness levels. The sweetness of the wine should always match, or be sweeter than, the type of chocolate dessert. And with chocolate, that’s not always easy.

    As if levels of sweetness weren’t enough, it’s all about the type of chocolate, or chocolate dessert. I took this task very seriously, of course; to bring you my best recommendations I had to go through the pain of research, for the greater glory of perfecting the art of matching chocolate and wine. Several gooey desserts, and many Leonidas chocolates later, I’ve got my favourites, and some well-learnt new ideas.

    At a very basic level, Chocolate can kill many of the more delicate, sweet white wines, from German Riesling, to lively Muscats, simply because it will overpower and dominate. Save these glorious wines for fruit-based desserts.

    Chocolate, quite frankly, is an irresistible, sensuous, gorgeous brute – full on, unashamed, dominant and potentially overpowering.  At the risk of venturing into Fifty Shades territory, it veers from the flirty, playful temptress, which is white chocolate, to the Alpha male; the dark, brooding Montezuma-style chocolate which will beguile your senses, and take control, leaving you irresistible to its charms, albeit in different guises. Add the right wine to this, and it’s an ecstatic ascent to heavenly satisfaction.

    Fontanafredda, Moscato d'Asti 'Moncucco' DOCG

    White chocolate

    So it’s all about which chocolate, or which chocolate dessert… let’s start gently, with white chocolate, which is a relatively easy match, as it contains no cocoa solids; it’s the creamy, rich texture that you need to match.  The frothily light, sweetly grapey, and downright refreshing Fontanafredda Moscato d’Asti Moncucco, is a perfect, romantic, seductive match with strawberries dipped in white chocolate, or will also manage to stand up to the lightest of white chocolate and raspberry-rippled mousse or parfait.

     

    The Stump Jump Sticky Chardonnay, d'Arenberg

    Milk chocolate

    Riesling, and the more citrusy styles of sweet wine, are amongst my favourites, but are easily overpowered by chocolate. However, stick to the less intense milk chocolate, or balance with a fruit flavour, and they will work harmoniously. The soft, fluffy, textured layers of a milk chocolate mousse, cake, or Easter egg would work well with the rich, bold, dried apricot and citrus style of The Stump Jump Sticky 2010, which is made predominantly from Chardonnay.

     

    Peller Icewine Vidal

     

    Orange and chocolate are delightful partners, and this is where the tangerine and candied peel character, and mouthwatering, yet sweet, freshness of Peller Vidal Ice Wine 2013 comes into its own. Made in miniscule quantities from the luscious nectar of frozen grapes, the citrus flavours in both wine and chocolate will lift the entire experience. Sweet Rieslings from Australia would also work here.

     

    Bertani, Recioto Valpolicella DOC

     

    Red fruits, especially raspberries are simply glorious with chocolate, and here I like to ring the changes, and bring in the opulent, plummy, berry fruit flavours of sweet red and amber wines.  Try Bertani Recioto Valpolicella 2011, made from the concentrated juice of semi-dried red grapes, which balanced delightfully with both chocolate and raspberry torte, and, even a more unusual, beetroot and chocolate cake.

     

    Skillogalee Liqueur Muscat

    Dark chocolate

    If your chocolate of choice is darker and richer in cocoa solids, or if you bring honey, caramel or nuts into the equation, the journey of choice would lead to richer, Muscat-style ‘sticky’ wines. Chocolate soufflé with salted caramel was a sublime match made even beyond celestial skies, with the unctuous, brooding, mellifluous gorgeousness of Skillogalee Liqueur Muscat, with its brown sugar, toffee, and candied hazelnut tones. This is also a great bet with oozingly rich, decadent chocolate fondants.

     

    PX, Bella Luna, Jerez

    Port, especially Tawny is always great with intense, pure chocolate truffles.  However, I must share with you one of the most heaven-sent matches of them all, which may just surprise you.  It takes a bold wine to stand up to the sheer intensity and irrestistible, beckoning power of dense, dark chocolate, be it in the form of a truffle, a chocolate nemesis, or a dense gooey, dark chocolate torte – step up the equally dark, brooding and droolingly-glorious La Luna Pedro Ximinez, with its thick, dark, treacly colour, and  luscious, viscous, toffee,  muscovado, mocha and dried apricot fruit richness. Yes, it is a Sherry. And it is about as perfect as you can get with the very best and darkest of chocolate. I need say no more. Try it. Be seduced.

    By Angela Mount

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