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Pairing options

The Choco-locate Romance, An Evening of Fine Wine and Decadent Chocolates

hillary — 5 years ago

Smelling

Wine and chocolate were together at last at the Choco-locate Romance event last week. Chocolate enthusiasts met up with wine connoisseurs to celebrate a match made in heaven at Rubin Art. Decadent European chocolates and fine wines all in one romantic Valentine evening? You really can have it all.

While skipping along our chocolate path Choco-locate was happy pick up friends like Rubin Art-our destination for the evening. Their delicate hand crafted porcelain and overhead crystal chandeliers set the mood for a romantic affair in the heart of downtown Toronto. But let’s not forget about their chocolate! Rubin Art’s selection of Hungarian handmade chocolate gems created a symphony of textures and tastes that were the perfect pairing for some luxurious wines. Kristof Rubin, President of Rubin Art, walked the group through the chocolate tasting process while the wines were in the good hands of wine connoisseur, Catherine Mortimer. Catherine brought along the premium wines from Sideroad Twenty Cellars in Niagara and quickly got ‘down and dirty’ with the basics of tasting wine and awakening the senses.

Eyeing
“Some of the most important elements of tasting wine is through the use of not just one but all of your senses,” explains Catherine. First step is to observe the colour - the tone of a red or the paleness of a white. Catherine continues, “It can tell you a lot about the type of grape/varietal, the age of the wine and the process.” White wines tend to get darker with age, and reds get lighter in colour (separation occurs, which leaves you with sediment at the bottom of the bottle). Mystery solved.

Notes 2
If you are familiar with basic wine tastings you will know that up next is the ‘swirling’, which is intended to show you the amount of alcohol in the wine. The longer or ‘thicker’ the swirl, the more alcohol. ;)

Having Fun
Now we smell. This is the first step of your sensuous journey. “A lot of what you smell with transcend into what you taste. This is where the licorice-y, cassis, cherry, or chocolate elements jump out at me,” says Catherine. And then, of course, you taste.

Now, wait a minute did someone say chocolate elements? This is where I start to perk up and the best part, the pairing begins. There are basic similarities in flavours with both wine and chocolate- and this is simply why they go so nicely together.

When tasting the chocolate and wine together, its important that they are tried on their own first. This way you can enjoy the true intended tastes of each the chocolate and the wine. Catherine explains, “I like taking a small bite of chocolate (truffle) allowing it to melt, and help it along with a small sip of wine. The flavours then engage and marry and the elements of one highlight the other.” True BLISS.

getting to know you
The first selection of pairings that we tried was the white wines. Catherine chose the Stonechurch Reserve Riesling (2009) paired with the Hot and Sweet Chocolate from Wagner Handmade Chocolates. The sweet subtlety of the wine worked well with the slow, rising heat of the chili truffle. The combination of flirtatious floral notes from the Riesling created a perfect balance of smooth and richness with the dark truffle.

Up next on the chopping block was the Sauvignon Blanc and its companion the Bangkok chocolate. The wines bright notes of gooseberry and tropical fruit melted into the tangy lime and ginger spice of the chocolate. For a moment, I was transported back to the busy streets of Bangkok and the smell of a friendly street vendor frying up a sweet chili Thai dish. This was among my favourite pairings, the apple of my eye, if you will.

Lastly, the 2008 Riesling/Gewurtztraminer and the Almond Delight Chocolate was brought out. The soft honey sweetness of the Riesling was delicate on the palate and really brought out the warm roasted almond flavours in the semi-sweet crunch of the chocolate. A heavenly combination.

Reds
Now moving on to the darker side of things, Catherine introduced the red wines. In my opinion, on a winter evening there is nothing like a mulled and spicy red wine bedside a warm fireplace. We have been lucky that this year the winter has not been too harsh but during those few snowy spells, red wine has been my wine of choice. So, you can imagine that I was very excited for these particular ‘red-wine-meets-chocolate’ pairing options.

Red Wines
We started with the 2007 Reserve Pinot Noir and a classic salted caramel. The fruit in the wine enhanced the sweet milk chocolate in the truffle. But it was the saltiness of the chocolate that awakened a gentle almost floral flavour in the wine. It’s ironic that the Pinot Noir is probably the most difficult grape to grow properly (that it is nicknamed by wineries as the ‘heartbreak grape’). I guess that is why it seemed so irresistible.

The 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon followed with its deep red color full of ripe cherry and raspberry fruit aromas. It was paired with the popular Wagner’s Violin, a milk chocolate praline with a crispy wafer center. The soft tannins in the wine brought out the gentle nuttiness of the gooey praline center- simply to die for!

Lastly was the Stonechurch Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot (2008). It was the perfect match for the tenderness of the Lavender truffle. Medium bodied but full of sweet dark fruit flavours that was soft enough as to not over power the lavender chocolate. Yet, it was bold enough to shine through and highlight the dark berry flavour profile in the wine. It made my heart skip a beat.

In a nutshell, when pairing wine and chocolate it is best to let your taste buds lead the way. But there are a few basic rules and tips (in case you would like to try this at home):

Outside
The wine should be sweeter than the chocolate. You will need a bold enough wine to cut through the richness of the chocolate, look for flavour profiles and similarities. For example, a bittersweet chocolate tends to pair well with an intense, in-your-face California Zinfandel or even a tannin-driven Cabernet Sauvignon.

Tastes Good
Similar to “formal” wine tasting (like at the Choco-locate event) if you will be experimenting with several varieties of chocolates, work from light to dark.
Great Notes
Start with a more subtle white chocolate and end on a dark or bittersweet chocolate. And above all explore the flavour profiles, experiment and have fun!

For more information on practical wine advice, wine tasting or buying wine direct contact Catherine at: cmortimer@sr20.ca

All wines were supplied by Sideroad Twenty Cellars http://www.sideroadtwentycellars.com/ and all the above chocolates are available at Rubin Art in Toronto at 1177 Yonge St. http://choco-locate.com/shops/wagner-handmade-chocolate/

For more information about Choco-locate chocolate events, visit our events pages here: http://choco-locate.com/events/

Chocolate, ChocolatePairing, chocolocateteam, hillaryblog, Wine

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