Friday, February 13, 2015

Do Wine and Chocolate Go Together?

It's the day before Valentine's Day and it's Friday the 13th. The pressure is on - I should be coming up with a post about love, or romance, or at least wine.

Ah, wine.  Either I've just gained a lot of readers for this post, or lost their interest.  So, up front, let me admit - I am no wine expert.  Or even close to it.  When people swirl a wine in their mouths and gush about the notes of peach, blackberry, tobacco, leather, heather, or whatever, I say "um, this tastes like - uh, wine."

So let's talk about chocolate, instead.

What goes better with Valentine's Day than chocolate? Wine.  The problem is, they usually don't go together.  Wine and chocolate don't mix.  Or do they?

Last night, we went to a wine and chocolate pairing seminar at a local liquor store.  I had low expectations but it was the promise of free chocolate that drew me in.  My previous experiences with pairing wine and chocolate had been disappointing.

Last year, for example, I decided to try a New York chocolate/grape wine, Chocolate Lab wine. I never did write my review of it because I was so disappointed.

This time, though, I would be trying something paired by a wine expert.

I sat next to a large wine glass, and six items arranged on a napkin.  There was (clockwise) a raspberry, a wafer of white chocolate, a chocolate covered almond, a piece of dark chocolate with raspberry flakes, a small piece of 72% cacao chocolate and a piece of dark chocolate infused with cinnamon.

The six pairings began.  The first wine was prosecco, a sparkling white wine from the eastern part of Italy.  It is sparkling wine, NOT Champagne.  The really nice thing about prosecco (besides its price) is that it is approachable  - a good beginner's choice.  I love prosecco.

This wine just isn't good with chocolate (told you so!), and, instead of chocolate, it was paired with the raspberry.  By tasting this combo, I learned why my previous experiences with wine and chocolate hadn't worked.  The wines were just too acid. And the chocolates were wrong.

Last night, I learned that chocolate can be paired with wine.  It's hard to do but, like all hard things, it has its rewards.  Above are my notes from my tasting.  (One note - the port "from 1727" - it was the company, not the port, that dated from 1727.)

In the past year, I've decided to be DIFFERENT (my word for 2015).  My early close encounters with wine were of the Manischewitz/Boone's Farm/1970's sangria kind, and, during the 40 years of my adulthood, I had never progressed past super-sweet.  I had never learned how to pair wine with food, either.

Last year, I decided to learn more about wine, and I've had a good time doing so, even taking two trips into Finger Lakes wine country for that purpose.   I've learned a little about wine (just enough to be dangerous), even though my drink of choice with food continues to be - believe it or not - flavored seltzer.

Still, I've just begun to learn just how complex the art of wine is.  I live just about an hour outside New York's wine country.  As our wine expert said last night, you could fling certain types of grapevines on the ground here, and they would grow.  Catawbas, Niagaras and Concords do quite well here.  Other grapevines need a lot more care, but wineries are popping up everywhere around some of the Finger Lakes.  On parts of Seneca Lake, you can almost literally walk from winery to winery, if you don't mind dodging cars.

This weekend, some wineries are doing chocolate and wine pairings.  Now, if only we could start growing cacao in the Finger Lakes, we would be all set.  Just think.  Native New York chocolate.

New York - The State of Romance.

Imagine that.

What food or beverage does your home area specialize in?

9 comments:

  1. I also know nothing about wine and how to pair it, but I do enjoy a glass now and then. And when I get the pairing right (which is seldom)--wow! I can see why people work so hard to get the right foods with the right wines! There's nothing like it!

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    1. Wine pairing is an art, as is wine making. But what I am looking forward to tonight is - chocolate! I tasted a fantastic chocolate cherry bread this afternoon while shopping - came so close to buying it!

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  2. Hi Alana,

    Yes wine and chocolate do go together rather nicely :) Great post and share!

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    1. Found the two secrets - a non acidic wine and only using dark chocolate. Thanks for stopping by!

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  3. I wish I could like wine. I have tried. It is way classier the ice tea I drink now. I would love to learn more about chocolate but that is off my menu now too. Oh well. It was cool reading about the pairings. My Mister will be interested. He was a bartender for almost two decades and likes wine. This will be a good topic for us. Thank you. Great posting.

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    1. Tea can be quite classy. I love iced tea (unsweetened). It was my favorite beverage as a child, too.

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  4. Love this post. Mostly because I also love wine, a lot. So you didn't polarize this reader! ;) Being pregnant I can't drink wine, for obvious reasons and very much look forward to when I can again. I HAVE had wine and chocolate together that were the right pairing, but you're right, it's almost like a science to figure out what the right pairing is!

    Thanks for stopping over at The Innovative Mama and commenting. I do hope you will come back by!

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    1. If you are still craving sweet stuff, you could try my recipe for chocolate mousse (posted today) without the alcoholic component. I did enjoy your blog, and I will be back.

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  5. I took 5 years of wine tasting classes and have forgotten much of what I learned, but still enjoy tasting and trying different wines. I remember pairing wine with chocolate was considered different, but one suggestion was, as shown in your picture, ruby port. Another was VIn de Maury (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maury_AOC). But I'm not a big chocolate fan, so don't worry about the question too much!

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