Lisa Hutchinson from The Passionate Cooks Essentials, here in Uxbridge, asked us if we had any recommendations for chocolate/wine pairing, for her Ladies Night this Thursday. That being only 4 days away we realized we had to get on it! Immediately.
We had some wine at home but I dashed to the LCBO to gather up some of our favorites, being sure to pick a variety of varietals!
Then we stopped chocolate production to do a little tasting.
Here’s what we tried:
Barahonda Campo Arriba Monsastrell Syrah Tintorera
I love the wines from this winery in Spain. I was introduced to them through their 2012 Barrica, which is full of dark red fruit and licorice and was chewy and delicious. The Arriba has similar flavours, but is much lighter. This wine went very well with the Camino Verde bars. The fruit in the wine meshed completely with the chocolate and even brought out a vein of coffee flavor in the chocolate.
The next wine we tried was the Kaiken Ultra. We’ve liked both the Ultra and the plain Kaiken, two lovely Malbecs from Argentina. The Kaiken tasting notes mention chocolate so we thought perhaps there would be a sympathetic relationship between the wine and the chocolate. The Kaiken definitely went well with the Camino Verde and the Ambanja. Rather than blending, the flavours worked well side by side. No fireworks but a comfortable blend.
Small Gully Wines The Formula
The third wine was The Formula, a shiraz from Australia. We first met this wine last summer, when our daughter’s boyfriend brought it for dinner. He scored major points for that move, it’s a superb wine.
We did think the dark rich fruit of this wine would be a perfect match for any of the Ambanja bars, and we were right. But what a match! Both the chocolate and the wine exploded with flavor. The Ambanja bar already has solid red fruit and with this comes a little bit of astringency. When combined with the Shiraz, the chocolate was smoothed out and the red fruit became full and jammy. I had to try this one a couple of times it was so good. Sensational pairing.
With the Kilombera bar, which has very little fruit at all, and is mostly a full earthy chocolate, the wine again blended seamlessly with the chocolate, and each seemed to soften and enhance the other. The wine gained a smoothness it didn’t have before and the chocolate adopted some of the dark fruit of the wine. Another pairing where the combination benefited both.
The Formula was good with the Camino Verde. They walked pleasantly in step with each other rather than combining forces.
I’ve always thought of our Dominicana bar as something like a combination of Kilombero and Ambanja. You get the deep chocolate flavor of the Kilombero and some of those high red fruit notes of the Ambanja. So it goes without saying that we found the Dominicana also went very well with The Formula. Rather than produce the rich jamminess that it did with the Ambanja, the combination enhanced the chocolate flavor instead. Really wonderful combination.
Bodegas Beronia Rioja
The final wine was one of Erik’s choices and he was right on the mark. So far we hadn’t found a wine we loved with our flavoured bars, Black Pepper Cardamom and Orange Spice. The rioja however, was flat out spectacular paired with the black pepper cardamom bar. The rioja latched on to the spice flavours in the chocolate and seemed to fling them around your mouth (OK, by now I've had quite a bit of wine). Tasted together the wine seemed to became chocolately and the chocolate more spicy and rich.
With the Orange Spice bar, the spice/nutmeg was similarly enhanced leaving you with a lighter chocolate flavour and a variety of spices.
With the Ambanja bar, the rioja did something completely different. It smoothed out the astringency of the red currant flavours and left you with a luscious deep chocolate with a taste of dark red fruit.
The rioja blended well with the Kilombero, too. The chocolate provided a base note to the wine, and the wine left the chocolate with almost a hint of orange or other citrus. Another really good pairing.
Finally, it also went well with the Camino Verde, enhancing the chocolate's coffee flavours and inserting a balanced fruitiness. Yummy!
So, Lisa here’s what we suggest…if you were only to buy one wine we’d have to say the rioja. But if you bought only the rioja you’d miss out on that spectacular pairing with the shiraz. So, our recommendation is two wines, the rioja Beronia and the shiraz, The Formula. Unless, of course, you want to buy three….
Final note, to all the beer drinkers out there. The Second Wedge Brewery here in Uxbridge has a Christmas seasonal out now called Spice Factory. it is delicious and tastes like all the best winter dessert flavours in a beer. We've found that our Kilombero bar pairs very well with Second Wedge beers, and our Orange Spice bar uses Kilombero beans. So, let’s not forget that beer DOES go with chocolate and for a delicious cold weather warmer, I recommend introducing our Orange Spice chocolate to a Spice Factory beer sometime soon.