Thursday, April 09, 2009

Chocolate and wine matching

With Easter just around the corner, culinary thoughts may well be turning towards chocolate. On Sunday, the Easter Bunny will hopefully arrive bringing chocolate eggs, rabbits, truffles and other scrumptious goodies.

There are people who claim not to like chocolate. This is something that I've never been able to understand though I frequently wish that I fell into that category (...I'd be a great deal less rotund). However, I have to tell you that over the past few days I have been suffering rather from chocolate excess. Yesterday I found myself unable to even look at a chocolate.

Shocking, isn't it?

The reason for my sudden chocolate aversion is due entirely to over-indulgence. On Saturday I hosted a chocolate and wine matching workshop for work and have been munching on the sublime leftover chocolates ever since. They were amazingly good (especially the salted pralines) but deeply intense and 'serious' chocolates. I've definitely eaten too many.

However, for the greater good, I have decided to post about chocolate despite my current aversion. Or rather, I've decided to post about matching chocolate and wine. It isn't an obvious combination certainly. In fact, in many cases, the combination can be downright disastrous. Chocolate's delicious melty texture coats the palate, making is tough for any wine to get through. The intense flavour of good quality chocolate plus the high sugar content of some render the brown stuff even less wine-friendly.

However, all is not lost! There are wines which can work with chocolate (and chocolates for that matter).

My tips, for those who are interested, are as follows:

1. Fortified wines often work best. The extra alcohol stands up to the texture and intensity of chocolate. There are plenty to choose from. My top choice might be a Malmsey Madeira which works particularly well with any chocolate dessert featuring nuts.

Sherry is another good choice - choose either a sweet oloroso (oloroso dulce) or for ultimate decadence, try a Pedro Ximenez poured over chocolate and vanilla ice cream. Divine.

Port can work - I've had chilled tawny port alongside many a chocolate torte and the match is reasonable.

Look too at fortified reds from the South of France - Banyuls or Maury for example. For me, these work well with chocolate deserts featuring red fruits.

2. The Muscat grape is your friend. Or rather, it is chocolate's friend. In most of its forms actually. Of course, the deep and sticky fortified raisined muscats from Rutherglen in Australia work a treat but you can go off-piste here too. A real winner from our tasting at the weekend was a light and frothy Moscato d'Asti. This fun and frivolous Italian classic is especially good with white chocolate (not that there is such a thing per se) and also with creamy milk chocolate truffles. It would also be worth a try with a light and airy milk chocolate mousse.

3. Sparkling Shiraz is not for everyone but I've met many who really enjoy it alongside a slice of chocolate cake. Certainly better than a glass of dry Champagne to accompany the cake at a birthday party.

4. Finally, it is important to know which wines to avoid when serving up your chocolate-fest. Avoid anything dry or tannic - ideally you need as much if not more sweetness in the wine as in the dessert. A dry, tannic red will be stripped of its fruit by a mere mouthful of chocolate. Avoid classic dessert wines such as Sauternes - save these lighter, creamy puddings or even blue cheese.

With that, I wish you all an extremely Happy Easter!


Peter M said...

I adore chocolate with bold, oaked wines...changes the character and bouquet completely.

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

Ice wine in a dark chocolate cup works nicely for me. Thanks for the tips on wines to try with our chocolate Antonia.

David T said...

Iron Gate Sweet Shiraz, from is their house wine, and especially for eating with chocolate.

Nic said...

Great information!
Happy Easter!!

Maggie said...

Wow that is a very informative posting Antonia. Very interesting - will pass this information on to my husband.

manila homes said...

I adore chocolate with bold, oaked wines... simply delightful