Pairing Chocolate can be both fun and educational. Whatever your pairing, knowing interesting tidbits of information about it will enhance your tasting experience. The more you know, the more likely you may be to experiment and try new combinations.
The biggest part of pairing is to have fun, share with friends and family or give it a try on your own. Some will work and well let’s face it, some may not. But on the bright side, you learn what works and what doesn’t. There are a couple of ways to do a pairing, complimented flavours and sweetness and contrasting. It all varies with the different flavour profiles of each item you are pairing, remember everyones palate is different so no one tasting is the same for each.
Milk chocolate + white / light wines • Dark chocolate + red or more robust wines. • White chocolate (you be the judge)
Complimentary flavours and sweetness: Try a milk chocolate with a white wine or perhaps a white chocolate. The creaminess and sweeter taste can compliment a white wine but it will depend on the kind of white wine and it’s flavour profile. The beautiful thing about white wines is they tend to be crisp, refreshing and often fruit or floral forward. Chardonnay, Viognier, Savignon Blanc are good ones to start with as the flavour varies.
With red wine, complimentary flavours can be as simple as a 55% dark chocolate which is a good starting point as the bitterness isn’t as prevalent as it would be in a higher percentage. An 80 or 90% dark chocolate is a little to bitter as it would make the tannins really stand out and give you a very dry mouth feel. Depending on how adventurous you want to get and how much bitterness you like, it never hurts to try it. A great example of a pairing would be a Merlot or a Shiraz with our Peppa pocket bar. The tannins of a red wine give you that slightly dry feeling in the back of your tongue but the cracked pepper and slight bitterness of the dark chocolate really mellows out the tannins and creates a new taste experience by making the flavour of the wine almost smoother and richer. Highly recommend trying it.
Contrasting flavours: This is our favourite, as it really starts to get interesting the more combinations you play with. A crisp white chardonnay and an orange infused dark chocolate like our Oranji pocket bar for example. Sweeter wine but in contrast to the slightly bitter dark chocolate it works because of the citrus notes of the Orange & slight bitterness of the goji berries.
A light red and a milk chocolate is another contrasting combination worth a try. A point of interest to take into consideration however is how the wine is produced, was it aged in oak or stainless steel? Why does it matter? flavor profile.
As you have no doubt figured out, how wines are made in conjunction to the type of chocolate you taste with can create altogether new combinations. It’s all about flavour and what influences is has on you palate. Keep reading to find out more about wine, how to do a chocolate tasting, interesting facts & tips and F.A.Q. Read our blog for interesting tie bits of information direct from the chocolatier. Or check out the pairing guide for each of our pocket bars.
HOW TO DO A TASTING:
Unless you have done a chocolate tasting before start simple and with only a few wines and chocolates. We recommend perhaps 2 bottles of white & 2 bottles of red, some Belgian milk chocolate and two different percentages of Belgian dark chocolate ( suggestions: 55% & 77% ) Good gourmet / quality couverture chocolate is the only way to go. To many options can be overwhelming, confusing your tastebuds and guests. Keep it simple and as you develop your tasting experience then add infused chocolate flavours or truffles. Just remember, it’s chocolate and wine. Don’t take it to seriously just have fun with it!
A couple of key things to remember….
ALWAYS start with your sweeter wine and chocolate, work your way to the red and dark chocolate.
DON’T RUSH, take your time to enjoy all the savoury moments. Your mouth will thank you for it and you’ll notice more subtle flavours.
SHARE. everyone tastes differently so share your experience as you go or take notes and discuss them after each pairing. You may want to revisit the same pairing based on someone else’s discovery.
CLEANSE. between tastings you may want to nibble on some crackers, sip room temperature water to cleanse your palate.
TIMING is EVERYTHING. it’s best to do a tasting mid-afternoon or mid-evening when guests / yourself are not hungry nor full.
TASTE: Before tasting the wine take note of the character of the wine, the body (how it coats the inside of the glass, the bouquet (the aroma), then taste the wine on it’s own, take a small sip and kinda slurp it in bringing in a little air with the your sip. Let it coat all parts of your tongue. It will change as it lingers in your mouth, the tannins may be come more pronounced or simply be smooth and bold, it depends on the wine of course. What do you taste? Make notes.
Now the chocolate, take a small piece and chew two or three times, let it melt over your tongue. What do you taste? Make notes…. is it earthy, have caramel flavor or any interesting characteristics? Perhaps tabaco?
Now cleanse your palate with room temperature water.
Combining the two, taste the chocolate, then taste the wine. repeat as needed. Does the wine or chocolate taste different? has the profile of the wine changed? or the taste of the chocolate? Do you find you taste other flavors you didn’t when either were tasted individually? Compare your tastes now to your original notes. What did you find?
Looking for correct wine terminology, click here for a list of terms…..
TASTING PARTY PREPARATION:
Wine Temperatures: When it comes to serving temperature, a wine should be just right. Too hot and the wine’s alcohol will be emphasized, leaving it flat and flabby. Too cold and the aromas and flavors will be muted and, for reds, the tannins may seem harsh and astringent. Too often, white wines are served straight out of a fridge while reds are opened at a toasty room temperature, neither of which are ideal. What’s “just right” for you is a matter of individual taste, but here are some general guidelines:
Light dry white wines, rosés, sparkling wines: Serve at 40° to 50° F to preserve their freshness and fruitiness. Think crisp Pinot Grigio and Champagne. For sparklers, chilling keeps bubbles fine rather than frothy. This is also a good range for white dessert wines; sweetness is accentuated at warmer temperatures, so chilling them preserves their balance without quashing their vibrant aromas.
Full-bodied white wines and light, fruity reds: Serve at 50° to 60° F to pick up more of the complexity and aromatics of a rich Chardonnay or to make a fruity Beaujolais more refreshing.
Full-bodied red wines and Ports: Serve at 60° to 65° F—cooler than most room temperatures and warmer than ideal cellaring temperatures—to make the tannins in powerful Cabernet or Syrah feel more supple and de-emphasize bitter components.
Borrowed from The Wine Spectator (http://www.winespectator.com/)
OPTION: Cover the labels as to stop preconceived notions of wine and or chocolate from interfering in the tasting.
Chocolate: Chocolate should be served at room temperature, milk chocolate first, then dark chocolate followed by any chocolate flavored or with fruit and nuts if you decide to try them.
A PAIRING PARTY GROCERY LIST:
1) Buy your wine, suggest no more then 2 or 3 of either red or white wine. Try all one region or have another party for each region.
2) Chocolate, get good couverture chocolate (should not have vegetable fats in the ingredient list, only cocoa butter) purchase different percentages, different origins (South America, Ecuador, Ghana, Mexico, Guatemala to name a few)
3) Print tasting mat for taking notes and staying organized.
4) Room temperature water or unsalted crackers. To cleanse the palate.
Have fun and enjoy! Send us your photo’s from your tasting party and we’ll post them in our blog!