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Chocolate and wine together
February 6, 2006
1:03 pm
Domenico
Budapest, Hungary
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A difficult issue but can lead to a revelatory experience. Culinary culture also has a strong impression on the topic. Most French sommeliers would stick to the Death by Chocolate role of thumb for a non-sweet (red) wine. On the contrary most New World views support pairing New World wines (Cabernet Sauvignons, Syrahs, Zinfandels, I even read about pairing a Sauvignon Blanc) with dark chocolate. The Italian scene formerly forbidding red wine and chocolate from each other is now taking a U-turn, but interestingly they find lightly elegant supertuscan wines go better with chocolate than French ones. I myself had extremely good experience with pairnig some light, spicy elegant Hungarian reds to Amedei chocolates.
Of course I do not speak about too obvious pairings of natural sweet or fortified wines like a Port, a Banyuls, or a Tokaji and dark chocolate.
Could anyone of you contribute with own experience or some principles to follow?
Thanks
dom

February 6, 2006
3:55 pm
Hans-Peter Rot
USA
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Visit these threads:

http://www.seventypercent.com/.....ms=alcohol

http://www.seventypercent.com/.....ms=alcohol

http://www.seventypercent.com/.....Terms=rhum

Generally, my rule of thumnb is to never pair anything dry because the chocolate's flavor will be dominated. Aged alcohol also tends to pair better too, since the tannins have had a chance to mellow out. Speaking of tannins, here's a thread that discusses chocolate and tea:

http://www.seventypercent.com/.....ms=Rooibus

Hope any of that helps.

February 7, 2006
11:03 am
Domenico
Budapest, Hungary
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Thanks and sorry for the lack of attentiveness regarding these threads.
I would like to clarify first that I am not searching something that would help to bring out all the qualities of a chocolate with a clean palate. For this goal, water (and maybe white bread) will always be the best. I rather search something new that will be created by the dialogue of a wine and a chocolate, something that has not been existing before neither in the wine nor in the chocolate. This feeling is hard to find but once you get it, you will look for another experience.
The same way I would like to stick to wine and would not speak about any other alcoholic drink. Rhum, whiskies and the like have a centuries-old culture to be paired with chocolate. The game between wine and chocolate is a new experiment sometimes going beyond common sense. And frankly I don't think anyone should avoid dry wines. Maybe too tannic ones, yes.

February 7, 2006
12:10 pm
ellie
london, United Kingdom
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Tastes do differ - why else some people prefer one drink to another? But I agree, there are some pairings of chocolate with wine, which immediately hit you, like " eureka!", and you'd feel it as obvious combination. I generally find pairing with spirits a bit too fast, but that's me, - I drink normally wine, not even champagne, - may be that's a reason I don't think any champange goes with chocolate.
Not surpised, Domenico, to see that you like chocolate with Hungarian reds.

February 14, 2006
2:28 am
gap
Melbourne, Australia
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I have seen this group at a few food fairs in Melbourne now and noticed their chocolate being sold at some upmarket wine stores. I haven't tried it yet but thought it might be interesting for this discussion - it is wine grape flavoured chocolate (patent pending)

http://www.coolhealth.com.au/h.....colate.htm

February 14, 2006
10:08 am
Domenico
Budapest, Hungary
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Thanks, gap!
I just read through it. Interesting. They say they have the only cocoa plantation in Australia, and the trees are babies yet. So I presume they are not using those beans. But then from where are they sourcing? Would be also interesting to know more about the baby trees: could be a wide spectrum from Porcelanas to Forasteros...
On the other hand, I tried several pairings of Amedei Crus and some wines and I find that I have to go for the balancing of wine and chocolate caracteristics (e.g. the creamier Grenada with a more tannic wine or a woody Jamaica with a wine containing more glycerol) and one or two similar flavours in them to create a harmony. However I find it is hard to deduct general rules from exact pairings. I am still working on it, now with more known wines.
I will only contribute with one exact, though strange pair: I tried a very fruity, freshly acidic but well balanced dry white wine - a Viognier (producer: Tibor Gal) of Eger (this is a volcanic soil wine region in Hungary) that was elevated in new oak barrels so the characteristic vanilla and punch aromas were also present. The Jamaica was really good with it. Vanilla flavours became much more evident while the strong woody chocolate tastes made a harmony with the weaker mineral tones of the wine. Here the common core of tastes was peaches and apricots: wine had both in great amounts while Jamaica has a dried apricot taste in the depth. (It is not only my opinion, but also Cecilia's).

February 14, 2006
2:12 pm
ellie
london, United Kingdom
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Gap, do you have list of ingredients on those wine chocs?

February 14, 2006
8:53 pm
gap
Melbourne, Australia
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Ellie, for no other reason than research purposes, I will go and buy some of the said chocolate and report back with a list of ingredients.

February 14, 2006
10:02 pm
oz_choc
Kandos, Australia
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This is meandering away from the original post, but I'd really like to point out the absurdity of growing cocoa in Australia.

Any cocoa grown in Australia will almost certainly be a high-yielding hybrid, which doesn't bode well for anyone hoping for Porcelana.

Because of the high cost of land and labour in Australia, it has been estimated that cocoa plantations here would consistently have to yield 3 tonnes per hectare for the crop to be profitable. Currently, a "good" yield for your average small-holder in Ghana is about 0.7 tonnes/ha. On the other hand, using current high-yielding hybrids and agrochemicals, you can expect a yield of >2 tonnes/ha.

None of the Australian mainland falls within 10 degrees of the equator. (You can grow cocoa pretty much anywhere if you throw enough resources at it, but it's no coincidence that the major production areas all lie within 10 degrees of the equator).

When cocoa is grown in Australia, it has to be irrigated. Currently, drought is afflicting more than 60% of the state of Queensland (where cocoa is usually grown in Australia). Why would anybody squander water on irrigating a crop that grows very happily without irrigation in many of our neighbouring countries (such as PNG, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, and Samoa)?

Sam

February 14, 2006
10:38 pm
Sebastian
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Yeah, but you guys do grow a mean bunch of grapes 8-)

February 15, 2006
5:27 am
oz_choc
Kandos, Australia
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Well, sure, Aussie grapes have to be mean to survive the conditions! [;)]

(I live in wine country. Sadly, a vineyard 500 metres up the road from here was destroyed by bushfire last weekend, along with several hundred head of sheep).

February 15, 2006
6:44 am
gap
Melbourne, Australia
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For Ellie and others who are interested, I purchased a block of the Cocoa Farm Shiraz Vintage Chocolate. Not having the descriptive vocabulary of either a wine or chocolate "taster", all I can say is I liked it. It is not high-end chocolate, but the grape "feel" worked well - I could smell the grapes/wine when I opened the foil wrapping. The manager of the wine store I bought it from said the chocolate had been selling well - price AUD4.95 per 100 grams.

The ingredients are: chocolate (sugar, cocoa liquor, full cream milk powder, cocoa butter, soy lecithin, emulsifier (476), natural vanilla flavour), currants, Australian shiraz wine, grape skin extract, grape seed extract, flavours.

Registers at 0.25% alcohol.

April 21, 2006
1:42 pm
Domenico
Budapest, Hungary
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Going back to the original subject I just had a very interesting experience. I went through 2 milk chocolates, Amedei Toscano Brown and Domori's Kamba Latte&Vaniglia with the same 4 types of sweet white wines and the point was that a wine higher in acids and more characteristic in the nose was paired better with the higher cocoa content of Latte&Vaniglia. One French, a Muscat de Frontignan and a Hungarian dessert wine, Arvay's Sweet Life from Tokaj were really revelating. The combination of Toscano Brown with Sweet Life was also great. Next time, a selection of darker ones from Caraibe through some Amedei to Galler 85 with reds...

August 21, 2006
2:20 pm
Domenico
Budapest, Hungary
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I have to add one fantastic combination: it was Amedei Toscano Black 70 with a light-styled, slightly acidic Pinot Noir (www.taschner.hu) from the region of Sopron, having a lead note of cherries with faint coffee tones and a slight animality. The dialogue between the wine and the choc was really a hit. New tastes emerged on the palate (many of us felt mango and raspberries) and the consistencies of the wine and the choc (or the palpation inside the mouth) became really partners with a long, velvety feeling. No one would have thought about such an experience in the company of friends.
But if I mentioned Galler 85, it was paired very well with some classic, full bodied, rich, tannic Bordeaux-type cuvées. Guanaja was hard to match with anything, just as Amedei Venezuela. Domori's Blend no. 1 went also well with a bit more tannic ones. We are now having monthly tastings of chocolate and wine in different clubs etc., so experience is gathering.

January 30, 2007
12:39 am
Domenico
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I just went through a thread http://www.seventypercent.com/.....hichpage=4 where again wine and choc was discussed. The second reason to continue this series was that we had 5 other wine/chocolate degustations (or how to call this in English) with 6 wines each and I wanted to share some really good ones and also some really awful ones to avoid.
I have to admit two things: now I stick to Amedei Cru series, and only one role of thumb could I firmly make. This is: good chocolate will select *really* good wine. My keyword is harmony. Wines lacking harmony or having too much artificial stuff inside (I can mention heavy chips use and thoughtless acids- or tannin addition or tannin change or reverse osmosis for example) will fail the chocolate test and be felt very unbalanced.
I start with the most uncommon ones: dry white wines. Another Viognier now from a different wine region of Hungary (those interested try http://www.heimann.hu) with its characteristic apricot and pear tones was again excellent with Jamaica. But Madagascar paired with a grandiose Tokaj dry white cuvée (Arvay Vulcanus 2002) was an immediate hit. If I could not find any red formerly for Madagascar, this white was a thrill. The wine is very rich in glycerol and extracts, highly mineral, but also strongly sherry-like (most dry Tokaj wines have a reminiscence in style as a dry sherry but with much more complexity and much more freshness). The nose and palate of citrus flavors was awesome with Madagascar's tangerine and nuts. High but very masculine acidity of the wine was even elevating the experience, it did not fight with Madagascar's acidity at all. Approximately 40 people tried this one, and all were taken high, here there was a real unanimity. Interestingly, when asked, men mentioned more the feeling of citrus flavors than women, who mostly talked about the nutty tones emerging from the pairing. Oh, I forgot to tell that wine is alway first to taste before chocolate otherwise a thin cocoa butter layer on the tongue will prevent us from full evaluation of the wine tastes. So I will keep exploring the white domain as well-not forgetting that Hungary has some really unique great white wines. If I had to mention one wine region from us that is world leader and outstanding, it would definitely be Tokaj, and dry ones from there, too. Again two things had to find harmony: an aroma core (here citrus and nuts) and a pairable structure in both the wine and the choc. The latter can be I think both agonistic and antagonistic, just they have to stand up for each other.

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