Chocolate and Wine – a Marriage Made in Heaven?
While on paper the combination of chocolate and wine might sound delectable – especially if you are a chocaholic like me who is also fond of the odd glass – the reality is that matching chocolate and wine is regarded as quite challenging. Add to that flavoured chocolates – of the type sold by Lindt in their EXCELLENCE range and it’s perhaps a good idea to leave it to the experts. So, when invited to Vinopolis to preview the planned pairing masterclass that will be running next year, I’d have been churlish to decline.
I didn’t know that one of my favourite chocolatiers, Stefan Bruderer (Master Chocolatier at Lindt) would be there in person, so I was thrilled to find him on stage – flown in for the day from Switzerland to present with Tom Forrest, Vinopolis’ Senior Wine Expert. Stefan is someone I’ll never forget, he has a Willy Wonka like fascination with chocolate and his explanation of why he wanted to be a chocolatier from a very early age has stayed with me since I first came across him. Tom was a great match for Stefan, with a parallel enthusiasm for wine and a charismatic personality. We learnt a little about the wine and a little about the chocolate as we went through, and we were given tips for tasting to maximise the result. Try breathing in through your mouth and out through your nose when you taste wine. The result is quite extraordinary and intensifies the aromas of the wine.
While we did have the chance to try all the chocolates, our own pairing event was a cut down version of the one that will be launched in January.
We got to try Lindt Touch of Sea Salt with a Montes Classic Malbec first which worked well for me, though I thought the Malbec was a little coarse. That might have had something to do with having spent the last few days tasting fine wines from France, or it could have been just the fact that it was lunch time and we’d started the event with a glass of fizz.
Stefan was rightly passionate about Lindt Excellence Cherry Intense, a chocolate flavour which I would normally avoid. Here though the addition of tiny morsels of almonds set off the cherry perfectly. Paired with Carrick Unravelled Pinot Noir 2012 the cherry was intensified in the wine without in any way diminishing the delicious chocolate.
Pairing Brown Bros Orange Muscat and Flora with Lindt Excellence Orange Intense was perhaps the most obvious on paper. I love both independently – and they are genuinely complementary flavours.
70% Dark Chocolate is something I enjoy on limited occasions. It depends a lot on what else I’ve been eating – usually I find it particularly challenging if I’ve been trying other chocolates with a lower cocoa content for example. I was suprised at how well the Graham’s LBV Port 2008 worked at smoothing out the finish on what I sometimes find to be a chocolate that is too tannic
The Lindt EXCELLENCE chocolate and wine pairing masterclasses will take place at Vinopolis at 7pm on the last Thursday of every month throughout 2015. Tickest cost £40 and are available from Vinopolis.
No 1 Bank End
London SE1 9BU