Presented by Cassandra Anderton, of Goodlife Vancouver, an afternoon of wonderful BC Wines (and a BC Cider), and fabulous BC Chocolates. The wines are from Black Cloud Winery, Desert Hills Winery, Rollingdale Winery, Raven’s Ridge and Saturna Island Estate Winery.
The Chocolates are amazing – produced by ChocolateWorks and Rubens Chocolate, in Coquitlam. Using high end chocolate from Belcolade, the pairings will offer your taste buds new experiences.
Chef Michelle Lisa of Rowena’s Inn is creating chocolate influenced savouries and sweets. This intimate seminar for 25 people, held at the delightful Mackin Heritage House and Toy Museum in Coquitlam, on October 14, afternoon, is not one to be missed.
Black Cloud Pinot Noir
Hand-crafted, limited-edition Pinot Noir. Wine making in this style is nicknamed “les garagistes” in some circles; each wine is allowed to define itself in a more natural expression of the grape. Black Cloud’s first wine was the 2006 Pinot Noir, hand-picked in Okanagan Falls and carefully fermented to extract the full power of the grape. 2008 Altostratus – Elegant in the nose with hints of clove, cracked nut shells and berry fruit, the palate expresses bright, lively cherry and raspberry. Balanced textures and long evolving finish. $27.99
Desert Hills Merlot – 2007 Merlot($24.90) # 206110
Deep-colored, full bodied with black currant, black berry, black cherry, toasty, cloves and vanilla. Decant for an hour before serving.
Rollingdale Pinot Noir Icewine– Pinot Noir “Sweet Tooth Series” Certified Organic Icewine 2007 (200 ml bottle) $29.99
The certified organic Pinot Noir grapes used to produce this wine were grown on the Westside of Kelowna. The grapes matured in the sunny Okanagan Valley were left to freeze to death for your selfish pleasure. A nose of peaches and cream, apricots and jasmine with a flavour of creamy strawberry custard. Bracing acidity with a deliciously long finish.
Raven’s Ridge Iced Cider
The Braeburn iced cider is lively and complex. The crisp sweetness of this highly regarded apple lends itself perfectly to the iced cider. Enjoy with strong cheese or bittersweet chocolates. 11% alc/vol. 200ml or 375ml
Vinsera “Port-Style” Dessert Wine (non vintage) $19.99 (375 ml)
2007 marks the first year for our highly awaited “Vinsera”; a delicious and rich fortified wine made from 100% Saturna Island estate grown Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. This fortified wine has the typical nutty and butterscotch essences of port wine, with a rounded smoothness and full body. Oak aging enhances the toffee and caramel flavours and aromas. This wine is an excellent accompaniment to cream-based desserts such as berry cheesecake, or classic crème brulee. Vinsera can also be served chilled, and enjoyed with toasted toasted almonds, pecans, and pistachio nuts.
Some combinations to look forward to over the next few weeks:
White Chocolate Bar – With 30% cocoa content offered a truly creamy, ultra buttery, packed with vanilla-bean – white chocolate experience. As for wine varietals that paired well with this chocolate – we found that a big, buttery Chardonnay really melded well with the butter and vanilla content of the bar. Also a lighter weight sparkling rosé Spumante did a beautiful job of bringing out the bar’s vanilla content, while adding it’s own raspberry flavour to the mix. Surprisingly, we also found that a bold Zinfandel actually brought about a really fun contrast pairing opportunity with the white chocolate. The white chocolate had a softening affect on the Zin’s tannins and the Zin accented the chocolate’s vanilla.
Premium Milk Chocolate – With a cocoa content of 34%, allowed for a little more strength of character and flavour than your “average” milk chocolate. This bar of chocolate offered a lot of pairing flexibility. It partnered well with Cabernet Sauvignon and a rosé sparkling wine. It also had pretty good pairing potential with a 10 Year Tawny Port.
Caramel and Chocolate bar – there is the sweet, but it also has a touch of salt to offset the potential for “oversweet” brought about by the caramel content. This caramel, chocolate combination paired very well with a Pinot Noir. The silky, smooth texture of the chocolate and the same texture combination of the Pinot Noir brought both the flavours of the chocolate and the wine to the next level.
Dark Chocolate – (55% cocoa) and orange was complemented best by a citrus-driven, off-dry Riesling wine. The Riesling’s tropical, citrus flavours of orange and lemon along with a background note of spice and lemon zest really captured the orange of the chocolate – elevating both the wine and the chocolate.
Espresso and Dark Chocolate – This bar of chocolate, with a 67% cocoa content and coffee beans to boot, brings some serious tannins to the table, we knew we were in for a serious red wine combo. The red wines that offered the best pairing combinations were not surprisingly an accommodating California Pinot Noir and a no non-sense Cabernet Sauvignon. Both wines were able to pick up the mocha mix in the chocolate, by bringing it into a slightly sweeter palate setting. One taster noticed a “splash of sweetness” as soon as the wine was in contact with the chocolate.
Dark 70% Chocolate – Pairing dark chocolate with wine is always a fun quest! This 70% dark presented best with the Cabernet Sauvignon and the runner up was the Pinot Noir. The Zinfandel was a “no go,” just too much power competition on the palate. The Cab contributed the dark red fruit that was well supported by the slightly bitter chocolate input.
A few thoughts: By Stacey Slinkard
Some say it can’t be done, pairing wine with chocolate, but if you have the right wine to complement the right chocolate it can be a match made in heaven! Whether you are pairing a delicate white chocolate or a lively dark chocolate with wine, there are a few pairing tips to keep in mind.
Tips for Successfully Pairings Wines with Chocolate
Rule #1, typically the wine should be at least as sweet, if not a touch sweeter, than the chocolate you are serving it with. Otherwise, the taste may quickly veer towards bitter or sour.
When pairing wines with chocolate, your best bet is to match lighter, more elegant flavoured chocolates with lighter-bodied wines; likewise, the stronger the chocolate, the more full-bodied the wine should be. For example, a bittersweet chocolate tends to pair well with an intense, in-your-face California Zinfandel. Similar to “formal” wine tasting, if you will be experimenting with several varieties of chocolates, work from light to dark. Start with a more subtle white chocolate and end on a dark or bittersweet chocolate.
White Chocolate Wine Suggestions
White chocolate tends to be more mellow and buttery in flavour, making it an ideal candidate for a Sherry, for a Moscato d’Asti, from Italy’s Piedmont region offers subtle, sweet bubbles, or an Orange Muscat. The Sherry and Moscato d’Asti will pick up the creaminess of the chocolates and the Orange Muscat will pick up any fruit tones on the scene.
Another route, for pairing wine with white chocolate is going for the contrast pairing approach, this is a little riskier, but when you find a match it can be exceptional. For example, taking a wine like a Zinfandel which tends to have a heavier tannic content and often a higher alcohol level and partnering it with a creamy, buttered white chocolate can have an unusual “melding” affect. It’s like the tannins get softened out by the fat content and make for a remarkable potential for pairing.
Milk Chocolate Wine Suggestions
Pinot Noir (you might consider Mark West Pinot Noir $10) or a lighter-bodied Merlot (try Hogue or Columbia Crest) will complement a bar of milk chocolate, a creamy chocolate mousse or chocolate accented cheesecake. Rieslings, Muscats (try Bonny Doon’s Muscat Vin de Glaciere or the Bonny Doon “Vin de Glaciere” Muscat for $15) or dessert wines tend to hold up well to mild milk chocolates. Also consider a sparkling wine or Champagne for pairing with milk chocolate dipped strawberries. Last, but not least a classic milk chocolate pairing to consider is a nice Ruby Port – a very safe bet when looking for a perfect wine to accent milk chocolate.
Dark Chocolate Wine Suggestions
Dark or bittersweet chocolates need a wine that offers a roasted, slightly robust flavour itself, with perhaps a hint of its own chocolate notes. Cabs and Zinfandels have a history of perfecting the dark chocolate match, resulting in an unparalleled tasting combination. A Cabernet Sauvignon or a Zinfandel (try Ancient Peaks Zinfandel), Rancho Zabaco or Ridge) will more than fill your chocolate pairing expectations. Also consider a Pinot Noir or a Merlot to handle dark chocolate around the 55% cocoa mark. Finally, give a Tawny or Vintage Port a go to offer a very well balanced pairing approach to a dark chocolate dessert or truffle.
The Do-it-Yourself Approach to Pairing Wines and Chocolate
If you are looking for an easy and inexpensive, Do-it-Yourself way to experiment with wine and chocolate pairings, simply picking up a few bars of premium chocolate is a good way to start. By taking a “mix and match” approach to finding your own personal palate preferences when it comes to pairing wine and chocolate, you’ll gain “hands-on” knowledge of which wines really complement which chocolate combinations. By opening eight bars of chocolate along with a few bottles of wine we were able to take each chocolate through a series of wine pairings to see which combinations rose to the top. This is just a starting point; the combinations could be almost unlimited when you start to shake up not only varietals, but vintages and producers.
Join us at the West Coast Chocolate Festival – always fabulous, always fun