News and views | Is red wine a good match for chocolate?

News and views

Is red wine a good match for chocolate?

I’ve never totally bought into the idea but a recent wine and chocolate tasting put on by Australian Wine at Australia House in London went halfway to convincing me.

They put together a number of pairings with chocolates from Rococo who make some of the most delicious chocolates in London.

First off we actually tried two dry whites, a De Bortoli PHI Chardonnay, Yarra Valley 2007 which was paired with a Chocolate: Sea Salt Wafer and a 2011 Skillogalee Gewürztraminer, Clare Valley with a Chocolate: Rose Ganache.

The first was a case of ‘you could but why would you?’ There are so many other delicious things to drink with a classy chardonnay like that. I just found myself dreaming of scallops. The Gewürztraminer was more interesting though, really picking up on the rose flavours in the chocolate. I could get used to that . . .

Next two big reds, the 2008 d’Arenberg The Custodian Grenache from McLaren Vale 2008 with a Red Berry Ganache and a 2009 Mitolo GAM Shiraz with a Chocolate Blackcurrant and Violet Ganache. These both worked, amazingly, though I felt the almost porty 15% Mitolo had the edge. And again it was lovely with the filling.

We then moved on to two more conventional choices, the pretty Innocent Bystander Moscato with a really unusual White chocolate Cardamom and Saffron Ganache and Brown Brothers 2009 Orange Muscat and Flora, Victoria with a Mango, Passion Fruit and Orange Ganache.

Oddly these didn’t work as well for me. The orange flavours in the chocolate knocked out the same flavours in the Muscat and at 5.5% the Moscato was just a bit light for such a rich, exotic chocolate. But I took a sip of the Skillagolee Gewürztraminer with it which was terrific. I can imagine a slightly sweeter Gewürz being an amazing match for these flavours.

And finally, more familiar territory - a couple of ‘stickies’, the Campbells Classic Rutherglen Muscat with a Pecan and Spice Praline and a rich, toffeed Grant Burge 10 year old Tawny NV with a Coffee and Cardamom Marzipan chocolate - both cracking pairings but as I don’t have a particularly sweet tooth I preferred the Grant Burge.

Pushing the boundaries of food and wine matching is always fun but doesn’t quite take into account how much mood is tied up with chocolate. If you had a gorgeous bottle of Chardonnay would you eat chocolate with it? Or would you hand chocolates round with the Shiraz at a dinner party? I suspect not.

That said, it worked better than I thought it would and the very original character of the chocolates with their exotic, spicy, floral fillings made it a hedonistic experience by any standards. Food for thought and a bit more experimentation here.


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