My favorite food products are fermented: wine, beer, chocolate, and bread. Honestly, I LOVE fermentation. The smell of yeast is better than the smell of baked bread, for sure. The rawness of it, the fact that it’s a living creature makes it even more exciting.
Tonight we were invited to a Wine and Chocolate Pairing at El Catador, where I took my wine course last month. My friend Francys and I attended; being both in the food service industry, we both love learning more and more about food, beverages and the process being our products.
Remember Kah Kow, the chocolate I reviewed last month? Well, they were the ones being paired with the wines you see listed in the picture below. I can tell you all about the pairings but like all pairings, they’re really up to you. I prefer recommending you to purchase some chocolates, a few bottles of wine and making a party out of it!
How To: Get a few friends together and assign each one a cacao percentage chocolate bar and a grape varietal. This could be up to the friend or you could provide a list of common wines that are paired with chocolate. They can purchase any brand, or even better, purchasing the same percentage from two different brands and comparing them against the same wine!
Setting the Stage: Have fun with decorations or keep it simple! Make sure to have enough glassware for everyone to taste each wine, as well as napkins, plates and water pitchers to cleanse your palate between pairings. You can get wine tasting charts online or make your own, but these will be helpful in guiding your tasting. Check out this lovely tasting chart I found on Google here.You can print off a few and hand out for each wine pairing!
- Pair light-bodied wines with low percentage chocolates; pair more robust or fortified wines with higher percentage bars.
- Normally ‘pairings’ are made to pair similar items. If your wine is nutty, typically it’ll be paired with a wine with nutty-toasty undertones. Try to also pair with contrasting flavors, which can balance each other out beautifully.
- Whether you taste the wine or the chocolate first, make sure to have them at the same time at some point in your mouth. Swirl the wine around a piece of chocolate, bite off a chunk, let the chocolate melt into the wine with your body heat. Which flavors predominate? Which flavors are you surprised to distinguish? Does the chocolate overpower the wine? Try a more robust-flavored wine. Do you just taste harsh tannins and no chocolate? Pair with a lighter wine.
Chocolate Tasting Guidelines (No, it’s not just chewing it!) “Chocolate is a noble product” said Massimiliano Wax, our Chocolate expert for the night at El Catador. So, as any noble product, it deserves respect. Respect because this is a natural product from the Earth, harvested by human hands and time, labor and effort were put into creating this noble bar. Here are a few general steps to follow when tasting chocolate:
- Smell it! Mr. Wax pointed out that you should smell cacao. Obvious, but some chocolate producers pump their chocolates with flavorings such as Vanilla and this overpowers the chocolate. If you smell Vanilla, get a new bar. You want to smell pure chocolate, earthy tones.
- Look at it! Is it even? The color normally signifies the amount of cacao in it, and you’ll also be looking for uneven streaks (not a nice temper).
- Snap it! Chocolate that has been correctly tempered and stored will have snap. When you break a piece, you’ll hear it. Does your chocolate bend when you break a piece of? Then this bar was either incorrectly tempered or has been stored at high (or low) temperatures, causing it to lose any temper. Snap!
- Taste it! Bite it, let it melt in your mouth. I had a Chef make us try our desserts by chewing with our mouths open. Although not the most educated way to chew, this incorporates air into your chocolate and develops the flavors. Now, don’t go and tell your Mother I said to chew with your mouth open! Be discreet!
Hope you start planning a Chocolate and Wine party soon! You can send my invitation to marnely
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