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Food Pairings, Wines18 January 2018

Chocolate & Wine

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Food Pairings, Wines18 January 2018

Chocolate & Wine

Many purists will flatly deny that there is an acceptable match for wine and chocolate. The intense sweetness of chocolate and its ability to decimate the taste buds make matching with a wine a sticky proposition, and the sweeter the chocolate, the harder this becomes. Although we have long been tricked into believing this is true, and with most menus featuring chocolate desserts, here are some recommendations that are capable of standing up to those powerful flavours:

Sweet Sparkling Wines

Asti Spumante, Italy or Rumours Moscato, Australia

Wines made from the Muscat/Moscato grape (e.g. Asti), tend to have the required aromatic intensity and sweetness to pair with chocolate desserts.

Fortified Wines

Elysium Black Muscat, California or Campbell’s Ruthglen Muscat, Australia.

These wines have the concentration, weight and sweetness to deal with all things chocolate.

Sweet Sherries

Triana Pedro Ximenez, Javier Hidalgo, Spain.

This treacle style sherry works wonders with chocolate, but don’t expect to be able to move from your table for a while after this taste bud explosion.

New World Dry Red Wines

Ironstone Old Vine Zinfandel, California or Esk Valley Merlot-Cabernet-Malbec, New Zealand.

When using chocolate in all things savoury the choice can be widened to powerful, dry red wines, such as a Zinfandel or a Merlot blend. A certain touch of bitterness, earthy qualities and the roasted notes of dry reds from a warm-climate, that pack a punch, match the characteristics of the chocolate itself.

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Food Pairings, Wines28 December 2017

Wine & Cheese

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Food Pairings, Wines28 December 2017

Wine & Cheese

Cheese and wine are a match made in heaven, if you get them right! We have a bit of a port & Stilton hangover in the UK and assume we should drink a big red wine with cheese but in fact, in many cases, white wine would work better, especially for more delicate or complex cheeses.

Blue, stinky, soft, hard, creamy, salty, fresh, aged – the styles go on and on! And each needs style needs it own wine pairing to really get the best from the combo.

When we food and wine match, our aim is to balance and complement both parts. Cheese is basically fat and acidity so we need something that will cut through the fat and balance the acidity; white wines will usually do this better than reds. Of course there are exceptions, where big strong flavours need to pair with the same, and don’t forget personal preference, so here’s a few ideas of what will work well together:

Ricotta (and other light, fresh cheeses)

Fresh cheeses are light and delicate so look for the same in your wine pairing. Miopasso Pinot Grigio or Divici Prosecco Spumante, both from Italy (albeit different ends of the country) would be an ideal match. Light in body with a fresh acidity to cleanse the pallet.

Goats’ Cheese

The Loire Valley in France is famed for its Chevre cheese made from Goat’s milk. It’s also highly respected for Sauvignon Blanc – a great example of this region’s elegant take on this grape variety is Haut Poitou Sauvignon Blanc from Marcel Martin.

Manchego

Here again there’s an affinity because they are made in the same place. If it grows with it, it goes with it! Floral, aromatic and complex Mas Buscados Macabeo, Spain pairs well with the oily, fruity Manchego Spanish Ewe’s cheese.

Epoisses (or other stinky/runny cheese)

The ultimate food and wine pairing would be Epoisses with Meursault 1er Cru, Château de Blagny, Louis Latour – both from Burgundy. Funnily enough the two are towns not that far away from each other, so it’s no surprise that the rich, heady, toasty wine is an ideal companion to this smelly, ripe, unctuous cheese.

Brie & Camembert

A Chablis would work well but the rustic twang of the cheese lends itself to a light, savoury red such as Pinot Noir, Hahn Winery, USA.

Cheddar (the stronger the better)

If it’s red you’re after, the True Zin Zinfandel  from Italy is a must. It’s dry, yet juicy style and smoky undertones really bring out the richness of the cheese.

Gorgonzola (and other creamy blues)

Botrytis white. We always talk about complementing with food and wine but here’s an example of where the opposite applies. The sweet Botrytis Semillon Vat 5 De Bortoli, Australia and salty cheese counteract each other, creating a dance of flavour for the palate.

 

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