Bev and I chat about 5 to-die-for wine and chocolate pairings on Canada AM.
Bev: Valentine’s Day is famous for flowers and romance and decadence. Mix in a little vino and a sweet treat and you’ve got quite a celebration.
Natalie MacLean is the author of Unquenchable. She’s an expert when it comes to wine pairings, and this morning she’s in our studio to help us choose fine wine and chocolate combinations. Which is so perfect. Does it get any better than that?
Natalie: No, especially if you like to layer your vices. So, don’t just have wine or chocolate. Combine them.
Bev: And it is amazing, because different types of chocolate, whether dark or light, it actually does make a difference what wine you’re having it wine, and the flavors; how they go together.
Natalie: Absolutely. And it’s so fun to experiment. So, if we look at Canadian icewine, one of our iconic producers, Inniskillin, I think that, you know, as a solid bar of chocolate might overwhelm the icewine, but chocolate-dipped biscotti is perfect.
Natalie: Right? Just a lick of chocolate. Because in the icewine, we’ve got citrus flavors, but it’s not full-on like a Port would be, in terms of the alcohol and the dark purple flavors.
Bev: So the icewine with biscotti. OK.
Natalie: Absolutely. But if we keep moving on, we go to Port, which I think is. . .
Bev: . . . so much heavier, much fuller.
Natalie: Fuller. Higher alcohol, because it’s a fortified wine. So, it will almost melt the chocolate in your mouth, so you get that mouth-coating texture.
Bev: It’s not going to overpower?
Natalie: No. The rule with desserts, all desserts, including chocolate, is make sure that the wine is sweeter than the dessert. OK? Or the wine will taste bitter by comparison. So, with Port, you’ve got that extra degree of sweetness, the extra degree of alcohol, so it can really stand up to the flavors of chocolate.
Bev: So, what kind of chocolate with that then?
Natalie: I would go with a dark chocolate, almost a bitter chocolate, would be just lovely. We’ve got Amarone, which is a dry, full-bodied red wine from Italy. I’ve chosen the Masi. And I think it also works with dark chocolate. Dark chocolate doesn’t have a lot of sugar. It doesn’t have a lot of dairy content. So it’s probably the easiest chocolate to match with wine.
Bev: OK. And then this is another icewine or what?
Natalie: No, this is a Framboise, and it’s also from Ontario. So, the basis for Framboise is raspberries. So, fruit wines are wines made with fruit other than grapes. Because we’ve got grapes in all of these. This is raspberries, and so you can imagine it goes well with any chocolate dessert that combines fruit, like a raspberry or a strawberry.
Bev: I don’t know Framboise. Is it thick like an icewine? Is it. . .
Natalie: It’s not high-alcohol and it’s not as thick as Port. And it’s certainly not as alcoholic as Port. But it’s just beautiful when you combine those fruit and flavors that you often find in chocolate desserts, like a Black Forest cake would be just gorgeous.
Bev: Oh, nice. And then this one over here.
Natalie: Tokaji. This comes from Hungary. And what I like about Tokaji is it has sort of a buttery velvet texture and flavor. And so it goes beautifully with milk chocolate.
Milk chocolate is harder to match with wine, because you’ve got the higher dairy content, it’s sweeter, so it’s tougher on wine. But if you get a wine that has those textures and flavors, that buttery richness, you’ve got a “killing me softly” combination.
Bev: So, this is really; I mean, this is your dessert. The reason why people want dessert in the first place is because they really have that sweet tooth.
They want to have something after a meal. You could serve just different types of chocolate with a wine and the wine would be your dessert wine. That would be a perfect dessert.
Natalie: Oh, absolutely. It would be a great finish, I think, to a romantic dinner or just romance on its own by the fire, if you can imagine pouring a little of this, having a little nibble of that.
Bev: This is your new book Unquenchable. And in here you go through finding all kinds of wines at really great prices.
Natalie: Absolutely. I went around the world to all kinds of regions, from Australia to Niagara to Italy and what I was looking for are wines that sort of outperform their price points. So, really delicious. But that you just don’t have to pay more than, say, fifteen, twenty dollars.
Bev: I hate to use the word “bargain,” but it really sounds like bargain wine.
Natalie: Like when you find a Versace jacket in a warehouse and it’s marked down to ten percent. You can find great quality and you don’t have to overpay for it.
Bev: Natalie, thank you so much. Happy Valentine’s.
Natalie: Happy Valentine’s Day, and I’ve put more matches on my site, at NatalieMacLean.
Bev: And we’re going to have that as well. We’ve posted Natalie’s chocolate and wine pairings online.
Here are my top 10 matches to give you some more wines for your sweetie:
- Dark Chocolate and Masi Costasera Classico Amarone, Italy.
- Chocolate-Covered Biscotti and Henry of Pelham Vidal Icewine, Niagara.
- Chocolate-Orange Cake and Quinta de Ventozelo Reserva Ruby Port, Portugal.
- Chocolate with Nuts and Fonseca Bin No 27 Port, Portugal.
- Milk Chocolate and Puklus Pinceszet Tokaji, Hungary.
- Bittersweet Chocolate and La Pieve Barolo, Italy.
- Chocolate-Dipped Fruit and Inniskillin Wines Vidal Icewine, Niagara.
- Chocolate Ganache Truffles and Château Guiraud Sauternes, Bordeaux, France.
- Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake and Southbrook Vineyards Framboise, Ontario.
- Chocolate Hearts with Cream Filling and Sandeman Rich Cream Sherry, Spain.
For more articles with pairing tips, click on the words “Chocolate & Wine” below.
Posted with permission of Canada AM.