Zin’ful Chocolate Pairing

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Sinful? No Chocolate

Ever felt like being Zin’ful? Not the same as the ‘S’ word, more like an extra step towards indulgence in the really good way! Summer is upon us, as our waistlines, so if we are going to cheer each other on in the race to keep the inches off, but still eat good foods and drink good wines, we have to cut back on what we are putting in our mouths right?

Well to keep the Fun! in my food blog each week, I make it light on sugar, low on fat, but big on flavor, and then invite a few friends over to cheer me on. Right there is a good excuse to have a chocolate and wine pairing party! Lets get everyone involved.

First do some planning in order to have a successful pairing, party, or whatever we will call it.

A Cabernet Sauvignon or a Zinfandel (try Ancient Peaks Zinfandel), Rancho Zabaco or Ridge) will more than fill your chocolate pairing expectations, and there are some out there at a great price! Zinfandel has to be my all time favorite to pair with high-end dark chocolate. Wilson out of California is at the top of that list I keep hidden away in my heart.

A few ideas for pairing wines with chocolate-

My first suggestion is, before you begin any tasting if it is dessert related, and after attending a chocolate-wine tasting a few years back…ask what, if any food is going to be served. If not, then go out and eat a light dinner, or serve your company some light (nothing heavy or rich, that is the chocolates job) so they have food in their tummies. We were starving after the tasting and it ended around 10 PM!

  • Do your homework- find the chocolates first, just as you would pick your ingredients, seasonings, and sauces for your wine- pick your wines second. Don’t skimp on the chocolates either!
  • Then begin to taste the chocolates with wine- this might seem daunting, but many expert wine educators have tried the foods and wines way before they teach the classes- no one wants to bite into a good piece of chocolate and then have a sip of wine, ruining the whole experience.
  • Talk to your wine retailers, get their suggestions- ask friends if they have any favorites.
  • If you are going to step outside the box- pair a spicy chilie chocolate from Mexico with a south American wine, or fruit laden filled chocolates with in your face fruit wines whose tasting notes detect hints of chocolate, blueberries, cherries, or mixed berries.
  • In order to find the right wine for the right chocolate you will want to go light to heavy, and sweet to heavy-bodied.
  • The more elegant flavor the chocolate- the lighter-bodied wines work best.
  • The stronger the chocolate- try a more full-bodied wine.

For example, a bittersweet chocolate tends to pair well with an intense and in-your-face California Zinfandel, and there is where you will find my taste buds! I am all about deep, dark and intense like my recipe for this dark cacao brownie cake- little sugar, more chocolate punch to each bite!

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.

Oh and want to make it even more fun? Have them bring their favorite chocolate and just be prepared with some wines and see which ones they like- Yes, have a blind tasting and take a vote! Your friends WILL thank you…

Chef Elizabeth Stelling Restaurant & Wine Writer, Food ~ Wine ~ Fun!

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