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From Vine to Valentine

chocolate Gifts valentines wine

With Valentine’s Day fast approaching and Easter only a month or two away, Chocolate has once again risen on the agenda for those who enjoy a post Christmas treat. Chocolate and wine however is a more unusual combination, with many wine writers and broadcasters insisting that wine and chocolate are not naturally suited partners.

I am most certainly not of this opinion, being involved in both sides of the coin with my hat on as managing director and buyer for Barrels and Bottles, along with my other hat as director of Coghlans, the cookery school with its own range of luxury hand made truffles and a fresh chocolate counter at its Sheepbridge based location.

The secret to success in matching wine and chocolate is very simple. The higher the cocoa content, the richer and darker the wine to match with it. A chocolate containing 50% cocoa works extremely well with full bodied white wines, perhaps something with a hint of spice such as gewürztraminer from the Alsace, such as Michel Fonne Gewurztraminer AC, a full on Chardonnay with a hint of Oak such as Chablis 1er Cru or even lighter red wines with a low acidity such as a soft Merlot from Chile , La Conde Merlot or a Grenache from the South of France such as Chateau Elisabeth Ac Costieres de Nimes which combines the flavours of red and black berries with a hint of spice on the finish.

A higher Cocoa content demands a different flavour match. Take a 60% cocoa content and the bitterness of the chocolate increases and the sugar content decreases. This level of wine can cope with more acidity but still not too much tannin, the natural chemical which occurs in wine. Hence grape varieties such as Pinot Noir particularly from Burgundy or New Zealand, Tempranillo from Spain, Castillo de Almansa Reserva or a rich and creamy Nebbiolo or BARBERA from Tuscany.

Moving to a higher cocoa content again the grape varieties suited change again and 75 to 80% cocoa demands a powerful rich spiced red wine such as Shiraz or Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec or Carmenere. Wines from Chile are particularly good with the bitter chocolate and my favorite example is Casa Lapostolle Santa Alvara Cabernet Sauvignon, from young vines in this private estate owned by the Grand Marnier and the Louis Roederer Champagne house, so real French aristocracy with great quality New World fruit. You could also try Murphy’s Shiraz from New South Wales, made by Tony Murphy from County Cork, a family synonymous with stout rather than wine, but this shiraz is deliciously rich and velvety with a hint of red and black pepper on the finish and seems to balance the bitter sweet flavour of a really dark chocolate.

Those thinking towards Valentine gifts should look past the difficulties of matching Champagne and Chocolate in favour of enjoying the brownie points of remembering to buy their loved one a memorable gift. How about a bottle of Canard Duchene Rose, with a red fruit and white flowers aroma combined with a box of Coghlans hand made Kir Royal Truffles, perfect for that romantic evening. Wine and chocolate is a personal taste. Experiment with the combinations that work for your own palate, or even come along to a make and taste session at the cookery school and find out more about the chocolate and wine combination.

Article by Andrew Coghlan : Elite Magazine

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