Sunday, June 22, 2014

Books and Wine | Second Annual Wine Pairing Event - Chocolate & Wine Edition

Hey friends,

I had a blast indulging in chocolate and wine yesterday.  Great conversation. Great wine. Great Chocolate.

Last year we paired a coursed meal and wine. This year our book club founder and organizer decided to pair only chocolate and wine instead of a full spread. She did an outstanding job organizing and selecting the chocolates and wine. Her table was so cute and had an Tuscan feel to it. I recommend this type of themed event, it was a great experience.

We tried three Lindt chocolates; white chocolate, milk chocolate, dark chocolate, and dark chocolate with caramel bits and a touch sea salt and six wines; three white and three red.   There were also french bread, green apples and three cheese options: Brie, Parmesan and Gouda. These additional items really helped with not only cleansing the pallet, but also were wonderful with several of the wines.

Unlike last year's wine event book selection, a majority of us enjoyed the book this time. Which lead to some fun and lively conversation.

Back to the tasting, my favorites by far were the two dark chocolate selections with the last two red wines. They tasted amazing together.

Review time! What did I think of the chocolates and wines?  Here's my run down. Let's start with the wines. They are in the order that we tasted them.

1. Stella Mia Moscato d'Asti - This is one seriously sweet wine.  With a low 5.5% alcohol level and calorie count on the side of the bottle, this wasn't very appealing to me. It was so sweet that in my opinion, it didn't taste good with either the cheese or the white chocolate and was my least favorite. This may be a fun wine non-wine drinkers or those that just like really sweet wines. Regular price $13.99 | Sale price $8.99.

2. Chateau Ste. Michelle Harvest Select Sweet Riesling - It's crisp and refreshing. While at 10.5%, this wine is still sweet, but not over powering.  I could drink this just because. No food required.  Unlike the last wine, this was good with the Brie cheese, not so much with the white chocolate. On a side note, while I didn't think this was overly sweet when I first tasted it, I did find it extremely sweet after I came back and drank more of this after the other dryer wines.  Regular price $11.99 (not on sale).

3. The Naked Grape Chardonnay - This a middle of the road wine. Not sweet but not utterly dry either. This wine was paired with milk chocolate. I'm not fan of white wine and milk chocolate. I prefer the Gouda and french bread with it.  The wine went wonderfully with that. This is also a great wine for a light meal. I probably wouldn't drink this on it's own. Regular price $10.99 | Sale price $6.99

4. Mark West Pinot Noir - This wine was also paired with milk chocolate. This was my 2nd least favorite wine. It wasn't horrible, but it also didn't really meld with the chocolate.  The Parmesan did cut the dryness a bit, which made it more palatable.  On the flip side, I do think this would be better with heavier food, like a burger.  Regular price $14.99 | Sale price $9.89

5. Robert Mondabi Private Selection Cabernet Sauvignon - This was a pretty heavy and intense wine. I found that the oak flavor was very strong, and being that I don't enjoy a lot of oak, I found this hard to drink on it's own. Luckily I did really enjoy this with the dark chocolates. The dark chocolates really saved this wine. This would be another wine that I wouldn't drink alone, but maybe it would be good with some lamb.
Regular price $15.49 | Sale Price $8.99

6. Layer Cake Shiraz - The Shiraz was pretty good. There was an light oak flavor, but not too much. I wouldn't have even thought to pick this one up on my own, but it really is amazing with the dark chocolates. It was so good with them that I didn't even bother trying the wine with cheese. While it is a very dry wine coming in at 14.9% alcohol, it was very smooth.  I would never serve this as a sipping wine, but I would with an Italian, heavier meal with red meat or polar oppositely, as dessert with really good dark chocolate.
Regular price $17.49 | Sale price $13.49

Now onto the chocolates!

1. Lindt White Chocolate - I don't eat much white chocolate. Not that I don't like it per say, it's just really sweet for my taste. While this chocolate was smooth and rich, I didn't find that it was a peanut butter and jelly pairing with wine.  I preferred the cheeses with both the wines paired with it.

2. Lindt Milk Chocolate - We tried one white and one red with this chocolate. In full disclosure, I haven't liked milk chocolate since high school. It's extremely sweet and didn't really pop with either of the two wines selected for it.

3. Lindt Dark Chocolate - Simple, smooth and delicious. I'm a dark chocolate fan, so this was right up my alley.The chocolate was very tasty with both the Cabernet Sauvignon and the Shiraz.

4. Lindt Excellence Dark Chocolate Caramel with a touch of Sea Salt - Personally, I felt that this chocolate was the star of the show. The crunch of the caramel was a nice surprise. I expected a smooth caramel, but I enjoyed the bits throughout. It really melded well with the lightly sprinkled sea salt.  The chocolate was amazing and was a perfect pair with both the Cabernet Sauvignon and the Shiraz. The sharp sweetness of the caramel and salt really cut the dryness of the wines and brought out the grapes. Just amazing.

Have you ever tried chocolate with wine? If so, what's your favorite combination?

Bon appetit!

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