The Vines of Mendoza

Chocolate and Wine at The Vines


The Vines of Mendoza Chocolate and Wine PairingsSo I was like most people, dubious at best, about the pairing of chocolate with different wines. However, to my surprise there are numerous combinations that are delectable and exciting, while others are fairly horrid. Working with Chrissie Bettencourt, a native of Canada who is our resident chocolatier, we had the laborious task of distinguishing which wines and chocolates had that perfect chemistry, that magical interaction of molecules that enhance the taste buds and make your eyes wide with sensory recognition.

We are pleased to present these combinations at our Chocolate and Wine pairing event tonight at The Vines of Mendoza Tasting Room, just in time for Valentine's Day. For a sneak peak on one of the combinations we are offering 25% off our Amauta blend from bodega El Porvenir- (this wine is an awesome find from the northern province of Salta and one of my current favs)
But in the meantime we would like to share some tips that are very important when deciding upon your own chocolate decandence. Let us know if you find some pairings of your own that simply should not be missed!

How to Buy Chocolate


1.       Cocoa Butter: Buy chocolate that has cocoa butter and not “non-cocoa butter fats”.  (ie:  butter oil, milk fat, partially hydrogenated oils etc.) 


2.       Fresh Chocolate: Buy chocolate from a chocolate maker rather than the supermarket. 


3.       Cocoa= Quality:  Make sure that the first ingredient listed on the wrapper is cocoa (cacao).  This can also be called cocoa liquor, chocolate liquor or cocoa mass. 


4.       Vanilla:  If vanilla is listed, look for one that uses natural vanilla instead of extract.  Vanilla extract often masks or overpowers other flavours in the chocolate.  It also often leaves a distinct chemical flavour in the mouth. 


How to store chocolate


·         Chocolate should be stored between 60F (16C) and 68F (20C).

·         Try not to let the chocolate be subjected to oxygen or humidity.


How to pair wine and chocolate


1.       Experiment, experiment, experiment:  there are many guidelines out there on what chocolate should be paired with what wine, there really are no set rules.  One 70% chocolate can be totally different from another 70% chocolate, therefore affecting how it matches with the wine.  Have some fun with the tasting and this way you will be surprised at what unanticipated results you will come out with!


2.       Complements and Contrasts:  Start with the basics, complements and contrasts in flavours.  Complements= red wine + dark chocolate and white wine + milk chocolate.  Contrasts = red wine + milk chocolate and white wine + dark chocolate. 


3.       Familiarity:  Start off with either wines you know and like or chocolates you know and like.  Having one half of the pairing already familiar to you will make it easier to figure out what works and what doesn’t.


4.       Taste:  First taste the wines and chocolate individually and separately.  Don’t worry about picking out specific flavours, instead focus on whether the wine or chocolate is acidic, tannic, fruity, spicy etc.  What kind of finish does it have? These are the basics in pairing to ensure there will be a harmony in the mouth and not a battle of flavours. 


5.       Use a “many to one” approach:  To make things simpler and also easier on your palate, pair either one chocolate with three or four different types of wines, or one wine with three or four different types of chocolates. 


6.       Start with general and then go to specific:  Some questions to ask yourself as you are going through the pairing:


a.       Do I like the pairing?

b.       Does the wine make the chocolate taste better or worse?  (the acidity in the wine made the chocolate aftertaste unpleasant)

c.        Does the chocolate make the wine taste better or worse?  (making the wine taste bitter or sour)


7.       Whites:  Semi dry white wines such as Torrontés Riojano, Viogner, a demi sec sparkling or a late harvest.

8.       Reds:  Wines with a good structure and soft tannins. Some varietals such as Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. Also Port Style reds.


(Info based on book by Clay Gordon, “Discover Chocolate” with a touch of Chrissie and Mariana.)

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