Imagine several bottles of wine, a spread of chocolates, and a group of friends gathered around a kitchen or dining table, all ready to enjoy a cozy evening together.
We’ve hosted several events just like this, where one of our chocolate-makers designs an adventure for the palate and guides a tasting in the home. The good news is that you can design your own, with a little wine knowledge and a little help from us here at ChocoVivo.
Step 1: The Wine List:
We recommend choosing your wines first because there can be such huge variation in the palates of different wines. Each chocolate could potentially pair with hundreds of wines of different varietals that happen to share a similar flavor note, but each wine may only have one or two chocolate mates.
We have paired chocolate with wines of all types before, but reds usually pair with chocolate the best, followed by whites then sparkling wines. Consider dessert wines, fortified wines, and other unique wines for a more interesting experience. Just keep in mind when choosing wines that chocolate is a big bold flavor, and it can easily overwhelm a very delicate wine.
Step 2: The Pairing
This is where these events can become a little confusing, because it’s difficult to know how to pair wines without an in-depth knowledge of wine tasting. If you have trouble, feel free to stop by our store for a few pointers, and if you’ve decided the process is not for you, you can hand off the pairing to us for a small fee.
Generally, if you have not yet tasted the wine, you can pull a description of the wine off of the winery’s website or from a review of the wine. Here’s a sample description for a wine we paired recently:
Lafage; Cotes du Roussillon Villages; South France; Grenache & Syrah; 2014
Lots of black raspberry, chocolate covered currants, pepper and olive notes giving way to a full-bodied 2014; it has polished tannin and a seamless texture. A blend of 70% Grenache and 30% Syrah that was aged mostly in concrete tanks.
We paired this with our Shangri-La chocolate, which is a 55% dark chocolate with goji berries and black sesame. The fruity notes of the Lafage pair well with the sweetness of goji berries, and those olive notes add saltiness that pairs well with the nuttiness of black sesame.
Use your intuition- if two flavors sound good together, go ahead and pair them.
Step 3: The Style
Will your guests move at their own pace while chocolates and wine glasses are set out around the room, or will you lead a group and describe the pairings as you go? This depends on the number of people involved and the style of gathering you’re holding. For large groups at a party, a tasting room, with a more relaxed move-at-your-own-pace atmosphere, may work better than trying to pour tastings and pass out chocolates.With a more intimate group, pouring each tasting can be a moment when you can chat with each of your guests or guests can talk amongst themselves. Generally, a guided tasting is more formal because it requires that your guests are attentive and quiet as you describe the pairings.
Step 3: The Day Of Prep
On the day of, you’ll want to work out how you’re laying out or passing out the chocolate.
You can order our tasting pieces, which are cut into perfect squares, one week in advance, or you can come in and grab a few bars to break up at home. If you decide to buy bars, assume each bar is enough chocolate for about eight good-sized pieces. You’ll want to break up the bars in advance; we suggest setting the pieces on plates in your fridge and taking them out about ten minutes before the tasting.
A tasting of wine is usually about an ounce, so a tasting flight of five is equivalent to drinking one moderately sized glass of wine. To learn how to eyeball that amount, take a wine glass and pour in two tablespoons of water. Because only two or three sips are needed to taste the wine, a bottle of wine is enough for about twenty tastings. Much of the time, guests will want to go back and have a glass of their favorite wine, so make sure to get an extra bottle (or two!) of each pairing wine just for that purpose.
Once you’ve set up your tasting area, make sure you have your wines ready at the correct temperature and enough plates and glasses to serve all your guests before they arrive.
When you start the tasting, feel free to explain why you’ve paired each chocolate with each wine, tell people to keep in mind the major pairing notes, or let people try the pairings and guess why they were paired. This part is entirely up to you!
Our only recommendation here is that your guests take a sip of their wine and then taste the paired chocolate. Flavor is only detected in liquid, which is why our mouths have saliva. You can’t taste dry flavors in a dry mouth, so a sip of wine before tasting the chocolate helps you taste more of the flavors in the chocolate.
You also may want to warn guests that trying wines with a chocolate that they’re not paired with can result in some combinations that make the wine and chocolate seem really metallic, sharp or otherwise unappetizing.
Share with Us:
You now have all of the information to get started on your home tasting! Let us know how it goes by tagging us on Instagram or Facebook.