Mmmm, wine. Mmmm, chocolate. What can possibly go wrong?? Well, according to conventional wisdom, quite a lot. The sweetness so overwhelms the palate that any wine tastes bitter by comparison; and the wine in turn dulls the palate to the sweetness of the chocolate and makes it taste vaguely greasy. So chocolate is usually not seen as the ideal partner for wines!! But this month for Wine Blogging Wednesday, Clotilde begged to differ and challenged us to find a wine that matches well with chocolate.
As usual, I was pressed for time (hence the fact that this post is too late to even feature in the round-up!! I’m such a saddo.) and didn’t get to go shopping for some excellent chocolate as I’d planned. But fortunately Johanna brought me two exotic-looking bars when she came to lunch recently, so I had a choice of Zotter ginger or "hot chick" chocolate. You must check out the Zotter website. If I though my two flavours were interesting (especially the Hot Chick one, the principal flavour of which turned out to be egg-flip rather than drumsticks and suchlike!), that was only because I hadn’t visited their site yet. Pineapple and paprika. Hempseed and mocha. Coffee plums with caramelized bacon. Crocus saffron. Crushed pepper with mint oil. And even one called Puss Puss (grapes and almonds in milk chocolate) which is said to be the suitable chocolate for wine! If only I’d known…
Anyhow, so that was the chocolate – how about the wine? Since my two trips to Spain in July, I have been enamoured with all things Spanish. So when we needed some sweet wine for a recipe the other day, it’s not surprising that I was attracted to a Spanish bottle. OK, so it wasn’t exactly a boutique winery’s fine wine – it’s a Moscatel de Valencia selected for Tesco and it comes in a screw cap bottle. But remember, it was originally bought as cooking wine!! Moscatel is made from Muscat d’Alexandrie grapes which belong to the Muscat family, varieties of which are found all over the world. In fact, in South Africa, our Muscat d’Alexandrie grapes were called hanepoot (say harne
ss-pwert), which literally translated means "cock’s foot", but is apparently more likely to be a corruption of the Dutch "hanekloot" or "cock’s testicles" which the berries are said to resemble. Take that, sports fans. Anyhow, we bought it to cook with and had loads left over after the dish was made, so we sampled a little – and it was surprisingly lovely! It’s a dessert wine, but without the cloying sweetness of botrytised wines – there is enough fresh acid to offset the lush fruit flavours and leave a clean finish on the palate. Mmmmm.
When I was deciding what wine to pair with the Zotter chocolate, this sweet frutiness combined with its balancing acid sprang to mind. I did also consider trying to find a particularly chocolatey Merlot, or even to bend the rules and have the chocolate with a bottle of the utterly indulgent Young’s double chocolate stout (just do yourself a favour, people. And I don’t even like stout!!). But in the end, lack of time and my general unpreparedness dictated that I go with the Moscatel. And it turned out to be a great combo! In fact, for a lighter style of dessert wine, you would have to look hard to find a better wine at the price (I do believe it was under £4! Wine snobs be damned!!)
Here are the tasting notes, plus some notes after I’d eaten some of the chocolate:
Moscatel de Valencia (Tesco selection) 15% NV
C – pale gold and sparkling
N – sultanas, honey, litchis
P – honey, sultanas, apricots, balanced by enough acid not to be sickly sweet. Long, clean finish, not cloying at all
After the chocolate – tastes more muted, but the frutiness still comes through. The finish is shorter but the sharp edges are completely taken off the acid. Still delicious. A great palate cleanser between bites of chocolate!