Thanks to the Margaret River Discovery Co. for this post.
Those who love fine chocolate and fine wine find key points of similarity. Both are made from fruit (the cocoa nibs from which chocolate is made are the seeds of the fruit of the cocoa tree, and fruit was eaten by early Americans long before they discovered how to make chocolate beverage from the seeds). The flavour and aroma yielded by both cacao pod and grape are a function of not only their rootstock, but of their soil, climate, and the weather conditions affecting any single harvest.
The good news for those who love them both is that wine and chocolate complement each other. What might sound at first like an unlikely marriage is quite a harmonious one—with a bit of pre-marital counselling. As with foods, there are many kinds of chocolate preparations with different flavour profiles; so no one wine is a universal match. While that creates a challenge to find the perfect suitor for a box of assorted bonbons; it also makes it fun to seek your favourite pairings, and test on an ongoing basis which combinations you prefer.
In general, semisweet and bittersweet chocolates go best with stronger red wines while milk and white chocolates paired better with lighter reds and sweeter white wines. The perfect pairing balances sweetness, fruitiness, and acidity—and your own flavour preferences, of course.
Some say it can’t be done, pairing wine with chocolate, but if you have the right wine to complement the right chocolate it can be a match made in heaven! Whether you are pairing a delicate white chocolate or a lively dark chocolate with wine, there are a few pairing tips to keep in mind.
Rule #1, keep in mind that pairing wine and chocolate is not a straightforward pairing. It can take a bit of experimenting to find the best wine and chocolate combinations. Remember your palate impressions may be very different from those you are tasting and testing with. Try to keep the wine sweeter than the chocolate; otherwise the two can really clash raising up bitter notes instead of the smooth synergy of a well-paired union.
For example, a bittersweet chocolate tends to pair well with an intense, in-your-face California Zinfandel or even a tannin-driven Cabernet Sauvignon. The darker the chocolate the more tannins it will display. However when you pair this darker chocolate up with a wine that has stout tannins, the chocolate will often overshadow or cancel out the wine’s tannins on the palate and allow more fruit to show through.
Bahen & Co. founder, Josh Bahen, has a decade of experience in the making of fine wine and a wine-makers attention to craftsmanship. Together with his wife Jacq they operate the chocolate making facility from a family operated farm in Margaret River.
Here’s what Josh has to say about the match with the House Blend 70%:
A selection of single plantation cacao stone ground to produce a complex chocolate in a distinct house style. All of the beans we use in our chocolate are sourced directly from farmers we work with.
- 45% Brazil – Heirloom Forestaro Variety – A very strong & chocolatey bean. High in tannin.
- 45% Madagascar – This plantation is a mixture of both Criollo & Trinitario Variety – Very fruity, citrus & raison. Low in tannin.
- 10% Papua New Guinea – Heirloom Trinitario Variety – fruit driven – raspberry – Low in tannin.
High quality wines pair very well with high quality/high cocoa content chocolates. As a general rule – the more powerful the wine, the more powerful the chocolate.
Take a piece of the chocolate, begin to taste and allow the chocolate flavour to develop in the mouth. Once the chocolate has been swallowed, the wine can be tasted. The House Blend has some interesting berry fruity notes combined with roasted, earthen & chocolate flavours. The fruit/berry notes from the Cabernet gape together with the more savoury notes from the oak generally combine exceptionally well with this chocolate.
The Margaret River Discovery Co has just announced wine and chocolate tastings included in their Margaret River Best of the Best Wine Tour. Featuring chocolate from Bahen and Co. Chocolate matched with Cape Mentelle’s iconic Cabernet Sauvignon.
The special thing to note is that there are just two ingredients in Bahen & Co Chocolate: cacoa (70%) and sugar (30%). They use traditional methods to make chocolate, which is what makes it so good – and good for you. Josh Bahen said, “Eating good dark chocolate regularly reduces body mass by five per cent.” So, where can I buy some? See below for more.
Bahen & Co is set to expand. It is no surprise – they have a fantastic product and admirable work ethos. Watch this space.