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By Jennifer Beisser
It seems that everywhere you look – grocery aisles, restaurants, farmer’s markets, your hotel pillow – you’ll find chocolate. I’m not talking about a 99-cent candy bar, but premium, all natural, gourmet chocolate. It’s all the rage and with more science linking health benefits to eating chocolate, one can argue it’s now good for you!
This attention on premium chocolate has elevated it to star status on ‘hot’ restaurant menus around the country, usually paired with a wine recommendation. So how can you replicate that experience for your next dinner party? We asked Chef Richard Kaplan, founder of artisan Brown Paper Chocolates, for his tips when selecting a wine to pair with gourmet chocolate.
* Dark chocolate, red wine and high-grade ports all have comparable properties, causing the tannins naturally found in red wines to enhance the sweetness in chocolates.
* Fruit in some red wines brings out the bitter undertones and smokiness found in higher-grade dark chocolates. To properly match them, look for a higher cocoa content (55% to 62%) used in well-made chocolate to pair with a big, forward fruit red or aged, vintage port.
* Milk chocolate has a very sweet creamy profile, rather than the stoutness found in dark chocolate. Pair milk chocolate with a cordial to enhance the inherent sweetness, such as an orange liqueur. You may also try a cream cordial with some bite like a whiskey-based drink or white Russian.
* White chocolate has a sweet and unique, nutty creamy profile. It nicely pairs with a full-bodied sparkling wine or a lighter, less cloying dessert wine such as Eiswine, Berenauslese or Muscat Beaume de Venise.
So how does this work in real life?
Here are a few flavors from Brown Paper Chocolates paired with appropriate wines.
* Dark Chocolate with Pistachios, Cointreau, Dried cherries & Orange Peel – pair with a full bodied forward fruit red such as Cabernet, Zinfandel or aged Port
* Dark Chocolate with Almonds, Aged Tequila & Ancho Chiles – pair with a full-bodied, less fruity, earthy style red such as Syrah, aged Tawny Port or Madiera
* Milk Chocolate with Cashews, Caramel, Jack Daniel’s & Fleur de Sel – pair with a creamy after dinner cordial such as Bailey’s Irish Cream
* White Chocolate with Pistachios, Caramel, Coffee Liqueur & Citrus Peel – pair with a full-bodied yeasty Champagne
* White Chocolate with Lavender, Chervil and Pimms No. 1 – pair with a full-bodied brie on plain toast and a light sweet wine such as Muscat Beaume de Venise
We learned so much. Thank you Chef Richard. To learn about other chocolate flavors or to place an order with Brown Paper Chocolates,, please visit them at BrownPaperChocolates.com. YUM!
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