How you know you’ve made it as an amateur blogger: when somebody sends you free chocolate. Me, as of this week? Made it.
One of this site’s dozens (OK, dozen) of loyal subscribers is Victoria Kaye, an Ontario-based marketing guru, freelance writer and distributor of the Xocai lineup of chocolate products. Victoria is a blogger in her own right, regularly churning out insightful posts about her unique choco-wares at her site XoXoXocai. I took particular notice of this site not only because it shares a platform affiliation with PnP (holla WordPress!) but also because it so happens that Victoria and I started up our respective blogs within a week of each other at the start of March 2011…as I’m continually reminded, it’s a small world full of strange coincidences. Victoria actually first stumbled across Xocai chocolates as a guest at a wine tasting, and since then has been wanting to delve further into the intricacies of pairing wine with chocolate; the chocolate package I received was conditional on my attempting to respond to this very issue. Well, chocolate received and mission accepted!
Wine and chocolate is a pairing that seems to have been universally sold as a match made in heaven (if Hallmark cards, romantic getaway packages and any Valentine’s Day episode of any TV show in history are effective barometers of these kinds of things). In reality, however, I have a hard time envisioning there will be even a handful of wine styles that will truly form a mutually-enhancing match with most types of chocolate. Even before I started looking into this in detail, I thought that chocolate had two key characteristics that would severely restrict the number of wines that would taste good with it: it’s sweet and it’s distinctive. Dry wines generally don’t match up well with sweeter foods, and foods with individual and assertive flavours automatically narrow their pairing options because they’re incapable of simply being a blank canvas that can be fleshed out by multiple different wine choices. There are assuredly some truly symbiotic wine matches for chocolate out there, but my guess is that they’re few and far between. Of course, that’s not going to stop me from trying to find them. The goal of this post is to narrow down what to look for in a potential chocolate pairing, after which I’ll go buy a few likely candidates, recruit some willing volunteers, then take a bullet for all of my dear readers by eating a lot of chocolate and drinking a lot of wine to find out what tastes good with what. The results of my strictly-for-science tasting night will be posted shortly after its completion (i.e. as soon as I come out of the sugar coma). Read the rest of this entry »