Tips & Tricks: Pairing Wine With Chocolate, Part 3

14 10 2011

In case you have scrupulously avoided this blog for the past couple weeks and missed it, Part 1 of this mammoth super-post talked about the general principles applicable to pairing wine with chocolate and made some guesses as to which wines might make winning choco-combos; Part 2 put three dry red wines to a taste test only to see all of them fail more or less miserably; and tonight’s Part 3 moves away from dinner wines and reveals whether dessert wines (and a beer, for good measure) fared any better with dark chocolate at the tasting night I held with wine friends Brian, Tyler and Farrell earlier this week.  In parallel with this PnP saga, Victoria Kaye, the chocolate distributor who put the wheels in motion on this train of thought by sending me a care package of free Xocai brand chocolates with instructions to wine-match as I saw fit, has been providing the chocolate’s perspective on this whole thing on her blog XoXoXocai — click here for her reaction on the first part of the Pop & Pour taste test, which includes some tasting notes on the various chocolates that gave themselves up for a good gastronomic cause.

Cork Ratings, Wines #1-5 (in order): 0.5/10, 2/10, 7/10, 4/10, 3/10. Not such a stellar lineup.

To refresh your memory, by the end of Part 2 of this post, Wines 1 through 3 were wishing that they had been passed over as candidates in this study:  the 2008 Alias Cabernet Sauvignon (Calfornia) was the worst of the bunch, netting a chocolate Compatibility Score of 25%; the 2005 Modern Wine Project Malbec (Washington) had fared (literally) twice as well but still barely scraped a passing grade at 51%; and the 2008 Colaneri Cabernet Franc (Niagara) proved to be the most polarizing wine of the night, attracting my fiery hatred and tasting like tomato soup but still (somehow) pulling out 50%.  Starting with Wine #4, we ditched the dry wines and moved to those sweeter reds that were initially predicted to be the best chocolate matchups.  It may have been that we were in a better mood after downing the three bottles of wine that preceded them, but the dessert wines did not disappoint. Read the rest of this entry »

Tips & Tricks: Red Wine with Fish?

23 05 2011

The very first “ironclad” wine and food pairing rule that I was ever told is so ubiquitous that I’m sure you’ve all heard it too:  red wine with meat, white wine with fish.  But is this prohibition on mixing red wines and fish fact or fiction?  As with any good urban legend, it’s a bit of both.

There really is no caption that can improve on this picture.

First the fact:  it is a good idea to avoid pairing particularly oily foods with wines that are high in tannin (for a longer explanation on what tannin is, click here) because the two combine to produce unpleasant metallic or tinny flavours on the palate.  Generally speaking, fish is quite oily as compared to other cuts of meat, and red wines are the most likely candidates to be high in tannin, as white wines usually have little to no detectable tannins; as a result, it is certainly true that some red wines and some fish will not be a happy mix.  The iodine present in fish can also have a similar negative reaction with tannin (and, at least according to this article, the traces of iron in certain red wines will clash with fish), so following the basic “no red wine with fish” rule can help you avoid disastrous gastronomic consequences.

However, it is fiction to say that red wine and fish can never be successfully paired together. Read the rest of this entry »

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