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Friday 25 May 2012

Weekly Wine: Wine and Chocolate Matching Tutorial with Paul A Young

Oh boy, was I a lucky lady last weekend or WHAT.

As well as getting the chance to attend the first ever RAW (The Artisan Wine Fair) event, I was also permitted to enter what I can only imagine was what heaven is going to be like.

Event organiser Isabelle Legeron MW and chocolatier guru Paul A Young (we've told you about him before) combined forces to create a brilliant chocolate and wine matching workshop. One that - like the event itself - defied all your previous expectations and enlightened you to intriguing new possibilities.

I thought I knew it all when it came to chocolate and wine. To match the former's richness, offset its bitterness and entertain its sweetness, I always chose similarly sticky and rich wine pairings. It seemed the best way to go, but Paul and Isabelle showed us that - if you choose well - even a dry white can match chocolatey treats.

We started off with a piece of flavoursome, melt-in-the-mouth 60% cocoa solids chocolate (that's the bean-shaped one in the top left). We paired it with an Italian sparkler called Casa Belfi Col Fondo - the 'fondo' bit means 'with sediment' and this is a cloudy wine that is aged on its lees (the yeasty stuff that's normally filtered away). This gives it a full texture and biscuity character, but there's also a lot of apple there - and these elements combined made it blend perfectly with the texture of the chocolate. You can grab a bottle of the Casa Belfi for £14.90 from Zanotto.

Next on my list of favourites was the raw Ecuadorian chocolate (the big square slab). The hint of bitterness was overtaken by a perfumed, floral character - the perfect match for the equally floral and full-flavoured Domaine Milan, Le Grand Blanc from Provence. This was a case of two brutal forces combining to create one deliciously honeyed whole. It's like magic. A bottle is £18.96 (15% off) from Green and Blue.

Another gorgeous match was the juicy, jammy raspberry truffle (unsurprisingly, the pinky tinged one on the left) with a dry but fruity red - in our case we tried it with Daniele Piccinin's Rosso del Muni from Veneto. The vibrant, perfumed, redcurrant-flavoured wine worked brilliantly, but sadly it's not available to buy in the UK yet. In the mean time, I'd try to match the raspberry truffle with the equally juicy Ravenswood Zinfandel from The Wine Society for £8.75.

Lastly, we indulged with a goat's cheese, lemon and thyme truffle (the spotty one in the middle). That's a whole lot of pungent flavours, and it certainly was a mouth-filling, zesty, creamy treat. Isabelle matched it with the Tom Shobbrook Mourvedre from the Barossa Valley in Australia. Although a little young and so maybe too full-on, it brought out the cheesy flavour and married it together well with the herby character. You can buy a bottle for £25.99 from Selfridges, but if your budget doesn't quite stretch that far I'd say it's worth trying any good quality Shiraz-Mourvedre blend. Perhaps Percheron Shiraz Mourvedre from Rannoch Scott Wines for just £6.09.

Would you dare to try these unconventional pairings? Or do you stand by your own chocolate tipple? Tell us in the comments or on our Twitter and Facebook pages.

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