Wine ratings: matching with chocolate
The pairing of wine and chocolate is gaining popularity. Jorge Nunes - a winemaker who works for Dow's Port - says that in the past 10 years, dark chocolate with higher cacao levels has become more popular. This chocolate is perceived to be more sophisticated and complex with a multitude of fruit and spice flavours and acidity levels that can rival that of wine.
It pays to take into account the wide varieties of chocolate, from milk chocolate to dark and bittersweet with differing levels of cacao. Also, be aware of other factors such as sugar levels, nuts, cream and fruit that will change the chocolate/wine match. The basic rule is to taste chocolate with less intense flavours with lighter wine styles. Rich and more intensely flavoured chocolate should be paired with rich and more concentrated wines. Don't let the chocolate overwhelm the wine.
Ultimately, your taste buds will be the judge of the best wine and chocolate match. There is no right or wrong answer. The best part is that the number of different chocolate and wine variations is endless.
Nunes suggests using a 60 per cent to 70 per cent cacao chocolate for a comparative tasting. Lindt chocolate works well and is widely available. If you want to go more upmarket, then try Valrhona.
Petalos is made by one of Spain's most influential wine producers, Alvaro Palacios, who makes some of the country's most iconic wines, including l'Ermita. Petalos is from El Bierzo in northwestern Spain and is made from an indigenous grape variety called mencia.
Cherry, strawberry and spicy notes. Medium-bodied with high acidity and soft tannins. Elegant, approachable with good backbone and can be enjoyed on its own or with savoury dishes and dessert.
Tasted with 60 per cent chocolate. Did not accentuate the intense flavours of the chocolate. The wine will better complement milk chocolate or chocolate mousse with higher levels of cream or even a chocolate cheesecake.
HK$285, Oliver's, 2/F Prince's Building, Central
Torbreck is a producer of predominantly red wines located in the Barossa Valley in South Australia. Its speciality is Rhone-style reds made from shiraz, grenache and mataro (mourvedre) grapes.
Dense, dark, ripe black fruit, hints of herbs and black pepper. Full-bodied and powerful; 15 per cent alcohol, in balance with the fruit, soft tannins and a long finish.
The chocolate did not overwhelm the wine flavours. Both flavours were in balance, but neither enhanced the other. A better match with less intense chocolate, such as milk chocolate or fruit-filled chocolate. HK$594, Links Concept. Tel: 2802 2818
A port dedicated to chocolate. According to Nunes, this is made from declassified fruit for vintage ports, meaning it is of higher quality with increased fruit concentration. The port has a higher percentage of the variety touriga nacional in the blend to accentuate the floral notes. Nirvana is the product of research to find the component of wine and chocolate that hits the perfect balance. Trials were done with The Flanders Foundation in Belgium.
Highly concentrated dark fruit, grapey, floral aromas. Full-bodied, with high fruit intensity. Well-balanced sugar and acidity, and firm tannins, with a long finish. HK$249 Oliver's 2/F Prince's Building, Central
Of the three wines, the port performed the best with the chocolate. It enhanced the roasted flavours and created a harmonious taste sensation.