Cowie and I were delighted to be invited to a fantastic wine and chocolate pairing evening at Green and Blue in East Dulwich. It's a brilliant wine merchant, deli and restaurant that I am very glad to have come across given that it's well within range from Brixton.
As the sign righty points out they were the best small wine merchant in the UK at the Decanter awards.
The purpose of our session was to show a bunch of food bloggers that some wines are a great match for certain types of chocolate. For far better write ups than this one, have a look at what Gourmet Chick had to say as well as what the lovely Dinner Diary thought. I'm sure Chris from Cheese and Biscuits, Helen from Food Stories and Katrina from Chocolate Chilli Cupcake will all have something to say about it too. So keep your eyes peeled.
Kate Thal, the owner and sommelier extraordinaire, introduced us to the concept of pairing wine with chocolate with an almost poetic spiel before letting us meander our way through the tasting at our own pace. All the wines were paired with chocolate from Montezuma which I have now fallen head over heels with.
We started with a New Zealand Pinot Noir called Amisfield that almost paired with some wonderful Montezuma milk chocolate. Maybe we hadn't warmed up yet. But we all felt it didn't marry as well as we expected. Having said that, once the wine had settled in the glass and we weren't so greedy with the amount of chocolate we were scoffing the results were much better. A hit... but not a palpable one.
The second wine was far more robust. If the Pinot was like Darren Anderton, this one was more like a refined version of David Batty in his glory days at Leeds United. The Radford Dale Merlot, from South Africa, was greeted with adoration by the group. If Helen of Troy's face launched a thousand ships, then Sideways launched a thousand years of woe on merlot (pronounced the American way). With Montezuma's sensationally good dark side of milk chocolate it was sublime.
Steven hypothesised that the higher the cocoa content of the chocolate the more tannin the wine needs to be able to cope. The next pairing confirmed this immediately. We were introduced to a wine from the Bandol region in Southern France.
The wine was dark. Dusty. Intensely savoury. Almost gasping to be paired with chocolate so dark it might well contain anti-matter. Put these two broody beasts together and you are left with a scene from a gothic novel. I doubt this would be to everyone's tastes. It was quite divisive. But if you like things like licorice, bitter marmalade and you smoke 80 a day, then this would suit you perfectly!
The night, as Harvey Dent says, is darkest before the dawn... and so verily we were led unto the promised land of white chocolate. I know I'm supposed to screw up my face and look down on white chocolate with the sort of disdain Parisian men reserve for American tourists ordering "freedom fries", but I rather like it. Especially when it's from Montezuma. Whilst I liked the idea of serving it with a light, fresh white from Italy, I wasn't a big fan of the Muscato d'Asti called Bera. No doubt it was a fine example of the wine. But after all the bitterness and depth of the darker chocolates and reds, I just found it a bit sweet. That said, I did appreciate ending on a light and floral note.
We were treated to a fantastic cheese and meat platter at the end which made for a very welcome respite from the onset of diabetes and obesity. Only then did it dawn on me that we'd done everything backwards! Maybe it would all work better in reverse? Who's up for a reverse dinner party?
Thanks again to Kate and the team at Green and Blue. You've opened our minds and made me realise how hard it is to write about wine!