Yesterday, Deanna and I ventured out to partake in one of the many events during the June Hunter Valley Wine and Food Festival. We visited Wyndham Estate winery just past Branxton, NSW. As I mentioned in my blog, 'Wine Tasting Technology Perspective', I met a 'friend' on FaceBook who shared a common interest in wine plus a particular interest in the Tyrrell's Vat 1 Semillon as he was a rep for Tyrrell's at the time. He now works at Wyndham Estate and posted about their Wine & Chocolate matching Masterclass, so we decided to attend. Another good example of business being conducted via Web 2.0!
The class had 4 wines (all by Wyndham Estate) which were a Bin 333 Pinot Noir, a Shiraz / Grenache blend (the Grenache really came out, especially with the Raspberry-infused chocolate), a Bin 555 Sparkling Shiraz, and a Rutherglen Muscat. The chocolates where a Raspberry-infused dark chocolate, a Belgian chocolate, and an Orange-infused chocolate. Not every combination worked well as you might be able to imagine, but some were really a treat!
The Pinot was fine with the Raspberry-infused chocolate and the Grenache from the Shiraz / Grenache blend really picked up the flavors from the Raspberry-infused chocolate even more. I personally did not like the Sparkling Shiraz with any of the 'infused' chocolates as there was just too much chaos going on in my mouth, but several others in the class liked it. The Muscat with the Orange-infused chocolate worked extremely well together also.
Both Deanna and I were really interested in what may go well with a Chile-infused chocolate and Cameron Davies, our instructor for the day, had the answer - a big, robust Shiraz! Wyndham Estate has a great Shiraz, called Black Cluster which is made from 40 year old vines. We had the 2007 (current vintage) and it was a great wine and good value at $60 per bottle. And the spice and pepper of the Black Cluster really brought out the chili in the chocolate and the chili really brought out the spice in the Shiraz - it was a wonderful and full-on experience. Deanna blurted out that "it was like having an explosion in my mouth"! For me, I will remain a bit more refrained and repeat - 'it was a wonderful and full-on experience'!
A lot of people have learned a bit (and some a lot) about matching food and wine, and it does, in many cases, truly enhance the dining experience in my opinion. I also like matching wine and cheese and while any good wine will go with any good cheese, there are combinations that really work much better than others. The same is true for wine and chocolate.
When we have a 3 - 4 course dinner party, we often start with a Sparkling Shiraz on arrival for drinks until we sit down and get into the first course and the first matching wine. However, I learned yesterday that a Sparkling Shiraz can go well with chocolate and think it would do very nicely as an alternative to a more traditional desert wine to match up with heavy (or mud) chocolate cake or chocolate truffles to finish a meal. That is one of the lessons I learned yesterday. Thanks Cameron for the Masterclass!