Wine and Chocolate. Need I say more? They have been paired together since the beginning. There is just something about that rich, creamy texture and the full taste of chocolate that make it partner perfectly with a glass of wine. But how about different chocolates with different wines? How about white wine?
*Disclosure – I received admission to the Lindt Chocolate and Wine Seminar at no charge for media coverage
Pebble Beach Food & Wine Presents:
Lindt Wine and Chocolate with J. Lohr Wines
Chocolatier Ana Czaja of Lindt Chocolate started us out in the seminar talking not just about how chocolate is made, but all the way back to the origins of chocolate and how it is grown and processed. 3 million cocoa beans are processed a year, 400 beans makes 1 pound of chocolate and 23 pounds of chocolate are eaten a year per person by the Swiss. It’s no wonder they are world class chocolate makers!
70% of the worlds chocolate is harvested in Africa, however, like all foods, there are different qualities of crops that are produced and the beans grown in South America, Brazil are yielding of the best flavors.
The harvesting and fermenting is still done by hand, cutting with machetes and then drying and fermenting in banana leaves. From there, the cleaning process (winnow) is quite extensive, then they are roasted and ground to make cocoa liquor. It then goes through a process called conching that breaks it down and makes it creamy, smooth and removes acidity.
Now you can make your chocolates. The basic ingredients are the same just in different portions to produce different varieties of chocolate.
White Chocolate – Cocoa Butter, Sugar, Milk
Milk Chocolate – Cocoa Butter, Sugar, Milk & Cocoa Liquor
Dark Chocolate – Cocoa Butter, Sugar, Milk & High Portion of Cocoa Liquor
How do you pick a well made chocolate?
Look: Smooth Shine, Silky, Sheer
Touch: Smooth and Silky
Listen: Should Snap – Louder with a Dark Bar
Smell: Fresh Chocolate Smell
Taste: Bite, Chew and Let it Coat Your Mouth
Now for the fun part – Pairing that delicious chocolate with wine! Jerry Lohr talked briefly about J. Lohr wines and ideal conditions for grapes. This is a very BIG topic so he kept it pretty short so we could get right to the tastings!
Chardonnay with Intense Orange Chocolate – the citrusy flavors of the Chardonnay were perfect with the orange and almond in the chocolate. This one you could bite your chocolate and then sip your wine while chewing and it tasted amazing! Who knew you could do white wines and chocolate.
Pinot Noir with Sea Salt Chocolate – The Sea Salt changes the flavor on the palate just slightly and it is wonderful.
Cabernet Sauvignon with 70% Dark – the dark chocolate is perfect for the dark fruits in a robust cab.
Syrah with Chili Chocolate – The slow heat with chili chocolate complements the peppery notes in a bold Syrah
This was an excellent seminar for anyone who loves wine and chocolate. I love the history and discussion before the tastings so you could fully appreciate every moment. I would highly recommend it to anyone if they have the chance!