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Our Blog: Chocolate Talk

Pairing Wine and Hedonist Chocolate

Wine & TrufflesWe are lucky to live in close proximity to the Finger Lakes wine region and this has given us a lot of experience in pairing wine with our chocolate. We started experimenting early on as we were promoting our business with chocolate tastings at various foodie events in the Rochester area. Local wineries were always in attendance and it was natural to taste their wines with our chocolate. Our most enduring partnership with a winery started during a Friday night wine tasting event at Wine Sense on Park Avenue.

Pairing wine and chocolate has become very popular, but it can be difficult to do successfully. We often try many different types of chocolate (bittersweet, semi-sweet, milk and white) and natural ingredients (nuts, dried fruit, salt, caramel, spices) in combination with many different wines before we settle on a good pairing that can be shared on a tasting menu (as you can imagine, these sessions can be quite fun! You can read about one we did with friend Holly Howell in the Finger Lakes Wine Review). Although there are some general rules, you should always try unexpected combinations, you never know when you will come upon a brilliant pairing!

When you pair chocolate and wine, you want to taste the wine by itself first. Smell it, taste it and enjoy it's unique qualities. Next taste a piece of the chocolate. Warm it up in your mouth and let it coat your tongue and the roof of your mouth. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth to experience the flavor fully. Just as you finish the chocolate, take another sip of the wine, this is the moment of pairing.

In general, darker chocolates will pair well with more full-bodied wines and lighter chocolates pair well with lighter-bodied wines. Most pairings we do try to match the flavor tones in the wine with the ingredients in the chocolate, but you can also try contrasting flavors. A strong red wine such as a Cabernet or Meritage typically goes with bittersweet chocolate; a lighter red like a Pinot Noir might pair nicely with semisweet or milk chocolate. It is harder to pair white chocolate with wine because of it's sweetness, but you can often get it to go with a dessert wine.

Our first winery partnership was formed with Ravines Wine Cellars on Keuka Lake. We absolutely adore their wines and we have worked closely with them over the years to perfect the chocolate pairings that they do in their tasting room every day:

  • Ravines Chardonnay is paired with our Milk Chocolate Sesame medallion and our new Salted Caramel with Walnuts in Milk Chocolate. The milk chocolate/chardonnay pairing surprised us and continues to delight visitors to Ravines Winery. Their chardonnay has warm buttery notes that echo the smooth flavor of sesame. A little salt in the chocolate wakes up the taste buds during this pairing.
  • The Cabernet Franc is paired with semisweet chocolate. Depending on the season and tasting flight, it will have dried cranberries and orange zest, dried cherry and almonds or local dried blueberries and orange zest. This is a versatile, balanced, fruit-forward wine that pairs well with almost any dried fruit.
  • Ravines Meritage is paired with a traditional Bittersweet truffle or a Bittersweet Black Currant and Pepper medallion. This is certainly one of the best red wines to come out of the Finger Lakes. It's bold flavor has fruit and pepper notes that stand up well to our darkest (72%) chocolate.

In addition to Ravines, we have partnerships with several other wineries in the Finger Lakes including Billsboro Winery, Damiani Wine Cellars and Hunt Country Vineyards. We work with each winery to come up with chocolates that help them highlight the quality and flavor of their wines. We are selective about the wineries we work with because when you taste our chocolate, it should be special.

If you would like to experience a curated chocolate and wine pairing, you can visit any one of the wineries listed above. In Rochester, you can get a flight of our chocolates at Flight Wine Bar in Corn Hill Landing. The staff will be happy to recommend pairings from their ever changing wine menu.

 
Pleasure, handcrafted. Hedonist Artisan Chocolates are handmade with fresh ingredients to give as gifts or indulge yourself.
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