It's the love that dare not speak its name: the unholy marriage of chocolate and wine. For years, experts have agreed that whilst a family sized bar of Dairy Milk Whole Nut and a bottle of Chardonnay may seem like a great night in, in proper tasting terms chocolate and wine are notoriously difficult to match. Rather than complimenting each other, when paired, chocolate and wine destroy each other's good points; chocolate suddenly feels cold, granular and saccharinely sweet, whilst wine can become overly acidic and tannic.
So, when the wine experts at Vinopolis said they were running a Chocolate & Wine Masterclass, I was intrigued. Usually, Vinopolis wine tasting tours are self-guided - you have a series of tokens depending on your chosen 'experience' - and go around the warehouse helping yourself. If you haven't been, then do go, its fun. Sadly they are closing their doors at the end of this year, and this Masterclass is one of a series of special events they are hosting until the bitter end (there's also cheese and wine, sake classes and all sorts of things, so check it out).
Anyway, one recent Thursday evening saw my friend Julia and I plodding over to Borough Market excited for an evening of absolute indulgence. The class is held in a private room where you are seated, and all the lovely wines and chocs are laid out in front of you tauntingly.
This particular class was in partnership with Lindt, so after having the basics of both chocolate and wine tasting explained to us (choc - snap, smell, melting / wine - sniff, swirl, slurp) we got on with the serious business of tasting seven different chocolates and wines, starting with Lindt's signature Extra Creamy chocolate and a Valpolicella-like Chilean red who's name escapes me.
The wine expert was really good; there was nothing stuffy, snobby or dull about him as there so often can be with these things. He was interesting and interested in what everyone had to say, and brought out some absolute gems of glasses of wine for us all. I'm still thinking about a beautiful orange muscat (floral, perfumed, perfectly sweet) which was beyond amazing when paired with orange choc - like a big grown up jaffa cake flavour.
I'm not going to spoil the tasting for you by simply replicating all of Vinopolis' excellent pairings, but I really must share with you the way that they managed to match a Champagne with its ideal chocolate partner. Many people say that Champagne and chocolate just cannot be done - but, I urge you to try Lindt's Sesame chocolate with a glass next time. Somehow, the kind of little bursting sensation you get with toasted sesame seeds seems to mimic the bubbly feel of the fizz. Oh, and the caramel-like toasty flavours just match really well. Its a revelation, I promise you.
The Chocolate & Wine Masterclass as Vinopolis costs £40 a head. For dates, booking and more information visit: http://vinopolis.co.uk/whats-on/
Thank you to Vinopolis for kindly hosting my friend and I; we had a fantastic evening. Make sure you get yourselves along to Vinopolis before the end of the year!