Burlinton,VT (Vocus) November 11, 2010
Gourmet Chocolate. Aged Cheese. Fine Wine. All three are always present at holiday parties and dinners, so why not combine them into one dessert that will be sure to continue the conversation late into the night? Not only is this dessert idea unique and different, it’s foolproof and takes the stress away from spending hours in the kitchen trying to whip up a festive masterpiece. Most cheeses and red wines are best served at room temperature, so this platter can be made well ahead of time, before guests even arrive.
To prevent the agony of trying to perfectly pair each cheese with each chocolate and each wine, highlight one category and use the other two categories to help accent its best qualities. Since this is dessert, chocolate was chosen first and the cheese and wines were picked to accompany it. The key is to keep everything simple: not only for the host’s own sanity, but also to not overwhelm guests. Here are some pairing suggestions:
Dark chocolate is usually 50%-75% cacao and has strong complex flavors with nuances that are nutty, spicy, floral, earthy, and has a balanced aftertaste that is not too sweet. Considering these flavor profiles, choose a savory Brie cheese or mild blue cheese to enhance the undertones of the chocolate. Dark chocolate pairs well with full-bodied red wines: such as a Cabernet Sauvignon, which highlight the fruity and peppery notes in the chocolate, or a bold Australian Shiraz, which brings out the chocolate’s spicy subtleties.
On the coldest of winter nights, add a little spice to the chocolate selection by including chili chocolates, such as Lake Champlain Chocolates’ Organic Spicy Aztec Squares or Aztec Chocolate Truffles. The extra kick of cayenne and cinnamon in this chocolate nicely complements a ripened goat cheese. A fruity, zesty red wine, such as a full-bodied Zinfandel will balance the raciness of the chocolate.
Options are endless when it comes to choosing a chocolate covered caramel. One suggestion is the Sea Salt Caramel from Lake Champlain Chocolates. The buttery caramel with a touch of sea salt pairs well with a fresh goat cheese and wines such as a Late Harvest Riesling or a Demi-Sec Champagne. These wines both have a honey and floral bouquet, which complement the caramel well.
Chocolate Covered Nuts
If these are included on the pairings plate, be sure to have a back-up supply. Guests won’t be able to eat just one of these irresistible sweet-and-salty confections. The saltiness of the nuts marry well with hard aged cheeses, such as an 18-month cheddar or a gouda. A Pinot Noir, with its toasted and spiced berry notes is a natural complement to the chocolate and roasted almonds.
There is no one correct way to create a holiday chocolate, cheese and wine pairing. With a little help of the local specialty food store’s wine and cheese experts, the possibilities are endless.
Lake Champlain Chocolates, based in Burlington, VT, produces all-natural gourmet chocolate confections. For more information about the company and where products can be purchased, please visit http://www.LakeChamplainChocolate.com.