We need to spend more time with our loved ones. At times I’m certainly guilty of this particular sin by omission, often getting too caught in the cyber world to often spend proper time with those closest to me. Ahem. I’ve also been a long time proponent of small gestures that have a ripple act, believing in quality over quantity. A smile, a selfless good deed for a stranger, a phone call, a bunch of flowers just to say I luff ya or sending over a ‘hey, how are you’ Twitter DM out of the blue. You know, the stuff that makes the world go around.
Well, very much in this spirit I’ve discovered a new spin on a vice to share with someone I/you/we love. Wine & chocolate matching – the best excuse for an off-the-cuff catch up. Waitrose contacted me to get involved with their National Chocolate Week campaign – how do you say no to an email like that!? – sending me a delicious bottle or two of wine and a few packages of chocolates so, I turned it into an excuse to spend some quality time with a few of my loved ones for no reason other than because we can.
In fact, I enjoyed it so much, it turned it into 3 evenings where I
turned up on doorsteps with loaded with wine, chocolate and hugs. (For the record they
all knew I was coming and willingly told me where they lived, I’m not a
creeper, just FYI.) Best round of blog research I’ve ever done.
Just think of it like this, for
under £20 you can arm yourself with an excuse to step away from the social
media, stretch your tastebuds and spend a comfy night away from the cold
hard reality of daylight. All you need is a bottle of something
delicious (I have the world’s worst sweet tooth and opted to try a few – a
sparkling wine, a port and a dessert wine – all in the name of
thorough blog testing you understand.) The Waitrose grocery team have pegged together a
variety of suggestions for National Chocolate Week which we found was a great
guide to start off from.
Our particular tipples this time were;
Waitrose Cava Brut, Castillo Perelada NV – with “citrus aromas with savoury nutty flavours and a crisp, long finish.” My friend said the wine reminded her of long Spanish afternoons, lazing under palm trees. We tried this against a variety of truffles and chocolate bites. Though nothing in particular jumped out as a pairing, it was just nice to celebrate.
Cockburn’s Special Reserve Port – “this sumptuous port has a youthful nose packed with aromas of red cherry
and hints of plums and strawberry. On the palate it’s sweet and smooth
with luscious red berry flavours leading to a fresh fruity finish.” We agreed wholeheartedly (though far less eloquently) and loved this against a sampling of white chocolate blondies specially made, and the age old tradition of a cheeseboard.
Campbells Raglan Muscat – ‘Sticky sweetie’ dessert wines are my favorite kind, being unctious and indescribably rich and this is “super-sweet and golden, a raisned, honeyed wine made from 100% Muscat à Petits Grains Rouge”. Funnily enough we enjoyed this best with a dark chocolate tart, the milk and dark chocolate making for a nice contrast to the nectarous glass.
It is the easiest party to throw – simply invite a couple of friends, make a few selections, perhaps bake something and pull up a couch.
If you like there are a few steps you can try to enhance the foodie qualifications of the night…
1. Preparation: Your
chocolate should be served at room temperature, whilst the wine should
be served according to variety – red wines at room temperature and white
or rose chilled.
2. Taste the wine: Swirl
the wine around in the glass before smelling it to help open up the
complexities of the aromas. Swirl the wine around your mouth and if you
can, draw in air at the same time. Think about the flavours, textures
and how the wine develops.
3. Try the chocolate: Take a
bite size piece of chocolate and like you would with wine, smell the
chocolate taking in the aromas such as spice, fruit, vanilla etc. Then
look at the colour and finally place the chocolate in your mouth and
allow to dissolve. You should start to pick up the flavours of the
4. Now try the wine: While
you still have a small amount of chocolate left in your mouth, take a
sip of the wine and swirl around your mouth, making sure that the
chocolate and wine blend together.
5. Repeat: Remember to cleanse you palate between tastings, and beware of curious felines peering over coffee table edges…