Monday, September 15, 2008

The Perfect Wine to Pair with Chocolate

Last Thursday I found myself with a tray of 18 different chocolates, ranging from a sweet milk truffle to an extra dark artisan bar. The task? To find the perfect wine to pair with chocolate. As an expert panelist at the Taste TV "Chocolate Seizure" event, I had to put aside my fussy concerns about the differences among the various chocolates that made the selection of one perfect wine impossible. And I needed to get over the fact that port was not an option - my favorite wine for chocolate pairings. Instead, I cast my vote for one of the three "pre-approved" red wines created at Crushpad: the merlot, the cabernet or the zinfandel. We were making history, since this is supposed to be the first red wine specifically designed for consuming with chocolate.

I applaud Taste TV for once more rallying together this city's chocophiles and oenophiles for another sold-out chocolate event. Unlike the SF International Chocolate Salon this spring, the guest list for Chocolate Seizure was limited and so there was a bit of breathing room. And the price for the general public was a very reasonable $40. Many of San Francisco's small time chocolatiers benefit from the exposure in Taste TV events. Present Thursday night were the usual suspects: Jade Chocolate, Amano, New Tree, Coco Delice, Saratoga and the Tea Room. Appearing for the first time was TCHO, drumming up support for their "beta" chocolate experience. The best piece of chocolate I tasted that night was the Jade Hawaiian sea salt bar. But back to the wine...

If you haven't been to Crushpad yet, make a beeline. Or at least make a beeline to the wealthiest person you know and get them to sponsor your creation. We're talking $5700 to $10,700 a barrel. Crushpad sources the best grapes from local Napa and Sonoma vineyards. They'll meet with you to determine what kind of a wine you want to make, and then you can be involved in the process (from grape-crushing to designing the bottle) as little or as much as you want. For the busy salaryman, the Crushpad web cam offers a live connection to your grapes. And it was through this process that the three options for the 08 "Domaine de Taste Amerique" were born.

It was a close call, but the Cabernet ultimately prevailed. It wasn't my vote; I just couldn't get past its almost effervescent quality, since Crushpad decided to pour the cab well before it was ready. And I'm told it could be at least another year! But when that time comes, a future reserve bottle of this "cult, boutique" wine should be making its way to my home. In the meantime, I'll be enjoying the wines we're pairing with chocolate on our new San Francisco Gourmet Chocolate and Wine Tour.

With all this talk about pairing wine and chocolate, I can't help but think of Chloe Doutre-Roussel, whose little pink book The Chocolate Connoisseur is a favorite among my tour guides. For her, warm water is what you drink with chocolate. At 6 am, when your taste buds are most fresh. Sorry Chloe, but the people have spoken.

No comments: