You’ve all seen this scene before: the kids have been shuffled off to the grandparents’ house. A nice bottle of wine has been consumed. Your partner has that gleam in his eye as he leans over, gently kisses your neck and whispers, “Don’t you think that maybe tonight dear, we should have…chocolate.”
Yes, because, let’s face it: nothing pairs with a fine bottle of wine like a well-crafted chocolate. According to one site, which we will not cite because, frankly, this is not one of those elitist academic publications, wine has been paired with chocolate since 1672. Well, that’s pretty precise. That means, for example, that William Shakespeare never experienced a wine and chocolate pairing. Had he done so, it certainly would have been deserving of a scene in one of his plays. Comedy? Tragedy? Farce? Let your imagination run wild.
Why so late? Did not the Romans, so famous for wine, pleasure and overconsumption, understand this delight? Well, they would have but for the fact that chocolate is a new world product. Like so many iconic European pairings: potato latkes or pizza with tomato sauce, wine and chocolate were unknown prior to the early European voyages of “discovery.”
And even then, the chocolate brought back would have been very different, and much more bitter, than the sugar, fruit and salt suffused concoctions of today.
Wines these days vastly outnumber those available to our forebears as do the varieties of chocolate. And because different wines are capable of highlighting different foods, these many options can be experienced in delightful, dare we say even sensuous, ways. There is a reason that Valentine’s Day is a day of hearts, wine and chocolate.
You already knew all that, of course. But did you know that Saffron Fields sells chocolates that have been specifically selected and paired with their wines by the celebrated Bards Confectionary Chocolatier of Oregon? So while Shakespeare may not have been inspired by wine and chocolate pairings, you can experience wine and chocolate pairings inspired by Shakespeare. What better way to indulge both your foodie and literary self?
According to Patrick Patterson, the owner of Bards, chocolate, like wine, varies greatly based on its origin including climate, elevation and soil condition. Further, there are “estate” chocolates that are of single location origin and blended chocolates. The flavor of estate chocolate can vary year-to-year based on climate. Blended chocolate is selected and mixed to maintain a consistent flavor over time.
Working with winemaker Tony Rynders, Bards produces chocolate truffles specifically for Saffron Fields Vineyards, with taste profiles that evolve to pair well with current vintages and specific wines. For example, Bards created a Gooey Caramel Truffle to pair with Saffron Field’s luscious Rosé. For Pinot Noir, Patrick creates a truffle with 72% dark cocoa from South America. According to Patrick, “Most people get notes of cherry and raspberries from that chocolate, even though I don’t add either to the mix.” Needless to say, that flavor profile is a match made in heaven for a fine Pinot Noir.
“Of course,” observes Patrick, “every palette is different. Individuals need to experiment with different pairings and find those most pleasing to their own palette.” We’d like to shamelessly suggest that you buy multiples of everything and experiment until you find your own perfect match.