How to: Pairing wine and chocolate
It’s not such an odd thing when you think about the pairing of chocolate and wine. In fact, as Kitty Kaye discovers, it’s a rather elegant coupling and darn impressive too.
A good syrah (French) or shiraz red wine will have chocolate on the palate. Once you’ve experienced this, you’ll be able to discern a pairing with gamey meats such as lamb or pungent ones such as pork. Chef Jack Yeap of El Faro plays around with his sauces by including 65 per cent cocoa Valrhona (the best cooking chocolate available) for the pork tenderloin. He cleverly adds hazelnut puree to the sauce which adds a pleasant, nutty thickness to each bite. Although, his secret weapon here is the fried dates coated in a light batter. Pair it with the full-bodied Wirra Wirra Woodhenge shiraz from Australia and the fried dates become deliciously caramel, the pork dipped in the chocolate hazelnut sauce becomes seductive.
The Wirra Wirra Catapult shiraz is more quiet on the palate with soft tannins. However, pair it with Chef Jack’s chicken thigh simmered ‘tajine’ style with 70 per cent cocoa Valrhona sauce, the wine blooms and exudes delicate spices and ripe berries. While Wirra Wirra Church Block of mixed shiraz and merlot grapes – both known to have chocolate undertones – becomes surprisingly creamy with lamb cooked rare atop shaved crumbs 64 percent cocoa Valrhona and bittersweet pomelo fruit.
Pair strips of medium-rare lamb on a bed of shaved chocolate with a good shiraz
Dry, fine bubbles and sparkling are the characteristics most loved about prosecco. Batasiolo Cascine 7 prosecco is all that plus elegant and ‘glassy’ with sweet undertones. It enhances the sweetness of momotaro tomatoes. Chef Jack’s indigenous concoction of momotaro tartare topped with shaved 64 per cent cocoa Valrhona that’s both smooth and unobtrusive in texture and flavour, in turn highlights the refreshing flavours of this prosecco on the palate. Avoid fruits such as mangoes with this one, it tends to become a little metallic and fishy.
Normally citrusy, ripe ‘fair’ fruits such as peach and lightly honey on the palate, chardonnay’s a favourite for summer. Evans & Tate Gnangara Unwooded 2010 chardonnay holds these flavours on the palate on top of ‘jammy’ hints followed by a pleasant sharpness. With this, Chef Jack pairs seared Hokkaido scallops with 55 per cent cocoa Valrhona sauce with a dash of gin. The result is, the wine becomes a touch more citrusy and complements the chocolaty slightly bitter sauce. Its sharpness helps to soften obnoxious oily, fried food such as the fried onion rings.
Refreshing moscato and chocolaty tiramisu
Moscato wine from muscat grapes are normally sweet and floral. Deakin Estate’s moscato from Australia is pale straw in colour, lychees on both nose and palate and is sweet with hints of zesty green apples finish. Good as a dessert wine, it holds its own with chocolate. Particularly with 64 pe cent cocoa Valrhona mixed into Chef Jack’s rendition of the tiramisu that has layers of tuile (thin wafer), chocolate ice cream and strawberry granite that adds texture. What happens when this wine and chocolate collide is, sharpening of the lychees on the palate and loosening the thick texture of the tiramisu.
Where To Try
Any one of these wines, in Penang, are available and can be paired with chocolaty desserts or savoury main dishes at Suffolk House, Hotel Equatorial’s food and beverage outlets, El Faro, Deluxcious, Ixora Hotel’s food and beverage outlets, Golden Sands Resort’s food and beverage outlets, Seafront Dining, ChinaHouse, Five27 and 32 at the Mansion.