My sister is a wine writer, she tastes wine almost everyday of the year, just as I taste chocolate.
We have each come up with our top 10 tips for tasting and choosing wine and chocolate.
1. Check the ingredients, you want chocolate, not sugar. Although % of cocoa has no indication of quality, you should still generally choose 35% or over for milk chocolate and 60% or over for dark.
2. Eat little and often of the best quality chocolate you can find. Chocolate makes you happy and you deserve it every day.
3. There is no guilt to eating good quality chocolate.
4. Eat chocolate slowly. Use your tongue to push the chocolate to the roof of your mouth and let it Melt slowly – this will give you the opportunity to really detect the full flavour profile of the chocolate and is much more satisfying.
5. The only way to learn is to experiment. Try different brands of chocolate one after the other, and then again in the reverse order. Make notes.
6. Don’t be apologetic about liking milk chocolate – I love milk chocolate in winter and in the morning, dark chocolate in summer and evenings
7. Go on a mission to find fresh chocolates - those that have been made within the last week – they really are light years away from boxed chocolates in the supermarket. You will be overwhelmed!
8. Don’t buy cheap chocolate. Chocolate is not cheap, so what are you buying? or what does that mean for the farmer at the beginning of the chain?
9. Use good quality chocolate in cooking – it really does affect the end result.
10. Be informed, don’t be confused by the latest chocolate jargon. Pick up the basics of bean type, region, terroir. It is a fascinating subject and you will enjoy your chocolate even more.
Louise couldn’t have said it better. Reading through her list, exactly the same principles apply to wine. To draw the parallels, I have followed her paragraphs closely, just to make the point!
1. Check the ingredients. Sadly this is not yet the case with wine. Many people in the industry hope wine labelling will be mandatory as soon as possible.
2. Drink little and often, the best quality wine you can afford. Wine makes you happy and you deserve it every day!
3. There is no guilt to drinking good quality wine – release your inner geek. Follow approachable, highly knowledgeable writers like www.timatkin.com and www.wineanorak.com.
4. Drink wine slowly. Don’t just neck it back but think about it. It’s not sad to sit and sip on your own. I assess wine by myself then pass the glass to layman palate Hubs who is always annoyingly, effortlessly accurate in his one word quality assessment!
5. The only way to learn is to experiment. Try different grape varieties one after the other, or the same variety from different regions. Make notes. Don’t copy critics’ wine waffle. Just simple notes will do.
6. Don’t be apologetic about liking inexpensive wine – I love Portuguese, Argentine and South of France rosés for lunch and hot evenings. Yes, I’ll even drink pinot grigio – although from Trentino in Italy and pinot gris from Alsace.
7. Go on a mission to find different wines - those that have been made without chemicals. Visit the Natural Wine Fair this May at Borough Market www.naturalwinefair.com.
8. Don’t buy bogus discount wine. Wine is not cheap to make. It’s OK to buy some wine in the supermarket but support the independents more. One of the best in South Ken is www.thesampler.co.uk.
9. ‘Use good quality chocolate in cooking – it really does affect the end result.’
This is the only one I don’t follow! I have what I call chicken wines. Wines not nice enough to drink with but to tip onto a bird roasting in the oven. Pink wines work best. You can also cook with oxidised wine but not ‘corked’ ie TCA. To know the difference, you’ll just have to start some wine classes..
10. Be informed, don’t be confused by the latest wine jargon. Pick up the basics of variety, region, terroir. It’s a fascinating subject and you will enjoy your wine even more. Find courses at all levels at www.localwineevents.com
So, you see, wine and chocolate are so similar after all. To conclude, a favourite ‘pairing’ from each of us – for me, (as a Mackenzie) a malt whisky like Bowmore www.bowmore.com and Melt’s 100% is pretty close to heaven. Louise...Melt Sea Salt Bar with Merry Widows Samling.
Thanks for reading, find me and my consumer wine news at www.earlybirdwinenews.com and on twitter at www.twitter.com/ebwinenews
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