Insights from Wine & Chocolate Tasting With Jacques Torres


Guest Writer: Irem Eren (Wine Director, Ayza Wine & Chocolate Bar)

Some say pairing wine with chocolate can’t be done, but if you have the right wine to complement the right chocolate it can be a match made in heaven! You can find a lovely partner for any kind of chocolate whether you are pairing a delicate white chocolate, or a lively dark chocolate with wine.

IMG_4192-7Mr. Chocolate Chef Jacques Torres and I had paired some certain types of wines and chocolate for the ‘CHEERS TO CHOCOLATE’ WINE & CHOCOLATE TASTING Event, which took place at AYZA WEST VILLAGE on NOVEMBER 19, 2013.  During the delicious tasting adventure, we saw how various wines complement chocolate, and vice versa and experienced the beautiful synergy of selected wines and chocolate.   I’d like to share it with you as well.

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Tasting the wine: The “Four S’s Rule”

See – Hold the glass up at a slight angle and observe how the light passes through it. Both red and white wine should appear brilliant in color, rather than cloudy and dull. Looking at the color of the wine will often give you clues to its style. In general, lighter-colored wines will be more delicate and vibrant, while darker-hued wines (both red and white) will be more full-bodied and ripe.
Swirl – Hold the base firmly on the table and give it a good swirl to get oxygen to the wine and help it “open up.”
Smell – You’re checking to make sure the wine has not “turned” or been stored improperly. Smell for off odors reminiscent of musty cardboard or vinegar, which means the wine is flawed and should be replaced. Don’t send back a wine just because you don’t like it, but if the wine smells off to you, don’t hesitate to alert your server.
Sip – The best way to really get a good taste of the wine is to suck in a bit of air – it’s the oxygen that helps to open up the wine after you have taken a sip.

Tasting the chocolate: “Engage all five senses”

IMG_4373-37Sight – First, look at the chocolate. Fine chocolate will have a nice shine with a tight, fine grain and even coloring.
Smell – Before tasting, rub the piece of chocolate to warm and release its aroma. Fine chocolate should have a rich and deep chocolate smell, with undertones ranging from dried fruits to toasted nuts to roasted coffee.
Sound – A piece of fine chocolate will have a crisp “snap” when broken
Touch – Fine chocolate should melt readily in your mouth into a velvety smooth liquid. It should not feel grainy, gritty or waxy.
Taste – Fine chocolate should taste full and balanced (not too sweet, not too bitter) Depending on the cocoa beans used in manufacturing, nuances of taste can range from floral notes or hints of dried fruit.

We paired 5 different wines with 10 specific type of chocolates:

Prosecco – Brut Hi-  Veneto N.V Italy     &   Love Bug  / Alize Hearts of Passion
Chardonnay – Chalone-  Monterey County 2011 USA    &   Heavenly Hazelnut  /  Almondine
Garnacha – AYZA –  Aragon 2011 Spain   &    Grand Cru  /  Ménage a Trois
Tempranillo – Manon –  Castilla 2010 Spain     &     Wicked Fun   /  80%
Pinotage – Sweet Smaak- Western Cape 2011 South Africa   &   Bin 27 Port   /   Golden Espresso


                    1.     Prosecco  &  Love Bug    /   Alize Hearts of Passion

PROSSECCO – Hi! – Veneto, Italy N.V: A beautiful, floral & citrus scented white sparkling. Palate is soft, with a clean green apple and citrus fruit.

Love Bug: Key lime ganache kissed with white chocolate
Alize Hearts of Passion: Fresh passion fruit and Alize Liquor

                        2.     Chardonnay  &  Heavenly Hazelnut   /   Almondine

CHARDONNAY – Chalone – Monterey County 2011 USA: Bright, fruit-focused flavors keep cadence with sweet essence of oak with this white.  Baked pear, burned apple and sweet tangerine are accented by wafts of floral and nutmeg. Well-balanced, the fruit remains bright and crisp.

Heavenly Hazelnut: Fresh ground hazelnuts in milk chocolate
Almondine: Crushed candied almonds with Jacques Torres signature on top

IMG_4350-29  3.     Garnacha & Grand Cru   /   Ménage a Trois

GARNACHA – AYZA – Aragon 2011 Spain:
This medium body red offers up notes of smoke, mineral, and wild cherry that mingle with layers of ripe cherry fruit on palate.

Grand Cru: Fine red wine complemented by rich dark chocolate
Ménage a Trois: Jacques’ twist on three flavors. The recipe is secret.  Always different, always delicious.

4.     Tempranillo  &  80%   /   Wicked Fun

Tempranillo – Manon – Castilla 2010 Spain: A unique bouquet; mix of berries, sweet spices, coconut and cinnamon. It’s a fresh full body red with a balanced expression and intense flavors.

80%: Intense dark chocolate ganache with a high cocoa content
Wicked Fun: Chocolate ganache spiced up with ancho and chipotle chilies

                5.     Pinotage  & Bin 27 Port   /   Golden Espresso

Pinotage – Sweet Smaak- Western Cape 2011 South Africa: This South African red has smoky, bramble and earthy flavors and a touch of chocolate mocha. Its sweet taste is not overwhelming.

Bin 27 Port: Fonseca Bin 27 Reserve Porto infused in dark chocolate
Golden Espresso: Rich espresso with a touch of gold

For more information and tasting request pls contact us as