Get involved! Send your photos, video, news & views by texting KS NEWS to 80360 or e-mail us
6:00am Saturday 12th October 2013 in Lifestyle
Fancy a drink? Our drinks columnist Sam Wylie-Harris masters the art of chocolate and wine pairing.
Dark and irresistible
Some of us may not need a special occasion to indulge in the sweeter things in life - but in the meltdown to National Chocolate Week, running from October 14 until October 20, vino lovers have the perfect excuse to double their pleasure.
Delicious and mood boosting, uncorking a dark label to compliment the flavours of our favourite treat engages the senses with its taste and aromas; and finding the right combo feels like a little 'hello from heaven' with every delectable sip.
In fact, with the trend for chocolate boutiques and artisan chocolates, cocoa and wine pairings are becoming more fashionable. But contrary to popular belief, champagne and chocolate are not natural bedfellows.
Instead, save the fresh, dry bubbles for savoury snacks and discover how fine, dark chocolates suit inky, full-bodied reds. Creamy milk chocolate tastes divine with a sweet moscatel, while white chocolate and fruit and nut selections come into their own with a glass of sherry.
To satisfy those cocoa cravings and enhance your drinking pleasure, here are some suggestions to grace the wine rack.
Carmenere is Chile's calling card and when the rich, spicy, savoury flavours of this grape are blended with cabernet sauvignon and a splash of shiraz, reds such as Estevez Cabernet Sauvignon Carmenere 2011, Valle de Maule, Chile (£4.99, Aldi) take on a soft, ripe, earthy mouthfeel with a lick of spice, firm tannins and with alluring aromas of cocoa, this a wine to enjoy with dark chocolate bars.
A couple of notches up the scale, Marques de Casa Concha Carmenere 2010, Chile (£11.95, www.winedirect.co.uk) is from a reliable producer with consistently good wines. Pure carmenere in all its rich, ripe, unadulterated glory, the wine spends 16 months in French oak, which gives it a soft cushioning and an ample core of blackcurrant and plummy fruits laced with dark chocolate, vanilla notes and a long, lush, velvety finish.
To help celebrate National Chocolate Week, the folks at Lindt have teamed up with a master of wine to create some delicious pairings, and a Chilean merlot was voted the best match with Lindt Excellence 70% Cocoa. For a warm-fruited, delicious example that's merlot dominant and topped up with carmenere and cabernet sauvignon, try Concha Y Toro Trio Merlot 2012, Chile (£8.50, www.slurp.co.uk) which displays all the right spiced dark fruit, choc notes with smooth tannins on the expressive brambly berry finish.
Italian wines are renowned for being great with food, and for creamy milk chocolate moments the light flavours and low tannins in a basic valpolicella, such as Winemakers' Selection by Sainsbury's Valpolicella 2012, Italy (£5.99, Sainsbury's), will compliment the sweetness. Soft and juicy with sweet-sour cherries and red berry flavours, this rustic red will work just as well with tiramisu.
For a tasting adventure that can't be pinned to one specific type of chocolate, Rubis Chocolate Wine, Spain (£13, 70cl, www.harveynichols.com) can be enjoyed at room temperature, poured over ice, used in cocktails, measured into your favourite chocolate recipe and even used to cook with red meat. Made from 100% tempranillo from the La Mancha region near Madrid, it's a fortified wine with chocolate essences that tastes utterly delicious with pretty much anything you fancy.
And for the sweetest ending, tipplers drawn to tawny dessert wines will find the fresh, luscious floral fruit in Moscatel de Setubal, Bacalhoa 2009, Portugal (£10.70, 75cl, www.tanners-wines.co.uk) adds a honeyed twist to white chocolate truffles. Behind a veil of sweet apricot, there are some underlying chocolate and raisin notes in this fruity moscatel which should be served lightly chilled.
Or for pure, unadulterated indulgence, try a glass of Caversham Cream Sherry, Jerez, Spain (£5.29, 75cl, Aldi) with chocolate fruit and nut bars, white chocolate or chocolate mousse. The dark richness, fruitcake notes, caramel and soft raisin flavours are extremely moreish, and one chilled glass can't help but lead to another.
:: Best buy
I'd expect no less... To bring even more sparkle to Sunday nights and mirror the glamour of Downton Abbey, SPAR have introduced a Wine & Dine with Downton promotion and reduced the price of its award winning champagne and prosecco.
Three bright young things that offer great value for money, try SPAR Marquis Belrive Champagne Brut NV, Decanter Bronze Award Winner (£15, from £25.49, from now until November 13); Perlezza Prosecco Rose Spumante, IWSC Silver Award Winner (£6, from £9, until October 23); and Perlezza Prosecco Brut, IWSC Silver Award Winner (£6, from £9, until October 23).
:: Liquid news
Still fabulous at 40... Browns Bar & Brasserie first opened its doors in the fashionable seaside town of Brighton in 1973, and its successful recipe of great food, wine and cocktails can now be enjoyed in 27 locations across the country.
To mark its 40th anniversary, Browns Forty Years In The Making (£10, from www.amazon.co.uk, available now) charts its first foray into wining and dining the nation with colourful artwork to complement the dozens of food and drink recipes, with nostalgic treats such as top-selling chart bands, fashion statements and sporting highlights across the decades.
For more info visit www.browns-restaurants.co.uk/locations
:: National Chocolate Week runs from October 14-20
Comments are closed on this article.