Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Chocolate & Wine Pairing...

Last night I went to a class at Tony Caputo's Market & Deli ( with my friend Diane. It was an eye opener as far as my knowledge of chocolate. The class ( Intro to Fine Chocolates and Wine Pairing) touted itself as---
"an experience in the very best examples of the world's most romantic food. Not only will you enjoy sexy pairings of chocolate and wine, but you will learn everything you need to become a chocolate connoisseur and why most people are pairing all the wrong wines with chocolate."

I was amazed at how little I knew about chocolate as the class progressed on. The teacher (Matt Caputo) proved to be a VERY well versed in his chocolate. He went over a breif history and quickly dispelled some common myths about chocolate. These myths? Some of them I will admit that I had believed before the class like: the darker the better the chocolate, the more bitter it is the better the chocolate is, and the truth about Hershey's Chocolate. I was never fond of milk chocolate or Hershey's Chocolate before the class but afterwards... well, let's just say that it's like comparing a fine restaurant to a McDonald's. I don't think I ever want to go back!

Matt further went on to talk about the three major bean types, where they were grown, and the harvesting. Then there's the whole process of cleaning, roasting, hulling, grinding, coching, and tempering. Some of which took place in the country of origin and some in the chocolate maker's business. Some of it, I will admit, went right on over my head. It was a great deal to cover in one sitting. But it made me appreciate chocolate all the more.

Next, there was a short talk about pairing wine with chocolate. The magic immutable rule is this; the wine must be sweeter than the chocolate, or the chocolate must be sweeter than the wine. WOW! All of those times when I had been told to pair a rich bold red wine with chocolate were all wrong.

Then the taste testing was the funniest. 8 different chocolates were tasted; each progressing with better quality. The wines were getting sweeter as the tasting progressed. I will admit that there was one chocolate that was listed under the Perfect Chocolate that I did not like at all. It was described to me as leathery. Leathery? That's something that I would want strapped on to my man NOT my chocolate! Then there was a single vintage Sherry that was paired with some of the finer chocolates that was just SO syruppy and alcoholic that my palate was repelled.

My favorite chocolate ended up being a mid-range fine chocolate called Djakarta and produced by Pralus. It had this nice woodsy smokey flavor to it, and I enjoyed the texture of it on my tongue. I purchased a bar of it as I left. Another impressive fact about Caputo's is that they have over 270 different chocolate bars, and even some chocolates that are available in bulk. All I can say is...VERY TEMPTING!! I'm now very curious to try my bar in the privacy of my own home without any wine pairing.


  1. Wow. I never knew chocolate could be so complicated but then again aren't the best things either very complicated or very simple?

  2. This sounds like fun. I am not a big chocolate fan, but then again, I was not a big coffee fan until I tasted good coffee.

  3. It was a great deal of fun, and I was really surprised because I was not much of a fan of chocolate before.

    WOW! It's like there's a whole new world out there of chocolate that I never knew exisited, and this must be true of a great deal of specific foods like-- wine, coffee, etc.

    I'm really glad that Diane had mentioned the class to me!