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Our Director of Marketing, Cathy Wisloski, was on WCAX last night, talking about pairing our chocolate with local wine from Shelburne Vineyard. Watch the clip below for some great pairing notes, and read more about the pairings she mentions:

1. Lake View White with our Crème Fraîche Truffle: This wine has a light crisp flavor profile, with a little acidity and a little sweetness. The crème fraiche folded into our smooth milk chocolate in this truffle means there is a slight tartness to its flavor. Together, the sweet crispness in the wine offsets the tanginess in the truffle, creating that elusive, third flavor that only the perfect pairing can produce.

2. Louise Swenson with our Bergamont and Tea infused truffle: The astringency of the tea in this truffle is blended with the richness of the chocolate. Together, the chocolate highlights the fruitiness of the wine, and the wine lifts out the orange spice in the truffle.

3. Duet Ice Wine with our Caramelized almonds: In this pairing, the rich, luscious, thick body, of the wine is complemented by the buttery, rich flavor of the caramelized almonds. Together, the nuttiness in the almonds and the hints of apricot in the wine combine to create an incredible desert pairing

4. Vermont Marquette with our 70% dark Peru Chocolate: The Peruvian origin of the beans in this dark chocolate means it contain deep cherry notes, and these help to bring out the subtle spiciness of the Vermont Marquette, which is rich in a deep red fruit flavor.

Is all this talk making your mouth water? Come Visit Us at Shelburne Vineyard this Saturday, February 9, from 11 am to 5pm, to try it for yourself!


Might it be fair to say that traditionally it has been men who buy chocolate for women? Let’s think about that – does it have to be so? Are we implying that chocolate is inherently feminine? Now let’s change those stereotypes and start to think about what types of gifts us ladies can get for our husbands and boyfriends.

If chocolate is associated with women, beer is more often associated with men. When we put the two together, we create the kind of perfection you have your heart set on for Valentine’s Day. Fortunately, we have a page of our website dedicated to beer and chocolate pairing. You can also find more pairing options listed in other blog articles. Buying a gorgeous bottle of specialty ale and a nice box of chocolates is a great way to play to both sides of Valentine’s Day, and who knows, he might even share! In addition to the ones listed in the links above, here are a few more pairing ideas:

Peak Organic Ale and Chocolate Caramel Hearts

A New England Organic favorite, Peak Organic Nut Brown Ale, is widely available and has a light smooth and nutty flavor with hints of caramel and toasted malt. For Valentine’s Day, give him a bag of our Caramel Hearts to go along with it. The caramel tones in the beer itself along with its slightly sweet aftertaste complement the hearts well, and the lightness of the beer will stop it from overpowering the milk chocolate covering on these hearts.

Hobgoblin Beer and Spicy Chocolate

Stepping further afield to a foreign land, try Wychwood’s Hobgoblin, a British Beer and a great example of an ESB (Extra Strong/Special Bigger.) This dark, roasty beer has aromas of toffee and chocolate with a buttery finish. Package it along with our 5-piece truffle box and see how well the smooth ganache in the dark chocolate truffles works with the beer!

Wine and Chocolate

But it isn’t all about beer: you might want to heat up your evening with an organic spicy Aztec chocolate bar. To top off your gift, give him a few of those bars along with a nice bottle of red zinfandel, perhaps from the Ridge Lytton Springs or Geyserville. The 55% chocolate rounds out the acidity in these wines and counterbalances the tannins, while the pumpkin seeds enhance the wine’s roastiness and the cayenne spice in the chocolate balances the wine's fruity tones.

WhistlePig Whiskey and Chocolate Truffles

Finally, our newest style of truffle, the revel, features the Vermont-made WhistlePig Whiskey in one of the chocolates included. Get your guy a bottle of this fine rye whiskey (which has earned the highest marks from whiskey aficionados around the world) along with our chocolates. What could be more manly and yet more seductive?

The choice is yours, but whatever you decide to get your husband, boyfriend or good guy friend (with maybe the potential for more), don’t be intimidated by tradition.


How To Host a Chocolate Tasting

Posted on November 20, 2012 12:44 PM by Caitlin

Like it or not, the holiday season is fast approaching. To many, this means the joy of being surrounded by friends and family, be it for a Thanksgiving feast or for a carol-singing session around the Christmas tree. One thing is for certain, though: the season is full of opportunities to entertain. Hot cocoa and cookies is still a great traditional way to placate the grandkids (and we do have some delicious hot cocoa, if you’re so inclined,) but if you’re looking to become the host that everyone is talking about this season, read on.

For the true foodies out there, chocolate is more than just a delicious confection. Sure, it comes with health benefits, but it also comes packed with a variety of different tones and flavors that can be parsed and paired with everything from beer and wine to cheese. To impress your guests, host a chocolate tasting or pairing party. Here’s what to do:

First, you’ll want to make sure to learn how to taste chocolate. As tempting as it is just to eat it, to truly gain an understanding of all of the varieties of flavor in each different chocolate, you will want to make sure you involve all of your senses in the process. Here’s what we suggest you look for when tasting chocolate. And if you want to know how we do it, read our notes on our Sensory Panel.

To host a chocolate tasting party in the purest form, try looking at our single source bars. The beans in these bars come from just one location, so the flavors vary tremendously. You always want to start with the lightest chocolate first, so:

  1. 54% Dark ChocolateStart with our 54% Dark Chocolate. This isn’t a single source – it’s a combination of beans from Ghana, Sao Thome (an island off of the west coast of Africa,) and Tanzania – but it’s a great place to get your chocolate bearings, since this is the dark chocolate we use most frequently to make our truffles and other treats. Try and think about all of the flavors involved. What do you taste under the “chocolate” flavor?

  2. Sao Thome 70% Dark ChocolateMove on to our Sao Thome. This should taste quite different from the 54%, and not just because it is a little more bitter due to the higher cocoa percentage. Can you discern some earthy flavors? Maybe a slight hint of vanilla? Some people even taste a bit of olive.

  3. Peru 70% Dark ChocolateNext try our Peru. This is the same cacao percentage as the Sao Thome, but the beans come from the other side of the world. Can you taste the difference? It is much creamier, and has much fruitier tones than the Sao Thome. Can you taste a slightly unripe banana? There are also some nice floral tones in there. One thing to note about our Peru, is that, unlike most of our chocolate, which is made with about 20% cocoa butter, our Peru has 40% cocoa butter, making it deliciously smooth and creamy.

  4. Tanzania 75% Dark ChocolateNow taste our Tanzania. This is a 75%, so it’s a little higher in cocoa than the last two you tried, but again, for something so close in cocoa content, it tastes surprisingly different. How does this compare to the Peru and Sao Thome? What types of flavors can you pick out? Perhaps a ripe banana? We use this one to make our delicious fudge sauce (available only in our retail stores) because the fruity tones blend deliciously with ice cream.

  5. African Blend 80% Dark ChocolateAs a penultimate step, move on to the African blend. At 80%, this is the highest cocoa content chocolate we produce. It is made from the same blend as the 54% (Ghana, Sao Thome and Tanzania). How does this compare to the others? What can you taste?

  6. And finally, we have worked our way through higher and higher cocoa percentages so now go back and try one more bite of the 54%. Has the taste changed from what you originally perceived? Are you surprised?

 

Of course, doing an entire tasting like this means two things: first, that, by the end, unless you take very small bites of each (which I suggest you do!) you’ll most likely have had enough chocolate to last you the rest of the evening. Second, you will also realize quite quickly that it is important to have water on hand, if only to cleanse the palate a little.

If you’re looking to do a pairing, though, alcohol is also a great way to refresh your palate. The natural acidity, particularly in beer, will help rid your mouth of some of the fat residue left from the chocolate. To find beer and wine that pair nicely with chocolate, use the flavors you discerned in the chocolates to find drinks with similar or complementary tones. Here’s what we came up with when we hosted a party.

We also have a history of pairing our chocolates with beer. Look through what we’ve done in the past here.

Finally, why not progress a little further, and involve another Vermont specialty: cheese? You can find some of our pairing suggestions for chocolate and cheese here.

Have you thought of a good chocolate pairing, or discovered an interesting flavor in one of our chocolates? Post your ideas for a chocolate pairing on our Facebook Page


Blue Bandana Chocolate

What do wine and chocolate have in common? Aside from the fact that they can pair very well together, quite a lot!

Last Thursday evening, the Echo Center hosted a wine tasting event, featuring wines from several terroirs in France and Italy. The wines were delicious, but what made the event extra interesting was the table of our Blue Bandana Chocolate that also made an appearance. With both high-quality wine and high-quality chocolate present, it wasn't a hard step to start to draw comparisons between the two, in terms of both tasting and origin.

Let’s take the concept of a terroir: A terroir, as Jason Zuliani from Dedalus Wine explained, is a sense of location and place for the grapes. As Jason put it, "this wine exists to communicate place." All aspects of that place can influence the wine, from the soil to the climate to the age of the grape vines. Here are two quick examples from the event:

The age of the vines played an important part in the flavors that came out. Older vines produce fewer grapes, and those they produce tend to be more concentrated, so that the older the vine, the more it can contribute to something in the flavor. For instance, there were two 2010 Riofavara "Nero D’Avola" Sicilian wines at the event: the "Spaccaforno" and the "Sciavè." Both are produced in the same year, but the Sciavè used older vines (43 years instead of 30). The difference in taste was clear! The older vines had a more rounded flavor with bolder tones.

The location and soil of the vines changes the flavor of the grapes created. For example, with the Chablis we tasted, there were two types: Chablis and Petit Chablis, both made from Chardonnay grapes and grown in the same town. But the Petit Chablis, had slightly less limestone in its soil, whereas the Chablis had more. As a result, the Petit Chablis was a bit more crisp and fresh, and the Chablis more rounded.

Now, let’s take these two examples over to chocolate:

Blue Bandana at Echo

The plants themselves: Cocoa trees have a lot in common with grape vines. For one thing, both have to reach maturity before they begin to produce. In the case of grape vines, this can be 3-5 years. For cocoa trees, it’s 5-6. In both plants, a lot of thought goes into the specific type of plant being used. In the cocoa world more and more farmers and producers are getting the skills they need to graft "super producer" trees onto trees that produce fewer cocoa pods. The wine industry is slightly ahead here, but it’s the same concept.

Location: Sourcing cocoa beans, and the soil type and area in which the trees are grown, is just as important with chocolate as it is with wine. We produce several varieties of chocolate from specific sources, including our Tanzania, Peru, Sao Thome, and, from Blue Bandana, a Madagascar and a Guatemala. All of these have differentiating tastes, based on the locations where they were produced. For instance, Madagascar is a huge spice producer, so when you take a bite of our chocolate, you can taste the hints of cinnamon and vanilla wrapped in chocolate. Guatemala, on the other hand, grows a lot of bananas, and those flavors translate into the chocolate itself.

So you see, terroir is important to both wine and chocolate!

Finally, what’s better than tasting wine and chocolate? Tasting them together to see how they work! From the various combinations around, we found two that were true winners:

Chocolate Pairing Set

1. The Blue Bandana Madagascar Black Pepper with the Sang Des Cailloux Cuvée Lopy: The peppery taste of the chocolate brought out new and different sweetnesses in the wine, and the chocolate just blossomed with the help of this delicious red from the Southern Rhône.

2. The Blue Bandana Guatemala with the 1997 Chablis: 1997 was a great growing year for the grapes, and age has only intensified the almost honey-like flavors in this wine. Taste it with the Guatemala and you’ll be amazed at how it brings out the fruit tones in what I often consider to be a very flowery chocolate.

And, for those of you who attended the event and want to remember, or for any of you who missed it and want to recreate it on your own, here’s the list of wines we tried. Don’t forget to continue to experiment on pairing them with our chocolate!

Domaine le Sang Des Cailloux
Winemaker: Serge Férigoule
Country: France
Region: Southern Rhone/Vacqueryas
2010 Sang des Cailloux Vacqueyras
2010 Sang des Cailloux Vacqueyras "Cuvée Lopy"
2010 Sang des Cailloux Vacqueyras Blanc

Riofavara
Winemaker: Massimo Padova
Country: Italy
Region: Sicily/Eloro
2010 Riofavara Eloro Nero d’Avola "Spaccaforno"
2010 Riofavara Eloro Nero d’Avola "Sciavè"

Roland Lavantureux
Winemaker: Roland Lavantureux
Country: France
Region: Burgundy/Chablis
2010 Lavantureux Chablis
2011 Lavantureux Chablis
2010 Lavantureux Petit Chablis
2011 Lavantureux Petit Chablis
2008 Lavantureux Chablis magnum
1997 Lavantureux Chablis magnum


How to Pair Chocolate

Posted on September 28, 2012 11:26 AM by Caitlin
Chocolate and Beer Pairings

We love the chocolate pairing craze going around right now, and we have embraced chocolate pairing wholeheartedly. However, a recent Italian study concluded that chocolate paired well with drinks depending on its cocoa content percentage. We’re glad that there are scientific studies being conducted on the tastes of chocolate, and we do love a good pairing, but at Lake Champlain chocolates, we’ve been pairing chocolate with wine and other things (like beer and cheese) for years, so we like to take a slightly more nuanced approach to the exercise than by simply looking at the cocoa percentage.

Think about it this way: to us, pairing chocolate based only on its percentage would be like pairing wine based solely on its alcohol content. While in general, wines with a lower alcohol content will be sweeter, there is so much else to take into account that it seems a little silly to just base pairings on one aspect of the overall flavor. Take origin, fermentation method, or type of grape, for example. These same considerations can also be thought about with chocolate:

Cocoa PodOrigin: The theobroma cacao (the tree that produces the cocoa beans that we use in chocolate creation), grows in hot, tropical conditions, about twenty degrees north or south of the equator. This region is known as the cocoa belt. But think about it: that’s a lot of different areas in which the cocoa tree can grow. Would the soils of Tanzania be the same as the soils of Peru? Absolutely not! As a result, cocoa beans from one area have a distinct taste that is different from cocoa beans from another area.

Cocoa BeansTypes of Cocoa Beans: There are three main varieties of the theoborma cacao tree: Criollo, Forastero, and Trinitario (which is a cross between the other two.) The trees are grown in different parts of the world, and yield different types of beans. (You can read more about the differentiations between the beans here.) This also affects the final product.

Cocoa Bean Fermentation in GuatemalaFermentation method: There are many different methods of cocoa bean fermentation used today that help to determine the quality of the final bean. Sometimes the beans are layered with banana leaves in wooden boxes, sometimes in plastic boxes, and sometimes they are simply left in heaps. Sometimes the beans are turned, and other times they are left to sit. All of this can change what the bean will taste like at the end of this process, and consequently what the chocolate made from the bean will taste like. (For a very detailed look at this, check out this paper on the subject.)

Eric Lampman roasting Cocoa Beans for Blue Bandana ChocolatesRoasting method: The beans used in chocolate are roasted, and, just like with coffee beans, there are an infinite number of variations that can take place during the cocoa roasting, including the heat of the roast, what machinery is used for the roast and the length of the roast.

So you can see, there are many facets of chocolate making that can affect the overall tone and flavor of a simple bar of chocolate, even before the cocoa is processed with other ingredients. Our bean-to-bar sub-brand, Blue Bandana, has been working hard to find the best way to do all of this, from working with the growers in Guatemala and Madagascar to grow the best beans, to experimenting with various roasting techniques. Their three bars, Guatemala, Madagascar, and Madagascar Wild Pepper all show the fruits of this labor, and they’re now available in our stores. (Don’t worry, we’ll sell them online eventually too!)

There you have it. We believe there is more to pairing chocolate than cocoa percentage. Here are some quick tips on pairing, though you’ll certainly want to look at our tasting tips for more on what to do to taste chocolate before you pair:

Consider the tastes within each chocolate: The four basic tastes are sweet, sour, salt and bitter. Think about how these four tastes interact with each other in the chocolate, and what can be added to help bring out certain flavors that might be more hidden.

Think about the way you would describe the chocolate and find a wine, or food, or other drink, to match: Would you describe the chocolate as fruity? How about buttery or creamy? Maybe it has an earthy tone or a caramel flavor to it. These terms can also be used to describe wine. For instance, Zinfandel is known for its peppery and dark berry notes, so it could match well with our Spicy Aztec Dark Chocolate because the complex cayenne and cinnamon flavors as well as the tobacco notes of the chocolate itself complement the notes in the wine.

Consider both complementary and contrasting flavors: In the study that sparked this post, the researchers noted that 70% dark chocolate tended to pair well with stouts. However, the dark and typically bitter profile of a stout could be elevated with a lighter chocolate, especially one with fruity or sweet notes. For this reason, we like to pair stouts with our organic mango truffle. It might also be well complemented by a coffee-flavored chocolate, like our french roast truffle. Sometimes, opposites attract to create a beautiful full flavor that you wouldn’t have gotten without either component in your pairing. Other times, if the flavors are similar, they enhance what you were already tasting. Either way, it can be a win!

Whatever you do, make sure you enjoy it, and I hope that if you are pairing chocolate with drinks or food, you find some delicious combinations. Let us know if you find something extraordinary!


A Citrus Bomb!

Posted on August 2, 2012 11:20 AM by Meghan

Alchemist Heady Topper (8.0%ABV) with Dark Chocolate Orange Peel and Dark Chocolate Covered Almond.

 Last but not least, here is our final pairing from the Brewer’s Festival. 

We admit, it took us awhile to find a chocolate that could handle this double IPA; but once we hit upon our dark chocolate orange peel, it created a citrus bomb! 

Alchemist’s Heady Topper carries a huge aroma and even bigger flavor. A variety of citrus (orange & grapefruit), bitter and a sweetness of pineapple are led by a piney aroma.  Coupled with the orange peel, there is a cohesive play of sweet and sour.

The chocolate almond’s bitterness complements this big beer, meanwhile roasted almond is boosted when tasted after a gulp of the Heady Topper.

While many of the beers we pair with are local to the Vermont area, we hope this encourages you to try your own local craft brews with some chocolate.  It’s an experience that will literally change how you think about beer AND chocolate!


Chocolate Beer: A Vermont Partnership

Posted on July 31, 2012 10:39 AM by Meghan

 

Without further delay, here is beer and chocolate pairing number two from the Brewer’s Festival.

Last spring our friends at VT Pub & Brewery gave us a call and said they wanted to try brewing a chocolate stout and wondered if we would be interested in providing them with our gourmet chocolate.  We spent, oh about, one second thinking about it before we said “of course!”

And so the Lake Champlain Chocolates Stout was born.  Brewed with Madagascar cocoa nibs roasted here at LCC, this stout is the Pub’s first beer to go through the experimental line three times and move to 14BBL production!  Rich, dark, smooth and sweet, this is a full-bodied milk stout.  We’ve been a big fan of this beer since we first tasted in April 2011, but we had yet to try a pairing until this year’s Brewer’s Festival.

We found the organic butter and heavy cream in our Organic Vanilla Truffle was the perfect complement this milk stout and the deep, roasty, chocolate flavors blended nicely with the Madagascar bourbon vanilla. 

A chocolate beer and a chocolate truffle: this pairing proves you can never have too much chocolate!


What a Pair: Sour Wheat & Salted Caramel!

Posted on July 25, 2012 4:22 PM by Meghan


The scene on Saturday at the Burlington Waterfront.

We take beer and chocolate pairings very seriously here at LCC.  Long nights of hard work, tasting, pouring, tasting, pouring some more, it can go on and on.  Someone has to put in the hours, right?

Well, we can finally share all that hard work with you!  This year’s pairings at the VT Brewer’s Festival did not disappoint.  In fact, it seems to get better and better every year.  And the rest of you must think so too since we had a standing room only for both sessions! 

Without further ado, here is the first pairing: 
Zero Gravity ,a local brewer located at American Flatbread, collaborated with Otter Creek to create the Berliner Weisse (3.0%ABV) paired with our Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramel.
This sour wheat beer, with traditional brew relevance to Northern Germany, is very light with a tartness resembling champagne. The sea salt caramel has complex cooked dairy and caramelized sugar flavors. A touch of sea salt highlights the dairy and lactic sour. When tasted together, the beer’s high sour lifts the cooked dairy flavors of the caramel.

Give it a try! 
Look for the rest of the pairings in the next few days.


Chocolate, Wine & Cheese for the Holidays

Posted on December 22, 2010 9:38 AM by Meghan

Gourmet Chocolate. Aged Cheese. Fine Wine.  All three are always present at holiday parties and dinners, so why not combine them into one dessert that will be sure to continue the conversation late into the night?  Not only is this dessert idea unique and different, it’s foolproof and takes the stress away from spending hours in the kitchen trying to whip up a festive masterpiece.  Most cheeses and red wines are best served at room temperature, so this platter can be made well ahead of time, before guests even arrive.

It can be overwhelming to try and perfectly pair each cheese with each chocolate and each wine, so we’re here to help. Since we know chocolate, chocolate was chosen first and the cheese and wines were picked to accompany it.  The key is to keep everything simple: not only for the host’s own sanity, but also to not overwhelm guests.  Here are some pairing suggestions:

 


•    Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate is usually 50%-75% cacao and has strong complex flavors with nuances that are nutty, spicy, floral, earthy, and has a balanced aftertaste that is not too sweet.  Considering these flavor profiles, choose a savory Brie cheese or mild blue cheese to enhance the undertones of the chocolate.  Dark chocolate pairs well with full-bodied red wines: such as a Cabernet Sauvignon, which highlight the fruity and peppery notes in the chocolate, or a bold Australian Shiraz, which brings out the chocolate’s spicy subtleties.


•    Chili-infused Chocolate
On the coldest of winter nights, add a little spice to the chocolate selection by including chili chocolates, such as our Organic Spicy Aztec Squares or Aztec Chocolate Truffles.  The extra kick of cayenne and cinnamon in this chocolate nicely complements a ripened goat cheese.  A fruity, zesty red wine, such as a full-bodied Zinfandel will balance the raciness of the chocolate.

•    Sea Salt Caramels
Options are endless when it comes to choosing a chocolate covered caramel. One suggestion is our ever popular Sea Salt Caramel.  The buttery caramel with a touch of sea salt pairs well with a fresh goat cheese and wines such as a Late Harvest Riesling or a Demi-Sec Champagne.  These wines both have a honey and floral bouquet, which complement the caramel well.

•    Chocolate Covered Nuts
If these are included on the pairings plate, be sure to have a back-up supply.  Guests won’t be able to eat just one of these irresistible sweet-and-salty confections.  The saltiness of the nuts marry well with hard aged cheeses, such as an 18-month cheddar or a gouda.  A Pinot Noir, with its toasted and spiced berry notes is a natural complement to the chocolate and roasted almonds.

There is no one correct way to create a holiday chocolate, cheese and wine pairing.  With a little help of the local specialty food store’s wine and cheese experts, the possibilities are endless!


You wouldn’t expect to find Lake Champlain Chocolates at Palmetto Bluff’s Music To Your Mouth Festival – a week long celebration of the Low Country cuisine and lifestyle.  I was fortunate to attend the fourth annual event this year and joined Jim, as host of the Chocolate Decadence Cruise Aboard the Grace.

On a beautiful, sunny fall afternoon, we boarded the 60 foot antique motor yacht and spent two hours touring the May River.  Most of the guests were intrigued with the chocolate, cheese, beer, wine, and conversation; however for me, the highlight was seeing dolphins frolicking in the water.

Our menu began with Champagne, the ideal beverage for ANY chocolate!

We served an unexpected ‘cheese course’ next.  Fresh goat cheese from Sweet Grass Dairy spread on a simple cracker topped with a Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramel.  Guests were surprised to see a whole caramel atop a cracker with cheese.  Once they tasted it and experienced the salty-sweet-sour explosion of flavor, they were convinced this should be on the menu for their next cocktail party. Next up was a Sharp Cheddar Cheese with Caramelized Almonds.  With most of the guests being from the Northeast and accustomed to a sharp cheddar from Grafton or Shelburne Farms, all agreed that the pairing with the caramelized almonds was good but would have been better with a more pungent cheese.

At this point, our palates were looking for liquid refreshment so we shifted gears and got into the beers.  The locally brewed Thomas Creek IPA, was a refreshing choice with the fruitiness of Dark Chocolate Covered Orange Peels.  We headed to the darker side next pairing the Thomas Creek Porter with our newest creation, the Peanut Chocolate Caramel.  The saltiness from the roasted peanuts balanced nicely with the chocolatey notes in the Porter.

Savory  and bold flavors were next – Blue Cheese alongside the Organic 70% Dark Chocolate Truffle.  The dairy notes from the butter and cream in the Truffle counterbalanced the bold, salty, and sour of the Blue Cheese.  While I’m not a big fan of blue cheese, the chocolate offered a nice ‘sweetener’ to cleanse my palate.

The Organic Vanilla Truffle, also in 70% dark chocolate was matched with Leitz’s Reisling, Rheingau which offered a sweet honeyed nose that was ripe, melony and pure. The palate was fresh and limey with overly bright apple fruit notes.

Our last pairing of the afternoon was to be with a single vineyard Zinfandel from Quivira's Wine Creek Ranch vineyard, a hilly area in Sonoma's Dry Creek Valley.  It was an enjoyable Zin, which became even more enjoyable after it was opened up a bit.   Not too jammy, hints of pepper, fresh thyme and a nice finish.  The plan was to recommend the Spicy Aztec Organic Chocolate with it.  I really liked this combination.  Jim much preferred the simple 54% Dark Chocolate.  We gave our guests the option of about six choices – seemed that most did indeed prefer the spicy Aztec with the spicy Zin.

A great time was had by all and it was fun to see these chocolate lovers at other events throughout the weekend, including Friday night’s Supper Club Block Party where I was fortunate to eat the food of the Bayou region by Bravo’s Top Chef Winner, Kevin Sbraga.  Not only was his food outstanding; his personality and conversation was equally enjoyable.  Both of us got to enjoy Saturday’s festival on the Green at Palmettto Bluff’s Village – eating and drinking food from the most talented local artisans.  Gail Simmons, from Food & Wine Magazine and judge of Top Chef, moderated the cooking demonstrations by other Top Chef competitors like Chef Kevin Gillespie of Atlanta’s Woodfire Grill and Chef Kenny Gilbert of Nippers Beach Grille in Jacksonville, FL.  They demonstrated that simple food is often most enjoyable and that holds true for chocolate pairings.  Experiment & intrigue the guests at your next event!