Vine Talk: Asian gourmands find new chocolate and wine pairings
Curtis Marsh is a Singapore-based independent wine writer and commentator with nearly 30 years experience in the wine industry. The opinions expressed are his own. His website is www.thewanderingpalate.com
By Curtis Marsh
SINGAPORE (Reuters Life!) - Some say chocolate does not go with wine but how can you not at least try to mix two of life's greatest pleasures?
Admittedly the flavors of wine and chocolate are not always well matched, as the sweetness of some chocolate can kill a dry red wine, and the bitterness and acidity of some chocolate, particularly darks, can play havoc with sweeter whites.
Conventional wisdom has been to bring out the fortified reds - Vintage Port, Ruby Port or old Tawny Port, Pedro Ximenez or aged rich Sherry, Banyuls or Vin Doux Naturel Rasteau -- when you pass around the chocolate.
But there could be some lessons to be learned from the Asian market where red wine is an obsession and cheese is definitely not, making chocolate the preferred post-main-course dish.
Fortified or high alcohol wines are not popular in Asia -- although strong spirits such as Cognac and whisky are liked -- so pairing red wine with chocolate has born a different fine-dining etiquette in Asia.
We are not talking about breaking open a bar of Cadbury's Fruit & Nut here. This is serious chocolate, with serious percentages of cacao and it's become a numbers game. The larger the number, the better. Cacao percentages are everything.
It is also advisable to be familiar with chocolate tasting vernacular and to also know your Caribbean Islands Criollo cacao beans from your lower-grade Trinitario. Continued...