Hello! Since it’s the weekend I thought I’d share something more relaxing, with more pleasure over the weekend; chocolate and wine
I was recently invited to a Nam Lee Cheong Wine and Royce Chocolate Pairing session by the butterfly project. Well it was a very interesting session, who doesn’t love wine, or who would reject chocolate ? Both are my favourite pleasure food, and to pair them both together, it is like a match made in heaven!
Nam Lee Cheong is among Malaysia’s oldest and largest homegrown importer and distributor of wines and spirits. Distributing to hotels, hypermarkets, restaurants, retail outlets and end consumers, Nam Lee Cheong moves an excess of 1,000,000 bottles per annum. They also one of the biggest distributors of locally produced spirits.
Nam Lee Cheong has been a driving force of innovation in the Malaysian wine, spirits and liquor industry, from pioneering the concept of appointing dealers in the 70s to the development of the wine industry and classified growths. With the first wine shop opened in 1946 in Petaling Street, Nam Lee Cheong is now not only a traditional family business spanning three generations, they are grounded on strong professional integrity and traditional family values while moving forward in an ambitious yet customer centric approach.
Introducing Mr. Leong Keng Mun, the Managing Director of Nam Lee Cheong Wines who carried us throughout the event carefully explaining the combinations between wine and chocolate, taste profile and changes after pairing wine and chocolate together.
There are 6 pairings to try out. Now what we do, first we get a little introduction to the wines, how to pair different wines with different types of chocolate (uhm, basically just keep trying)
So, how do we enjoy this wine and chocolate pairing ?
First, you smell the wine. Twirl the wine in a glass and breathe in all of the aromas in a long, smooth whiff.
Smell Chocolate, lightly rub the chocolate’s exterior, place towards the nose and smell the chocolate to stimulate your senses.
Taste Chocolate, take a small bite and rest the tongue for 10-15 seconds. Notice the different aspects of the chocolate’s composition while it melt at different time. your senses would highlight multiple flavours throughout the experience
Taste Wine, Take a sip of win and sense the balance and complexity of the chocolate and wine on your palette. Start to move the chocolate around your mouth and lightly bite.
It all sounds so complex, but what you should do is to taste and smell each individually, then taste them both together. This will bring out a 3rd dimension taste to it.
First up we have the R Chocolat Milk Cocoa. A creamy milk chocolate, R Chocolate is filled with cookie crunch and milk cacao cream, which hightlights the flavour of cocoa powder.
The pairing wine, Warburn Estate Gossips Sweet Lips Moscato. Pale gold in colour with a green tinge. Scents of perfumed rose petal and hints of musk lingers in the nose. It is a full luscious wine with a good balance of sweetness and acidity. Has a hint of fig in your middle palate, finishing with a touch of apricot at the end.
When tasted both together, the wine seems to balance the sweetness from the milk cocoa solids from the R Chocolate and enhances the nuttiness of the chocolate. This combination brings up flavours of ripe jammy fruits, enhancing the characteristics of the wine.
Here we have the Bar Chocolate Creamy Milk by Royce. A milk chocolate that is abundant with the full richness and creamy flavour of locally drawn Hokkaido milk. Extra creamy milk is added to the fragrant milk chocolate, which results in a mild and gentle flavour on the palate.
From Nam Lee Cheong, we have the Warburn Estate Rumours Pink Moscato. Vivid rose pink in colour and in the nose scents of freshly harvested strawberries. Hints of cherry with flavours of strawberry in the palate and finishing with a light spritz.
The happened to be my favourite combo. While the wine has sweetness of cherry and tasted floral, savouring both chocolate and wine together makes it less floral, but more structure with a mature taste.
Now this 3rd wine will be repeating itself with the next 4 types of chocolate. Funny how it’s the same wine, but paired with different chocolate, it gives a different character.
It’s non other than the Nama Chocolate Mild Cacao. No liquor is added to this Mild Cacao Nama Chocolate but the taste of cacao remains conspicuous, and this allows for an exquisite balance in the chocolate’s overall flavour. Indeed, its essence of cacao, subtly present here, that lends this Nama Chocolate its very name and expression.
Montes Late Harvest is a blend of 50% Gewurztraminer and 50% of Riesling. The first conveys apricot and honey flavours, finely combined with the typical mould of botrytis. The second gives the structure, freshness and typical mineral hints. The taste of this is creamy, full-bodied with a good balance of sugar, rounded by the acidity of Riesling.
Montes Late Harvest is a sweeter wine compared to the first 2. It has a strong honey taste to it. While combined with mild cacao Nama chocolate, it finishes strong with an enhanced flavour of dried mandarin orange peel. This gives a strong but sweet bitterness to the palate.
Together with the Montes Late Harvest, here we have the Bar Chocolate Black. This light-hearted chocolate celebrates the bitter-factor brought by cacao as its key ingredient. Both bitter and sweet flavours balance each other perfectly, resulting in an invigoratingly sour taste that permeates the mouth with each bite.
Standing at 63% cocoa, the pairing of both wine and chocolate results in a medley of chocolate and maple syrup. It also leaves the palate with a smokey toast at the end. This was my least favourite combination of the night.
On to the 2 last pairings with Montes Late Harvest again, is the Pure Chocolate Mild Bitter and Extra Bitter.
Beautiful facade, weight, shape – everything is calculated to enhance the fine texture of these round discs bursting with pure chocolate flavour. The natural bitterness is due to its high level of cacao composition – 80% found in Mild Bitter and 90% found in Extra Bitter.
The pairing of these two types of high cocoa ratio with the wine portrays very different result from its original chocolate state. As both has very high cacao content, they tend to be very bitter. But with the wine, it tones down the bitterness, bringing its original sweetness to the palate. The pairing finishes with a pleasant flavour of Lychee on the palate with a hint of smokiness.
I must say that this has been quite an interesting session of testing while learning the characteristics of chocolate, enhanced by pairing it with wine, and vice versa.
Also, don’t forget to check out Royce’ Malaysia as well (www.royce.com.my)
Thanks to Butterfly Project for the invite.