Recent Blog Articles
- NorCal Wine Has Moved
- 'Tis the Season to be Zinful
- New Tasting Rooms & a Grand Opening in Lodi
- How You Can Contribute to Earthquake Relief in Napa
- A Tale of Two Conferences
- Cats and Dogs Blogging Together
- Getting the Wine Bloggers Conference We Deserve
- New White Wines and Rosés from Rutherford's Day in the Dust
- 6 More California Rhone Wines to Try at Rhone Rangers
- Lodi Zinfandel Goes Native
- Study: Researchers Discover New Taste
- He Wasn't Talking To You, Mr. Outrage
- 16 North Coast Rhones to Try and a Toothsome #WineChat
- Howell Mountain Spring Tasting Wrap Up
- Of Tasting Notes and Photographs
- Rhone Rangers Tastings and Rhone-Variety Wines Tasted
- More Thoughts on Blind vs. Non-Blind Tasting
- A Great Tasting on Balance
- How Critics Taste Wines - On Blind Tasting
- On "Unexpected Napa Valley Wines"
Recent Wines of the Day
- 2010 Moone-Tsai Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
- 2009 Hawk and Horse Cabernet Sauvignon
- 2010 Skinner Vineyards Estate Mourvedre, El Dorado
- 2012 Masut Estate Vineyard Pinot Noir, Mendocino County
- 2010 Gallica Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
- 2011 Harney Lane Old Vine Zinfandel Lizzy James Vineyard Lodi
- 2006 Santana Supernatural Rosé by Mumm Napa
- 2011 Jekel Riesling Monterey and 2011 Jekel Pinot Noir Santa Barbara
- 2012 Matthiasson Chardonnay Linda Vista Vineyard Napa Valley
- Review from the Cellar - 2010 Qupé Mourvedre Ibarra-Young Vineyard
- 2012 Tres Sabores Rosé “Ingrid and Julia” Napa Valley
- 2011 Testarossa Pinot Noir Garys’ Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands
- 2009 Lucia Pinot Noir Garys’ Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands
- Review: 2009 Buccella Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
- 2008 Vin Roc Cabernet Sauvignon Atlas Peak Napa Valley
- 2009 Cornerstone Cellars “The Cornerstone” Napa Valley
- 2009 Laetitia Pinot Noir Single Vineyard La Colline Arroyo Grande Valley
- 2010 Lange Twins Chardonnay Estate Grown Clarksburg AVA
- 2012 Borra Vineyards Artist Series Kerner Lodi AVA
- 2010 Wren Hop Pinot Noir “Fire Messenger” Sonoma Coast
NorCal Wine Blog
A Unique Pairing of Wine and Chocolate
- Wine & Dine
- Written by Fred Swan
- Tuesday, 01 March 2011 23:05
Wine and chocolate pairings are popular and often delicious, but don’t always enlighten. Typically, some form of dark chocolate is offered with Cabernet Sauvignon or a sweet red, such as late harvest Zinfandel. With so many different types of chocolate (and wine) available, there is room for more create combinations that are not just tasty but interesting.
That was my experience at Benessere Vineyards. They offer chocolate and wine tastings year round. My pairing included three wines and three chocolates, all of which were good. Two were somewhat conventional pairings based on red wines, though the bacon-infused chocolate with old vine Zinfandel was a clever touch. The first pairing was a real surprise though.
We were sipping on 2009 Benessere Pinot Grigio Carneros and basking in the sun when Eric Hensel, Benessere’s director of hospitality, brought over a bowl containing a broken up chocolate bar. To our surprise, he told us that the chocolate was meant to go with the Pinot Grigio.
The wine is a good on its own. It has ripeness of fruit that might surprise frequent sippers of Italian Pinot Grigio. It’s not sweet though, with just 0.3% residual sugar. The Benessere wine oozed aromas of honey, apple, cardamom, vanilla and orange blossom. Somewhat surprisingly, flavors on the palate are more briny and citrus-oriented, though these more austere notes are backed by cooked green apple and nectarine. The mouthfeel is creamy yet balanced by acidity which also lends an interesting, slightly dusty texture.
But with chocolate? I’ve had chocolate with white wines before, but usually sweet whites such as Moscato d’Asti, Orange Muscat, or Sauternes. I was dubious, but gamely took a bite of the chocolate. It was milk chocolate with slivers of almond and the name Lindt embossed in every square. The chocolate was sweet, but not overly so, and the almonds crunchy and toasty. A bit of creamy chocolate coated my mouth after I swallowed.
Curious now, I took a sip of the Pinot Grigio. The citrus flavors of the wine were emphasized and the body seemed lighter than it had on its own. The wine cut through the chocolate that had coated my mouth, refreshing my palate. The almond flavors of the chocolate were highlighted. I was hooked and my preconceptions dashed.
Benessere Vineyards is a bit off the beaten path, north of the town of St. Helena and a few hundred yards to the east of Hwy. 29 (see map). When the weather is good, sitting at one of their outdoor tasting tables under the arbor is a very pleasant way to taste wine. If it’s cold or rainy, or you’d rather belly up to a bar, they have a nice little indoor tasting counter.
Benessere is open daily from 10am until 5pm, by appointment only due to local regulations. In most cases, you should be okay if you give them a call while you’re driving over. If you’d like to do a wine and chocolate pairing though, it’s best to give them one day advance notice. That way they can ensure they’ve got plenty of fresh chocolate on hand.
If you enjoyed this article, please share it! Icons for popular sharing services are at the right above and also below.
Follow NorCalWine on Twitter for breaking wine news, information on events and more. Become a fan and join the NorCal Wine community on Facebook. Also check out our comprehensive Northern California winery listings. They are very useful for planning a tasting trip or just getting in touch with a winery.
This article is original to NorCalWine.com. Copyright 2011 NorCal Wine. Banner photo cropped from a work by Fir0002/Flagstaffotos, used under GNU Free Documentation License. All other photos by Fred Swan. All rights reserved.