Lookin' Good at 58

Thursday, February 12, 2009

A Wine For Chocolate On Valentines

Okay after much research and consternation or shall I say pondering I have come across a wine that I am bringing to A Channel on Friday morning that is a pick for Valentines Day and chocolate.

Now what I knew is that chocolate is a hard match for any wine and the rule is that the wine has to be sweeter than the dessert or , and it goes especially for chocolate , the wine will be no match. The sweet dessert will just overpower the wine.

Champagne is a wine match for anything with it's mousse and acidity so that was a possibility in my choice to bring but how original is that thought.

Then I learned it is not the chocolate that is sweet but the sugar that is added to it that is the problem. So let's say to have a red wine that has a lot of fruit and some hint of chocolate on the nose with some alcohol to boot maybe an Amarone or a minty Cabernet Sauvignon from Australia would be a match.

But then why ruin an Amarone with that raisiny chocolate nuance? Amarones should be drank without eating anything except for the classical match of Parmigiano Cheese. A Cabernet , well why bother with that?

Now we could go with an Asti but that is not able to tackle anything resembling chocolate. Maybe a fruit flan or some light dessert like that.

Then there is some nice fortified muscats from Australia but maybe that is not good enough for chocolate either. Rather a creme brulee.

You have tawny port or an oloroso sherry or a Pedro Ximenez which could go well with some chocolate desserts but I am looking at just some plain good high quality plain chocolate. Plain chocolate that is low in added sugar , less than 13 grams of sugar added.

What I learned was less than 13 grams of sugar in a chocolate you can find a young , fruity , robust red wine to match it.

But I am not going to do any of these because what my research tells me and what people who know far more about wines than I do say is a Banyuls from the Languedoc Rousillon region of France is the best match for any chocolate.

Banyuls is the southernmost appellation in France right next to the coast of Spain in the Pyrenees. Made from primarily the Grenache grape there is also a combined total of 10%Carignan , Syrah , and Cinsaut. Banyuls is the closest France comes to port from Portugal.

Grown on steep slopes where mechanization is impossible , the soil is comprised mainly of schist and some limestone. Protected from the winds that roar in this area by the steep slope they grow on , the grapes can take advantage of the long sunny days in this region without too much damage.

Before the fermentation is complete , the wine is fortified with brandy while the sugar levels are still high. Allowed to mature in oak barrels or outside in glass bottles exposed to the sun lets the wine maderise. Maturation is 10 months for Banyuls AOC and 30 months for the Grand Cru wines.

It is similar they say to a modest tawny port. A dark ruby color , it has the aromas of nuts ( good for chocolate with nuts ) , cherries and berries ( good for those maraschino cherry chocolates ) , and jammy raspberry on the finish ( good for chocolate with fillings ).

Banyuls has an alcohol strength of 16-20% , a little less than port does but apparently with dark chocolate it is to die for. When you bite the chocolate the raspberry from the Banyuls screams out with it making it a definite food match.

Well luckily on deciding that this was going to be on tv with me on Friday morning at 8:15 I was hoping the local liquor store would have one and they did. So I have a Banyuls 2005 that I cannot drink on the morning show but will try for Valentines with the wife to see how it goes with some good chocolate.

I have tried a Beaumes-de-Venise which is a sweet Muscat that is one of the few that go with ice cream due to it's low acidity. I liked that one. Coteaux du Layon and Rivesaltes are a couple of other popular ones too from France.

However I digress!

What do you think of Banyuls as my choice for the show? Do you have favourites with chocolate and have you tried Banyuls at all?

Thanks for any input.....


Manuel said...

dude never tried it.......but will seek it out....

i really do learn a lot over here......cheers for that

Waiter Extraordinaire said...

Manuel...you know I learn a lot just by doing this wine thing every Thursday. Helps me learn and review the same time. Thanks for that.

MikeTheWaiterDotCom said...

wow, steven...you knock my socks off once again... as one who has written many a wine list, I am embarassed to say I have not only never had a banyuls,..... I haven't even heard of it. Now I am reminded that no matter how long you study wine... you only really learn how much you DON'T know! I was going to say porto with the chocolate ... or since champagne = love , maybe a nice Schramsberg Cremant .... even the thought of a nice amarone.... ooooh-la-la ... it's been too long since I enjoyed a nice amarone ... but I am over-ruled by the master ... Banyuls it is!

Waiter Extraordinaire said...

Mike..I am just well read and since I took the course know what to look for. Master I am not. I would like to spend all my time just doing wines like some others do. This post just helps me along. I am starting a once a month on one evening wine course in the Spring with the College to add to the Bartending. Soon it will grow bigger. I am learning like you and you have great experience I know that.