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6 July 2017

Road Test: Cuveé Chocolate & Wine Matches

Cuvee Chocolate & Wine Tasting

Being a wine blogger and a lady who loves her choccie, I was super excited when I first heard about Cuveé by Deniz Karaca. This range of artisan chocolate made in Australia has been crafted specially to compliment wine. Deniz, definitely has his priorities right if you ask me. A man after my own heart!

So after placing my order for a Cuveé Chocolate Wine Connoisseurs Collection ($39) from Just In Time Gourmet, I decided to do a bit of an at home road test to see if they really do match the wines on the packets or if it’s just a marketing stint. Jodee and Justin were keen to hear how it all went, so invited me to share my thoughts here on their blog.

Plus, did I mention it’s World Chocolate Day on the 7th of July – yet another good reason to indulge this month. And to be fair, it’s World Wine Day every day right?

My Research

Typically in the wine and food matching world, chocolate has always been a hard one to match. Which is another reason why I was super intrigued of the outcomes of this road test.

The first stage in my research, was of course seeing what Deniz was capable of. Following the launch of Cuveé Chocolate here on the Just In Time Gourmet website, Deniz was a guest chef on MasterChef Australia where the contestants had to re-create his totally mouth-watering and lick-your-screen worthy; Passion for Caramel Tart. Oh my, it’s safe to say after this I was convinced he knew his stuff when it came to delectable delights.

Of course, part of my research was also checking out the Cuveé Chocolate website which I found very helpful, especially the Tasting Guide, which I will explain in more detail below.

Plus, I was lucky enough (thanks to Insta Stories) to chat one-on-one with Deniz about where his love for wine stemmed from;

“Wine is my second greatest passion, right after chocolate! I spend a lot of my free time learning about wines and the chemistry behind it (very similar in many ways to chocolate) and of course doing endless amounts of tasting. So Cuveé was really a dream come true, combining these two interests in a business concept that was also a bit unique” – Deniz Karaca

The Prep

When it comes to wine and chocolate tasting, it’s serious business guys. I even attempted to try and take some decent photos – despite knowing in the back of my mind that I’d never be able to really convey the full extent of the deliciousness I was about to devour.

It was a cold, wintry day when I decided to do this road test, and I refused to put the heater on until the last moment. So I decided to keep the wines at room temperature (about 14 degrees) which in-fact was quite perfect, especially for the medium-sweet The Lakehouse Riesling which really helped those fruit flavours shine.

I also had my Riedel and Plumm wine glasses ready, honestly drinking out of nice wine glasses does make a difference!

Now in terms of the chocolate, as mentioned above, I found the Guide to Tasting Chocolate & Wine on the Cuveé Chocolate website very helpful. I am definitely no connoisseur when it comes to tasting chocolate (I am however very experienced at gobbling it up very quickly) so the biggest tips I got out of this guide was:

  • Never refrigerate chocolate, unless in a humidity controlled wine fridge – chocolate should always be served at room temperate
  • As you do with wine, analyse the colour, take in the fragrance and of course taste
  • When you are tasting chocolate, you should:

“Place the chocolate on your tongue and close your mouth, don’t chew it but let the chocolate melt for a moment in your mouth, let your body become one with the cocoa” – as the Cuveé Chocolate website says

To be honest I found the above really hard. Having the patience to let the chocolate melt in your mouth was a bit unusual for me. I soon found out it was worth it though…

The Tasting

We had 3 wines and 3 different chocolates for matching purposes. Both reds were suited to the 2 dark chocolates so we mixed and matched as we saw fit.

The Wines

The Lake House 2015 Postcard Riesling
This is a medium-sweet Riesling from the Great Southern with creamy, sweet tropical fruit notes alongside candied lemon and minerality.

Olive Farm Wines 2015 Merlot
This Swan Valley Merlot is full of cherries and earthiness – it’s packed full of flavour and needs a food match to stand up to its bruteness.

Fifth Estate 2010 Shiraz
This 7-year-old Shiraz from WA’s Geographe wine region has aged in a more old-world than new-world fashion in my opinion. It’s savouriness and meatiness continued to evoke fantasies of smoky streaky bacon for me.

The Lake House 2015 Riesling & Cuvee Chocolate Solero

The Chocolate

My Cuveé Chocolate Wine Connoisseurs Collection included 3 x 70gram blocks of chocolate. Before I delve into these, I must mention the packaging of the chocolate exudes pure luxury. It’s all packaged so beautifully with plentiful information inside so you know what you’re putting into your mouth.

Cuvee Chocolate by Deniz Karaga - Artisan Chocolate crafted for wine connoisseurs

Here’s what was included:

Soleo – 38% Milk Chocolate
The cocoa beans for this almost caramel-like chocolate come from the island of Java (Indonesia). The suggested wine matches are Semillon, Riesling, Oaked Chardonnay, Moscato, Rose, a botrytis dessert wine or a Port/Fortified wine.

Amphora – 65% Dark Chocolate
This is a complex dark chocolate where 70% of the cocoa beans for the blend comes from one single plantation in the rainforests of Peru. It’s suited for a wide variety of red wines including Pinot Noir, Merlot, Grenache, Shiraz, Cab Sauv, Zinfandel, GSM or a Port/Fortified wine. It’s also noted that it can match with Cognac, Scotch or Brandy quite well.

Grand Cru – 75% Extra Dark Chocolate
Ladies, if you’re anything like me, then this is the ‘healthy’ chocolate, aka dig in! The illustrious Grand Cru is made from Criollo & Forastero cacao from Africa. If you like cocoa over sweetness, this is the one for you plus as a wine-lover I found the ‘tannins’ in the chocolate very interesting. The Grand Cru’s suggested wine matches are; Shiraz, Cab Sauv, Cab Mer, Mouvedre, Sangiovese, Vintage Ports and again with Cognac, Scotch and Brandy.

The Verdict

Firstly, having both the wine and chocolate at room temperature really helped the flavours in both shine. And secondly, OH MY GOSH! I so wasn’t prepared for this and I feel like my life moving forward has changed forever. Wine & chocolate are an absolute match made in heaven when you have the right pairing (and great quality chocolate and wine of course).

Let’s start with the first pairing, the Soleo milk chocolate and Riesling. This was insane and probably my favourite match if I’m not worrying about calories. To be honest with you, I was completely dubious of this match. But wow, those caramel undertones in the chocolate perfectly matched the fruit in the wine. These two are at one with each other. I personally don’t think I could ever have one without the other now.

I’m hesitating moving on, but alas let me wipe up my drool and get on with it. Next up was the dark Amphora chocolate which I tried with both the Shiraz and Merlot. As noted above both the reds were rather savoury and earthy in my opinion so when they were matched with the dark chocolate the fruit flavours in the wines were enhanced and made the wines appear smoother.

Likewise, with the Grand Cru, the acidity and tannin in the chocolate complimented those features in the red wines to bring out those beautiful fruit flavours and in turn making both the chocolate and wine more rounded.

What a fabulous sensory taste experience! Plus, the best bit is that 70 grams of chocolate actually goes a long way so I have a wee stash of Cuveé Chocolate leftover in ziplock bags that I now bring out whenever I am trying a new wine to experiment with the pairings.

Actually, just the other night I uncovered that red wine made from the Lagrein grape goes superbly with the Grand Cru chocolate – it’s such a heavily tannic wine that it stood up to the boldness of the choccie so well.

So, on that note, well done Deniz – you have satisfied this wine blogger & chocolate eater. Now we just have to work out how to install both a Cuveé Chocolate fountain and a wine fountain in my house…

Just In Time Gourmet Chocolate & Wine

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