A Sense of Wine

A Sense of Wine is Wine Sense's journal of new products, techniques and behind the scenes info for those who love to make wine. The authors are the Wine Sense staff. You will be familiar with them as the friendly faces that serve you whenever you stop by one of the stores. Join us as we share our insights on new procucts, advice and our experiences. Please feel free to comment on any posts- we look forward to your input!

November 2009


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Wine and Chocolate

November 23, 2009
VictorRecently, in preparation for the Wine Sense Selection Limited Edition Staff Pre-Tasting, I grabbed a bottle of my Selection Limited Edition South African Shiraz that I made in 2006. Yes, I follow my own advice: it was one of the 6 bottles put away for long-term aging.

It was my job at the pre-tasting to do a presentation of the South African Shiraz with a food pairing of chocolate. Here’s what I shared with the rest of the Wine Sense folks…

South Africa has three hundred and fifty years of wine history. They originally used the local vines and found the climate and terrain to be conducive to making wine. Because of this, they brought in European vines and began planting those as well. Shiraz was taken by the French to the Stellenbosch region of South Africa, and from South Africa to Australia in the 17th Century. It is well suited to the warm climate.
 Today, Shiraz is one of the prominent varietals in single varietal wines, as well as being used in blends. These are big-fruit wines with chocolate, smoke, and spice. It is emerging as the Cape’s leading red varietal and is currently the third most planted red grape after pinotage and cabernet sauvignon.
Our Limited Edition South African Shiraz specifically comes from the Stellenbosch region. Stellenbosch is in a hilly region of the Cape Winelands and is sheltered in a valley by high mountains. The region possesses a wide range of soils in the area, from light, sandy soils to decomposed granite, and combined with the well-drained, hilly terrain and Mediterranean climate, prove ideal for grape growing. Summers are dry and warm to hot, while winters are cool, rainy and sometimes quite windy. Snow is usually seen a couple times in winter on the surrounding mountains.
Mmmmmm… chocolate
The richest, most intensely flavoured chocolates are known as the bittersweet darks, which contain the least amount of sugar, and the greatest amount of cacao – anywhere from about 71% to 100%. Their bitter, roasted flavouring is so intense that it really needs a strong red wine to balance the taste. For this tasting I used both an 80% and a 90% cocoa chocolate.
Upon pouring this wine it had an abundance of fruit, aromas of blackberry, spice, and I detected a hint of leather. Start by tasting the wine allowing the flavours to saturate your mouth. It is an easy drinking wine with well-rounded tannins. After tasting the wine, take a bite of the chocolate, letting it slowly melt on your tongue. Sip the wine once again, and you might never consider having one without the other ever again.

If you want to learn more about wine and chocolate you can view a video from earlier Wine Sense Staff Training Session. In this video Tim Vandergrift talks about wine and chocolate

Although it seemed the two flavours would be inherent opposites, the wine and chocolate compliment each other smoothly. The flavours work well together due to chemical similarities in the cocoa bean and parts of the red grape skin.

Needless to say, with its smooth, soft mouth feel, I have 2 less bottles of this delicious wine. Good thing I have my order in : ) Don’t forget to reserve your South African Shiraz!

Manager (Wine Sense- McPhillips St)

Filed under: General, Wine by Craig


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