Tuesday, June 4, 2013


Wines with desserts
In my last post I reported on a presentation about matching salts, foods and wine for the state convention of the Tennessee Viticultural and Oenological Society. www.tvos.org   We actually presented two programs for that organization; the salt tasting as well as a tasting of locally produced wines with desserts

Grape growing and wine making
The TVOS (of which I am a member) was organized in 1973 is a group of private citizens who conduct and promote the art and science of grape growing (viticulture) and wine making (oenology).  The first time I was invited to stage a demonstration for these folks was 20 years ago in 1993 and with my interest in regional foods and wines the society and I obviously shared much common ground.  This gathering also included an award ceremony for the group’s amateur wine competition in which I participate as a judge.

Combinations that produce harmony, contrast or both
The time honored formula for pairing wine and food is to strive for combinations that produce harmony, contrast or both. It is both the obvious and subtle components within food flavors interacting with the complexity of the wines that produce such amazing results. Some combinations seem crystal clear while others are deep and thoughtful. Each layer of a menu can be matched with a corresponding wine creating a glorious procession of flavors (or sometimes not).  Often, paring wine with the dessert course has simply been serving a wine a little sweeter than the dessert itself.

The most European of simple meal endings
As we considered dessert combinations it seemed like a logical beginning to sample the most European of simple meal endings – bread, fruit and cheese.  French bread, sweet grapes and a Danish blue cheese matched with Mountain Valley “Sonata” Sparkling Wine (a California Blanc de Blanc sparkler would be a good substitute).  Blue cheeses are often paired with sweeter wines but, considering the saltiness (which neutralizes the sense of acidity), and the blue cheese “bite” when eaten with a sweet juicy grape, we felt that it did work quite well with the sparkler. Although we are thinking of this combination in the context of dessert it would also serve as a nice starter because of the dryness and refreshing nature of the sparkling wine.

“God’s gift to the sunny South”
Lowcountry Produce Sweet Potato Butter from avantisavoia.com
Sweet Potato Butter from avantisavoia.com
This next fusion has “the taste of the Southland” written all over it.  From the Lowcountry of South Carolina   We think that we found that with our Lowcountry Sweet PotatoButter paired with Stonehaus Winery’s American Muscadine (there simply is no substitute for Muscadine).  The Sweet Potato Butter is slow cooked in natural flavors of orange, apple and lemon juices with a dash of apple vinegar for bite.  Sweet, “foxy” Muscadine Wine that Stonehaus describes as “God’s gift to the sunny South” paired with a taste of the Sweet Potato Butter was one of the favorite combos of our tastings. 
comes a taste treat that begged us for a wine that matched its southern nature.
Now here is the hard part
For several years we have been interested in the combination of wine and chocolate.  This has included the traditional port and chocolate as well as experimenting with dry red wines as well. Many of us may have discovered the profound complexity and depth of flavor offered by a wine/chocolate pairing by accident; a bite of chocolate at the end of a meal with a bit of the remaining wine perhaps. This can change not only the way you think of wine and chocolate, but can also enhance the way you taste other flavors as well.  For this particular pairing we have chosen a ChocoloveCherries and Almond in Dark Chocolate Bar (55% Cacao) enjoyed with Mountain Valley’s 2006 Cynthiana Dessert Wine (try a Tawny Port here).  This confection is created with Michigan cherries and dry roasted California almonds in Belgian dark chocolate crafted from African cocoa beans.  Now here is the hard part.  Place the chocolate in your mouth and allow it melt slowly. Then note how the combination of cherries and almonds gradually blends into the complex flavors of dark chocolate.  Combine a sip of wine with the semi melted chocolate in your mouth and experience the magical “slurry” that will result.