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Wine and chocolate pairing: Stellenbosch, S.A.

Wine and chocolate pairing: Stellenbosch, S.A.
I can’t lie, I’d had chocolate with wine before I tried it at the Waterford Wine Estate in Stellenbosch, South Africa.
I mean, who hasn’t? It’s the end of a meal, you still have a mouthful of red wine in the bottom of your glass, when a box of chocolates makes its round way the table.
That said, I can’t remember thinking the two were as much of a cosy couple as wine and cheese, or chocolate and coffee for that matter. But what the wine makers at Waterford are offering is more than an incidental clashing – this is wine and chocolate pairing – the two, should, in theory, harmoniously improve each other.
“Wine and chocolate is very popular in this part of South Africa,” says my guide as we make our way along a rust red dirt track towards the estate. I’m not convinced, but the grand approach the Waterford Estate – flanked with orange trees and lavender bushes – fills me with confidence. Wineries that look like this don’t make bad wine.
Inside, I’m presented with seven or eight wine glasses on a little wooden board and three bite-size tablets of chocolate – two dark, one milk. But I’m not able to tuck into the chocolate yet.
First I try some of Waterford’s white wine. There’s an intriguing Blanc de Noir with a slight pinkish tinge and a creamy Chardonnay. But all the time I’m wanting to get on to the reds – and the chocolate, all of which comes from a producer down the road at Franschhoek.
The first pairing is a Kevin Arnold Shiraz together with a Masala Chai dark chocolate. My sommelier tells me the ritual - a slurp of wine followed by a chunk of chocolate, then if you want, another slurp of wine.
The 2006 Shiraz is blended with a Mourvedre grape for extra spiciness and the chocolate is equally as peppery. The result is a warm piquant sensation in the mouth - think nutmeg, cloves and coffee. But I want the chocolate to melt more - the wine is chambreed well, but it's still not enough to turn change the dark chocolate's solid form. What's more, I can't help but think the two bold flavours cancel each other out somewhat.
The next chocolate is great - I cheat and have a little nibble before the next wine arrives. It's another dark chocolate, but this time much more mellow and brought to life wonderfully by a few flecks or rock salt on the bottom of the tablet. The salt dissolves instantly on the tongue, moments before the bittersweet chocolate arrives. It's paired with Waterford's 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon, a dense red with whiffs of blackcurrant. If the first pairing was all about spice, this is one is much more savoury. The two combine to be a much more subtle taste, which I find infinitely more enjoyable.
The final pairing surprises me. In one hand I have a glass of Heatherleigh - a syrupy dessert wine while in the other I have a creamy square of Rose Geranium milk chocolate. Neither would appeal to me individually, but as a combination they beat the other two hands down. The aromatic wine has hints of raisin and vanilla, which work well with the floral chocolate, which melts much better than the two dark varieties. It's like smoothest, most intense rum truffle I've ever had and well worth the wait.
Waterford Estate, STellenbosch, South Africa
1 Comments | Add a comment


Kylie Rathbone
East Sussex
We visited Waterford Estate a couple of years ago after family in the area were raving about the chocolate and wine pairing at the vineyard. We did a whole day of tasting in Stellenbosch and this was by far the best tasting we did. The taste of the wine and the Rose Geranium chocolate still fills me with delight. The wines were fabulous, the grounds were stunning and the staff were very knowledgeable and friendly. I have no doubt that we will be visiting again on our next trip. Can not wait!


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1 October 2010
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