Dallas Uptown BubbleLife - https://uptown.bubblelife.com
Entertaining Idea: Wine, Cheese & Chocolate Pairing Party

Kathy Harris hosted a “Wine, Cheese and Chocolate Pairing Party” in her Vickery Place home Thursday afternoon. 

By adding the third component — chocolate — to the traditional culinary pleasures, it gave new life to the basic wine and cheese tasting. And who doesn’t like chocolate?

Harris chose four wines for sampling — Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Riesling and Cabernet Sauvignon. With each wine, she offered two cheese selections as well as a chocolate that complemented the wine.

For instance, the Pinot Noir was paired with Chevre and Swiss cheese and Dark Chocolate with Sea Salt. The Cabernet was paired with Smoked Gouda and Cheddar and a dark chocolate that was 70 percent cocoa.

“Take a bite of chocolate, a sip of wine, and another bite of chocolate to get the full effect of the pairing,” Harris suggested.

Equally as impressive as the tasting of the wine, cheese and chocolate was Harris’ presentation.

She created cheese boards from inexpensive marble tiles purchased from Lowe’s Home Improvement. She attached felt “feet” to the underside to prevent table scratches and placed fig and banana leaves from neighbor Rick Bentley’s back yard on the top side. Each cheese board held the two cheeses that were paired with that specific wine.

Small bowls at each station held the chocolate and each set-up was accompanied by a framed card naming the wine, cheeses and chocolate.

There were baskets of crackers to eat with the cheeses plus pitchers of citrus-infused water for cleansing the palette.

The centerpiece was appropriately a bunch of grapes.

Harris said that she purchased most of the cheese from Trader Joe’s on Greenville Avenue and chocolate from World Market in Old Town.

“I did go to Kuby’s in Snider Plaza to get the orange chocolate that paired with the Riesling,” Harris said

Harris and her husband Wally Bettes are both enthusiasts of wine and knowledgeable of its varieties. However, I asked Harris how she knew what chocolate to pair with each variety of wine.

“There are websites that suggest parings and offer tips for a tasting party,” she said.

A general rule to follow is your wine should be as sweet as your chocolate. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a bitter or sour taste.

Lake Champlain Chocolates of Vermont says chocolate and wine are natural companions. Both are made from fruit where terroir (the condition where a food is grown) plays an important role. Just as grapes grown in one area of the world possess a unique quality that is specific to that region, cacao beans are also characterized by the land where they are grown.

Champlain’s website gives pairing tips but go on to say that there is no one correct way to pair chocolate and wine. They suggest exploring and trying new combinations, adding that the beauty of pairings is in the discoveries you’ll make along the way.

There are also many websites that give wine and cheese pairing tips, but to make preparing for your party even more fun, visit one of the local cheese shops — like at Central Market — where a cheesemonger can help you with your selections and give you a taste, too.

Harris’ party was an afternoon of fun.

Consider a “wine, cheese and chocolate” tasting for your next party.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015