Pairing Chocolate & Wine, Harvest 2019 Update


Welcome to episode 50!

Miles and I had dinner final night time at considered one of Ottawa’s finest new eating places, Gitanes. The meals has a French aptitude, however the restaurant is fashionable, dare I say hip? Is it even hip to say hip any extra?

Anyway, we beloved the meal, particularly the tuna tartare. I found the Pinot Noir I would like for the Christmas holidays from Lighthall Vineyards in Prince Edward County… it had that excellent stability between Burgundian finesse and North American ripeness. This isn’t a business for this wine — I’m simply sharing my newest discovery with you as various listeners have requested me to try this extra usually.

Now don’t go shopping for all of it on me or I received’t share once more. Kidding. Sort of.

Later right now, I’m internet hosting my first reside wine class for the 5 Wine & Food Pairing Mistakes that Can Ruin Your Dinner (and the right way to repair them perpetually). This free class can also be once I’ll share particulars about my new, in-depth paid course referred to as The Wine Smart Course (catchy proper?) A Full-Bodied Framework to Taste, Pair & Buy Wine Like a Pro. You’ll know when you possibly can be part of me on the free class if you happen to get my wine e-newsletter.

So on to our juicy wine matters that I’ll be chatting with you about in right now’s Unreserved Wine Talk podcast:

  • How do you pair wine and chocolate?
  • Do the wines change with several types of chocolate, say milk chocolate versus darkish chocolate?
  • How is the 2019 harvest stepping into BC, Ontario and Nova Scotia?
  • What can we anticipate as shoppers when it comes to type, high quality and worth?

A aspect be aware, once I’m speaking in regards to the California harvest of 2017, the devastating one which was affected by wildfires, simply as they’re experiencing once more now, I mistakenly say 2000, but it surely must be 2017. I didn’t wish to take away that half as a result of there’s some useful data there for you when it comes to the impression of the wildfires on the wine’s style.

I’ll embrace hyperlinks to my pairing suggestions, the wineries talked about within the harvest updates and how one can get notified in regards to the free wine class within the present notes at

Well, there you have got it! You’ll discover hyperlinks to my pairing suggestions, the wineries talked about within the harvest updates and how one can get notified in regards to the new, free wine class within the present notes at

What was your favorite tip or quote from this episode? Share that with me on Twitter or Facebook and tag me @nataliemaclean, on Instagram I’m @nataliemacleanwine.

If you preferred this episode, please inform a pal about it, particularly one who’s curious about pairing wine with chocolate. My podcast is simple to seek out, whether or not you search Google on its identify Unreserved Wine Talk, or on my identify.

Finally, if you wish to take your capability to pair wine and meals to the following stage, be part of me in a free on-line video class at

I can’t wait to share extra wine tales with you subsequent week.

Thank-you for taking the time to hearken to this one. I hope one thing nice is in your glass this week, maybe a terrific glass of wine with chocolate truffles!



– Should you even attempt to pair wine and chocolate?

– Won’t the sweetness of the chocolate make the wine style bitter?

– Why are fortified wines the perfect companions for chocolate?

– How does their sweetness and better alcohol content material match the flavours of chocolate?

– Why does port particularly go properly with chocolate?

– Why is milk chocolate more durable to pair with wine than darkish chocolate?

– Which wines pair finest with white chocolate?

– What about desserts with only a contact of chocolate, like strawberries dipped in chocolate?

– What important components affected the 2019 harvest in BC, Ontario and NS?

– Did Hurricane Dorian have an effect on the harvest?

– Which wines and grapes will do properly this yr, and which received’t?

– How does a moist, chilly spring impression the type of wines?

– Why is 2019 proving to be a difficult harvest for winemakers throughout the nation?

– How did the 2017 wildfires have an effect on Californian wines?

– What are you able to anticipate when it comes to style and elegance for the reds now hitting liquor retailer cabinets?




Wine Reviews


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Transcript & Takeaways

Wine and Chocolate

We love chocolate not only for its style, but additionally for its sensual texture. Cocoa butter, considered one of its important components, melts near physique temperature, so sliding a chunk into your mouth and feeling it seep out to coat your tongue can nearly be orgasmic. Maybe that why’s the eighteenth century Venetian womanizer Giacomo Casanova drank chocolate every day as an aphrodisiac.

Sadly, scientists have since confirmed no hyperlink between chocolate and sexual prowess, however they’ve found that it incorporates phenylethylamine, a compound that produces a excessive within the mind that’s just like the sensation of falling in love. Is it any surprise that ladies crave chocolate greater than some other meals? (Men, these hopeless romantics, crave pizza.)

Many oenophiles don’t even attempt to mix wine and chocolate, feeling that the wealthy sweetness of chocolate is an excessive amount of for any wine. But I often buck standard knowledge (and I prefer to layer my vices), so I’m decided to seek out some good pairings. In matching wine with any dessert the overarching precept is that the wine have to be the sweeter of the 2—in any other case it’ll style bitter or uninteresting.

That’s why chocolate, with its concentrated and creamy flavors, often goes finest with candy, full-bodied, high-alcohol wines. Alcohol gives the look of richness and sweetness. But there are could shades and intensities of chocolate, so listed here are just a few concepts for sweetening its marriage with wine.


Darker is Better

The finest companions for darkish chocolate are fortified wines, such because the vin doux naturels, banyuls and maury, each from southern France. They’re comprised of late-picked purple grenache grapes that develop on steep, terraced hillsides. These wines are aged as much as thirty months in oak to create wealthy darkish fruit flavors. Banyuls is

a bit sweeter and extra acidic than maury, and subsequently a greater match for chocolate. One of probably the most well-known banyuls is Domaine du Mas Blanc, whereas maury is best-known for Mas Amiel. Both remind me a bit of of California’s late-harvest zinfandel, which might additionally work with chocolate.

Semi-sweet to candy sherries have the bonus of a nutty character, which works properly with chocolate. Sadly, although, dry madeira from the Portuguese island is a disappointment regardless that it’s usually grouped with sherry within the dishes it enhances. The candy variations of this wine, reminiscent of bual, verdhello and malmsay, are a greater match for chocolate.

You’ll have higher luck with Australian liqueur muscat and liqueur tokay, comprised of muscat or muscadelle grapes. They’re dried to a semi-raisined state on the vine, then fortified throughout fermentation. The wine is then heated whereas it’s getting old in barrels, which provides it intriguing aromas of prune, fig, raisin, smoke, tar, espresso, and nuts. All go properly with chocolate. Beaumes-de-Venise muscat from southern France has related aromas with the addition of beautiful orange-blossom notes.

My favourite match for chocolate is port. Vintage port pairs properly sufficient, with its plumy, grapey notes, however younger ruby port is healthier with its aromas of blackberries and raspberries. Best of all is tawny port, since its aromas have a pure affinity with chocolate: caramel, espresso, nuts, dried figs, cinnamon, vanilla, and spice. These ports are divine with pralines, a decadent combination of sugar and floor hazelnuts.

Tawny ports are well-aged wines, usually maturing for ten, twenty, and even thirty years. As you’d anticipate, the oldest selection is the richest. My favorites are Graham’s, Dow’s, and Taylor Fladgate. Although colheita is a classic port as a result of it comes from a single yr, it’s aged in wooden for a minimum of seven years, although some are matured for greater than thirty years, and subsequently has extra tawny aromas. (Vintage port solely spends two and half years in wooden after which ages within the bottle.)

Slightly much less complicated companions for chocolate are fruit-based dessert wines, reminiscent of framboise (raspberry) and cassis (blackcurrant). Their fruit is usually macerated (soaked in alcohol) earlier than fermentation for further focus. Served with chocolate mixture desserts, they complement the fruit flavors. The tannins in these wines are often so smooth that they don’t compete with chocolate and their pure acidity works properly alongside it. I’m keen on fruit wines from Southbrook Winery, Ontario; and Bonny Doon Vineyards and Andrew Quady, each from California. Surprisingly, apple icewine can also be beautiful. Try Neige from Quebec.


Milking Wine’s Possibilities

Pairing milk chocolate is a more durable problem due to its excessive dairy content material, simply as milky desserts reminiscent of ice cream and cheesecake additionally conflict. Some folks pair milk chocolate mousse or pudding with glowing wine on the idea that effervescence cuts by the fats. But that doesn’t work for me, even with candy bubblies like Asti or Moscato d’Asti. I discover their texture too gentle for the chocolate and the wine simply tastes like acidic steel.

The finest match for milk chocolate is Hungarian tokaji, with its aromas of butter, honey, apricot, and citrus. Tokaji is a botrytised wine: the grapes on the vine are contaminated by a benevolent fungus referred to as botrytis cinerea (also referred to as noble rot). This dehydrates the grapes, concentrating their sugars, acidity, and flavors. Other wines made this fashion embrace Sauternes from Bordeaux in France, and beerenauslesen and trockenbeerenauslesen from Germany. These wines additionally work properly with ganache and buttery, velvety truffles.


A Whiter Shade of Pale

When it involves this sweetest of all sweets, I admit utter defeat. It’s simply an excessive amount of for any wine. Perhaps that’s as a result of white chocolate has simply 20 p.c cocoa as in comparison with the 75 p.c in bitter chocolate. (Purists don’t think about the previous to be actual chocolate as a result of it lacks all cocoa solids besides cocoa butter.) Its vanilla flavors pair finest with cream liqueurs from Bailey’s or Starbucks.


Just a Hint is Enough

An glorious accomplice with lighter desserts which have solely a contact of chocolate, reminiscent of dipped biscotti or nut-flavored dacquoise, is amarone’s candy cousin recioto della valpolicella. The grapes for each wines are dried for a number of months earlier than being fermented. Those for recioto are dried a month longer than amarone, which provides the wine a deep, candy style of raisins and cooked black fruit.

Canadian and German icewine, comprised of shriveled grapes that lose their moisture as a result of they’re left on the vine properly previous the autumn harvest, are picked within the chill of January. Icewine isn’t fairly wealthy sufficient for pure chocolate, but it surely’s nice with chocolate-dipped fruit or a fruit flan.


Chocolate however Not Dessert

I’ve heard that some folks pair darkish chocolate with such sturdy, darkish wines. But after a number of sips, the wine tastes uninteresting to me as a result of the chocolate overpowers it. And the pure tannins within the chocolate intensify the wine tannins, making these wine style bitter.

Lovers of each full-bodied purple wines and chocolate needn’t despair, nevertheless. With dishes that includes only a contact of bittersweet chocolate within the sauce, reminiscent of beef daube, venison stew, or Mexican mole, the jammy flavors in a zinfandel, amarone, or perhaps a Californian cabernet or Australian shiraz work properly.

A Sweet Ending

To acquire the darkish data of which wines pairs finest with chocolate, I locked myself in my workplace for a number of lengthy days stuffed with sugar, cocoa, and alcohol. Thinking solely of my trusting readers, I’m exceedingly thorough with all of my analysis. The end result was a sugar-fueled excessive tempered by alcohol. (I had additionally spent earlier days surrounded by mounds of lettuce, bottles of spices, grease-stained take-out cartons, and curling cheese rinds.) However, nothing feels higher than arising with your individual discoveries of what provides you probably the most pleasure. Try it.

To aid you with your individual journey by the world of taste, I’ve not too long ago added an easy-to-use, on-line matching software on my website ( You can search both by wine, if you happen to’re in search of inspiration for a meal; or by meals, to seek out nice wine ideas. There are additionally recipes from skilled cooks. I’ve tried to make the alternatives as complete as doable, so I’ve included every thing from Cajun catfish and beef Wellington to spaghetti Bolognese and potato chips. It’s nonetheless a piece in progress; I hold including to it as readers ask me questions or ship their favourite pairings. Of course, one of the best ways to seek out good matches is to experiment, which fortunately means numerous consuming and consuming. Enjoy!


2017 California Forest Fires

Currently the 2017 classic of California purple wines are hitting liquor retailer cabinets. You could recall that was the yr of the devastating wildfires all through the state, which proceed right now across the Los Angeles space. The result’s fewer wines are being launched, and when provide is low in relation to demand, costs often go up.

That’s supreme for wineries as a result of the 2018 classic was an enormous one so costs are certain to come back down subsequent yr — excellent news for us as shoppers.

Winemakers say that 2019 shall be simply as huge, if not larger, than 2018. Many producers’ tanks are nonetheless full with the 2018 classic and they also’re letting the grapes grasp longer this yr due to it.

Most producers dumped any wine that was tainted by the wildfires. However, it will likely be attention-grabbing to see if the taint emerges later within the wine’s life because it matures, maybe it wasn’t evident when bottled.


Harvest Update

Rachel Lightfoot at Lightfoot & Wolfville vineyard in Nova Scotia had this replace for us:

Due to a reasonably chilly, moist spring and slower begin to the rising season than typical, we’re monitoring a pair weeks behind common when it comes to ripening.

Downy mildew stress was a priority firstly of the season however illness stress is now pretty low as nights are fairly cool and the fruit is in good condition.

The crop dimension seems to be pretty common though we’ve chosen to crop-thin sure later-ripening varieties a bit greater than typical to boost ripening on account of the cooler season.

Luckily the harm from Hurricane Dorian was pretty minimal for grape growers within the province. We did expertise some gentle cover and trellis harm in sure areas however our fruit was principally unaffected by the storm.

So far we’ve harvested our most early ripening varieties: Siegerrebe (see-ga-ree-ba) for fragrant blends, Marquette for our Fauna Red, choosing L’Acadie Blanc right now, and beginning to decide sure blocks of Chardonnay for glowing. It’s trying like this shall be an amazing glowing classic. | @lwwines


Jurg Stutz

We solely actually began harvesting this week. One small batch for glowing wine final week however that was it to date. Having stated that, it is rather late as a result of chilly and moist spring the place we misplaced a minimum of 2 weeks of respectable rising season. And it simply by no means caught up over the summer season. And in fact, the later harvest goes into October, the extra issues we’re experimenting with birds.

It appears that numerous areas are nonetheless exhibiting results from final season and haven’t absolutely recovered but (late spring frost on June 4th in 2018 and the early frost and wintery temperatures within the fall of 2018).

So there are sections with very weak progress and really small yields. Especially viniveras and a few white hybrids. The purple hybrids appears to have recovered the quickest. Over all, it will likely be a reasonably small crop.

We’ve had two very uncommon seasons in a row and there’s nothing actually to check it to. The jury remains to be out on this yr’s high quality but it surely may be common at finest. We’ll see…


Ann Sperling

Sorry. I’m on the forklift weighing grapes. Got three hours sleep final night time since we ran wine machines. Basically, Gamay, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are in with Bordeaux reds (Cabernet, Merlot), Vidal for the orange wine and Riesling left to go.


Klaus Reif

We would price the 2019 classic as an eight out of 10. Despite the rain and chilly temperatures within the spring, the good temperatures with simply the correct amount of rain in the summertime made up for it. The fruit may be very clear and wholesome and reveals an ideal stability of sweetness and acidity. What is beautiful this yr is the well being of the fruit with no breakdown in any respect.

The yields are additionally nearly proper, not too excessive which might compromise the standard and never too low so we are able to provide sufficient merchandise to our prospects. The most comparable current yr this yr can be 2016.

We picked to date Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Gamay Noir, Gewurztraminer and Kerner. We nonetheless have to select all our Bordeaux reds and Riesling and clearly Vidal and the Icewine.

From what we’ve picked to date, the highlights are the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, however the remainder of the standard can also be above the typical high quality. Overall, we love this classic and searching ahead to some wonderful 2019 wines.


Now let’s fly out to BC with an replace from Mary McDermott from Township 7 Vineyards & Winery


* Overall, 2019 is a difficult harvest, nevertheless my expertise working in Ontario was invaluable this yr right here in BC, as I’ve skilled most of the difficulties offered this classic, so had some insights into the right way to finest handle the unseasonable autumn situations.

* The climate was an enormous issue this yr – rain in September made havoc with choosing schedules and in addition introduced extra illness stress than is regular for the Okanagan (which is often fairly low), so we needed to be further vigilant.

* That being stated, our property fruit turned out rather well.

* Interestingly, we discovered deer was our largest pest this yr.

* Some varieties got here in barely heavy as they picked up weight with the rain in September, however total it’s a mean crop dimension. The final couple of years have been larger crops, so we’re possible simply returning to regular.

Which harvest does it evaluate most carefully to when it comes to earlier years?

* Mary was probably not positive about this, as she has been working within the Okanagan since 2014 and a lot of the harvests haven’t been just like this. Our GM Mike Raffan felt it was maybe most just like 2009 after we had an identical early frost occasion round Thanksgiving.

Which grapes did finest this yr? worst?

* This is tough to say, as we’re nonetheless within the fermentation course of, nevertheless among the fragrant whites are turning out really unbelievable, and glowing can also be actually good, for the reds it’s actually too early to say although as we had in the reduction of on our yields we shall be fantastic.

* At this level we’re completed choosing all the white varieties and Pinot Noir. We shall be completed Merlot this week, adopted shortly thereafter by Syrah and Cabernet Franc, and can solely have Cabernet Sauvignon left to select.

* We are lucky to have finished in depth crop discount to enhance high quality in our vineyards this summer season, and thus fortuitously our reds will actually reap the profit from this in enabling ripeness and depth of flavour.


Mark Sheridan, president of Hester Creek Winery, and his winemakers and offered me with the next replace:

The yr began properly above seasonal common temperatures with issues {that a} doable early bud break can be inclined to a spring frost. These issues have been shortly put to relaxation with an intense chilly snap in February, with temperatures dipping to -20°C, properly beneath regular and thus holding again an early bud break.

Fortunately, no winter harm occurred to our vines, resulting from attentive viticulture administration of the weighty crop the earlier fall. Following cautious crop discount and a well timed harvest in 2018, the vines have been capable of obtain good nutrient and carbohydrate uptake for his or her annual “root flush”, thus making certain a secure dormancy over winter.

Bud break on April 15th was properly uniform in timing. Seasonally common temperatures, with few warmth spikes this summer season, resulted in a balanced rising season total, resulting in an amazing begin for harvest, which began on September 3.

The temperatures in September have been considerably hotter than typical, together with extra precipitation than regular. We are to date seeing fascinating acid numbers and vibrant fruit flavours within the grapes, with total crop ranges barely beneath regular.

Harvest commenced on September 7 with a small portion of our previous vines Pinot Blanc. By the tip of September, we had processed over 200 tons of hand-harvested fruit together with our property Gewürztraminer, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, and Chardonnay, in addition to Viognier from a very long time grower on the Black Sage Bench.

Our previous vines Trebbiano, from block 16 of our property, and our Terra Unica Sémillon have been the final whites for our desk wines picked on September 29, and October 2 respectively. All the whites are tasting topshelf with the Pinot Blanc and Trebbiano actually standing out this classic as unbelievable examples of the Golden Mile Bench terroir.

We have been cautious with our harvest dates given the variable situations for the reason that begin of September, in search of sunny, dry days through which to reap.

The first of our reds, the Merlot we began to herald firstly of October. This was adopted by a portion of our Cabernet Franc for our Rosé , which is presently having fun with a 3-day chilly soak previous to fermentation. A extreme widespread frost occasion all through all the Okanagan Valley occurred the night time of October ninth.

This has hastened scheduling decide dates considerably prior to typical for our later ripening varieties: Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah, which shall be harvested within the subsequent few weeks.

The total high quality of the remaining purple fruit has not been affected by the frost, and though brix ranges should not as excessive as in a sizzling yr, they’re close to maturity and thus we anticipate to see elegant, food-friendly type purple wines for this classic.

Finally, every thing will wrap up by Christmas with the remaining previous vines Pinot Blanc picked for our late harvest wine often in late November/early December.




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