It’s that time of year again when I resurface from a hiatus!! We are nearing the end of our sailing season in the Caribbean. It has been a great winter of island hopping, hosting friends on board and enjoying a slower, simpler kind of life.
But all good things must come to an end, and our time in the Caribbean is no exception. And there is nothing more depressing for a cruiser than watching your boat come out of the water. Except maybe knowing that you are flying home to subzero temperatures and snow still on the ground. And then I seriously question all my life choices. And consume a vast amount of chocolate. And (obviously) drink wine. And that helps a bit.
On that note, here are my favourite wine and chocolate pairings from the past few months.
Wine and chocolate pairing at Les Ignorants
We had walked by this cute little wine bar in the port at Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe, a few times before I looked them up online. Their Facebook page was advertising an evening of wine and chocolate pairings, so after a hard day of boat work, we put on our nicest clothes (i.e. the few items of clothing not bleached out by the sun and salt, not worn or torn, and without the unavoidable stains of boat life) and headed to Les Ignorants.
We were given four glasses and four chocolates, and the sommelier gave a few suggestions on which glass to try with which chocolate before leaving us to explore the pairings on our own.
Our glasses contained the following:
- A vin doux naturel (VDN) from Roussillon
- A late-bottled vintage port from Portugal
- A pear liqueur
- A crème de menthe
We had a great time mixing and matching, taking teensy tiny bites of chocolate and trying them with each glass.
The biggest surprise of the evening was the Mentheuse crème de menthe. This type of minty liqueur can sometimes feel like drinking mouthwash, which is the last thing you’d want to pair with chocolate! But this particular brand was more of a spearmint flavour, and wasn’t cloyingly sweet or toothpaste-y, making for a great match with mint chocolate!
Our favourite of the bunch, however, was the VDN, which we found paired well with all the chocolates, even the mint one. This 2013 Domaine Bonzoms Rivesaltes Éclat is a sweet wine from Roussillon in the southwest of France. Made with organic grenache grapes, it had a lovely, smooth mouthfeel with dramatic notes of black cherry, fig and spices. Definitely a keeper for pairing with any type of dessert!
You’ll notice that all the wines and liqueurs above were on the sweeter side. It’s true that the tendency is generally to match sweet foods with sweet wines. But there are exceptions to every rule, and sometimes, you just get lucky…
Pointe Baptiste spice chocolate + Georges Duboeuf Côtes du Rhone
This was quite a serendipitous onboard pairing. We visited the Pointe Baptiste Estate when touring Dominica, so had lots aboard. The wine lingered in our glasses after dinner, as if begging to be sipped with dessert. Pairing dry wine and chocolate can be tricky. If the wine is too tanniny, it can become too astringent after the sweetness of chocolate, or if too acidic it can make normally palatable dark chocolate taste far too bitter. I was skeptical about going back to this Côtes du Rhone after tasting the chocolate. CDR is generally a dry, medium-bodied blend of grenache, syrah and mourvèdre, without residual sugar. So was I ever surprised when the post-chocolate wine was like a flavour explosion in my mouth! This chocolate is spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves (what I like to refer to as baking spices), and these flavour characteristics just also happened to be in the Georges Duboeuf CDR. Don’t you just love it when your food and wine is an unforeseen perfect match?
Next up: Italian with a Caribbean twist!