From time to time, during the rich pageant of a sommelier’s life, one gets put into some deliciously challenging situations. This is certainly the case, especially when involving matching food and wines. Recently, a particularly gastronomic gauntlet was thrown down at my feet. The topic in question was which wine to drink with chocolate. I was asked to present a couple of master classes at the Fine Wine Fair in London with Raffaella Baruzzo. I have known her for around four years, ever since I was in charge of wine at Orrery on Marylebone High Street and she was Sales Director at Rococo Chocolates and later on with Galler. We became very good friends, not only sharing similar outlooks on food and wine pairing, but also went on to do some very interesting tastings and events together. Earlier this year, Raffaella successfully launched her own eponymous brand Baruzzo Chocolates.
Overall, chocolate can be one of the most challenging of ingredients with which to pair wines, even for an experienced sommelier such as myself. At a recent wine tasting in London, I came across a small company called Hard To Find Wines. Fred and Mark, who own and run the business, specialise in small boutique vineyards mainly from South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. I thought they had an excellent range of wines, some of them quite ’quirky’, (fortifieds tend to work best), which would be the perfect marriage with Raffaella’s exquisite chocolates. Indeed they were. We met up, got to work, tasted, sampled and came up with the best combinations. My dear readers, it is important for you to understand, that during my epicurean odyssey, I have to do this ‘research’ for your benefit.