Chocolate and wine is a popular pairing idea. However to my experience this pairing also symbolises the weakness of how we in general think of chocolate. Like we tend to grab a bottle of red with red meat, and put a white next to poultry and fish, a lot of depth, experience and novelty is lost when we start with these assumptions.
Chocolate and whisky have the richness to transcend these prejudices, when we allow ourselves to open up to a level of premium and artisan crafted products.
Our Principles of Pairing.
Below are some of the lessons I learned on our journey to pairings that work. Aromas, flavors, transitions and sensations. All molecules at play, but I am not down on some chemistry lessons. The following experience-driven statements may inspire you too.
Air & Aroma
From my personal experiences, whisky gains its strength on air and breath, chocolate develops its flavors on palate and mouth. These different sensations allow both of the pairing elements to have their own field of play. It makes them blend, fight, join, separate in the joint area of our overall senses. Aromas and flavors both play while chewing, melting, sipping and breathing.
Solid & Fluid
The beauty of this pairing exercise already lies in the fact we combine a fluid drink with a solid food. It allows both to fully cover our senses, palate and mind in order to seek harmony. I’ve learned that top chefs not only craft flavor combinations, but moreover are alert to harmony of textures. Think about how you might appreciate the feel of a fatty, thick, wholesome whisky. Or consider how a dark chocolate may swiftly melt down over your tongue before letting go. Now imagine having both at the same time.
Temperature & Fit
One of the most important aspects of the succes of whisky and chocolate is their matching temperature, though hardly ever mentioned. Chocolate needs to be appreciated through its melting flow. Any pairing that does not take this into account is bound to fail – imho. It does open possibilities for rum, gin?, but dilutes with cold-served champagnes and most fresh beers, I would argue. Whisky fits in perfectly, and the warm sensations it produces even increases the pleasing melt of cacao.
Length & Interaction
These levels of fine whisky and artisan chocolate are not only about flavors, but also about development and length. We have a nose, opening, mid and ending on both foods, at least. With various intriguing timings and transitions. No need to say it makes the successful pairing challenge all the more rewarding. You have reached your goal when there is creative play all over the curves of tastes and transitions in chocolate and whisky, and if the result is an elevating experience.
Taking it a little step further, Peter and I even cross-test the best order, wether to consume first a sip of whisky or start a bite from the cacao. The difference may sometimes be huge.
I hope you enjoy these thoughts, but since I’m all but a whisky expert nor sensorial behaviour analyst, I’m looking forward to your thoughts.
Should I maybe write a little book on it?