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“I hate to see an empty glass.” Make that my new life motto!
Last weekend, my sister, her fiance, our mom, and I (AKA the wine lovers in the family) attended a wine and chocolate pairing class. My sister had purchased a Groupon for the four of us to attend the class. It was a new experience for all of us! We didn’t know what to expect except that, obviously, there would be wine, there would be chocolate, and we would be enjoying both of them together.
The class was being offered at Bar Academy 101 in Montclair, New Jersey. It was a small place with a bar and some tables set up with glasses and a plate of chocolates or cheeses (depending on what class you signed up for). It was a fun atmosphere with a laid back bartender/instructor hosting the event.
The first thing I noticed was the crazy amount of posters on the wall! While we waited for the class to begin, we pointed out our favorites (including Prince, George Michael, and a Sex and the City poster I spotted in the corner of the room). My mom and sister are Red Sox fans and appreciated all of the Boston paraphernalia hung around the room. The owner was happy to hear that and, for that, offered us an extra bit of wine in our glasses.
Next to our wine glasses and plate of chocolates on the table was a breakdown of all of the wine and chocolate pairings we would be trying. The way it worked was that first we would take a sip of wine. Then, we would eat the chocolate. After enjoying the chocolate, we would taste the wine again to see if it changed the flavor of the wine. The results were pretty surprising!
Our Wine and Chocolate Pairing List
- Black Opal Unoaked Chardonnay & Ritter Brand Vegan Chocolate
- Twisted Brand Pino Grigio & MilkBoy Swiss Alpine Milk Chocolate with Refreshing Lemon & Ginger
- Deloach Pino Noir & Ritter Brand Hazelnut Chocolate
- Blackhawk Winery Merlot (replaced with a Blackstone Merlot) & Ritter Brand Chocolate with Raisins and Almonds
- Blackcabra Malbec & El Reys Dark Chocolate
- Black Opal Shiraz-Cabernet Blend & Ritter Brand 80% Dark Chocolate
All of the wine varieties we tried were on the drier side, which we all prefer! The sweetness of the chocolate brought out some of the fruitier notes in some of the wines. In certain pairings, we actually found the opposite result – that the wine brought out some of the flavors in the chocolate! It was actually kind of crazy to taste the flavors in the wine change almost immediately after eating the chocolate!
For instance, the Pino Noir had an aroma of strawberries and a dry finish. After eating the chocolate, the wine itself got a lot fruitier and smoother. But on the reverse side, I found that the flavors in the Lemon & Ginger chocolate got stronger after drinking the Pinot Grigio. It’s interesting stuff! And now, I might pay a little more attention to how the flavors in my wine change with certain foods.
That afternoon spent sipping wine, eating chocolate, learning about flavor pairings, and the proper way to aerate wine (without any fancy gadgets) was an enjoyable experience! The small, intimate atmosphere and pretty chill instructor definitely added to the fun!
Thank you again to my sister, Kaylyn, for treating us to this experience (and for taking some photos, too). Would I say it was worth it for the price? Probably not. The chocolates are available in most grocery stores and the bottles of wine used in this tasting weren’t over $10. I mean, I suppose you really can’t crack open a few nice bottles of wine for a small class like this. On the plus side, I was introduced to some budget-friendly wines that I’ve never had before!
All in all, it was a positive experience. Would I do it again? I think it might be fun to DIY our own tasting now that we know how it works. I would like to have our own wine and cheese tasting and paint wine glasses! That might be something to work on for the summer!