Pug and wine Print (Etsy)
This is Part II of my Valentines Post, the cake will be paired with wine, I am not adept at pairing so I looked to my friends, the experts for the perfect pairing for this dessert. Anatoli whose wonderful, informative blog Talk A Vino is one of my go to sources when I want information regarding wine and everything involving the wine culture. I will be posting the wine pairing in a separate post. Anatoli has gone above and beyond and we will be comparing 3 different wines, I felt that this deserves a separate post. I had no idea pairing wine or Champagne or sparkling wine with chocolate is difficult but it is. Isn’t that pug the cutest, Michelle from Rockin Red Blog tweeted to me and when I saw it I had to have it, found on Etsy, bought it and I am now the proud owner of this print. The pug looks like my Izzy.
I thought it would be fun to invite some friends over on Valentines Day and have them participate in the dessert/wine tasting. Anatoli chose a sparkling red, a Brachetto di Acqui from the Piedmont region of Italy. He suggested Rosa Regale and while searching for this wine I also came across one that sounded interesting also and Anatoli gave it his stamp of approval so I got both the one I added is Marceno Brachetto di Acqui, now this is not the wine I ordered, I wanted the Marceno Spumante Brochette di Acqui but they sent the wrong one, same grape so we’ll give it a go. The other suggestion was a Port Wine. When I told Anatoli I didn’t like Port, he asked if I have ever tried a 20 year old Tawny to which I said no I hadn’t. I decided to add a bottle of Taylor Fladgate 20 year Tawny port also.
The lineup of wines
Here is Anatoli’s Write up:
Pairing Dessert with Wine
When fellow blogger and a wonderful cook Suzanne asked me if I would be interested in providing some suggestions for Champagne or Sparkling wine to pair with dessert, I bravely said “of course”. Yes, “of course”, but pairing dessert with wine is generally not an easy fit, outside of nice Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot with equally nice dark chocolate. And Champagne or Sparkling wine don’t bode particularly well with the desserts, unless we are talking about lightly fizzed Moscato, which generally stands a better chance of pairing with the dessert.
Next email brought in more details about the dessert: it will be a “Chocolate cake filled with blood orange curd.cream and frosted with chocolate nutella buttercream”. Urgh. Lots of ingredients, lots of flavors – no straightforward pairing.
Pairing of the wine and food can go in three different ways. Well, to be precise, there is another option, but it it is not worth talking about as the option #4 is called “fail” – this is when wine and food don’t work together. Three positive variants can be called indifferent, complementing and contrasting. Indifferent simply means that even when you take a sip of wine with your food, both wine and food stay in their own realm and don’t bother each other. Complementing and contrasting usually means that your experience is enhanced by adding wine to the food. Big tannic wine is often works well with the steak by complementing the flavors. Cutting acidity of the white wines can be great with appetizers by bringing out sweet notes. So all of this is good in theory, but then we have a particular pairing to do at hand.
So for the dessert above, I need to think about it. First we got chocolate cake – but then we got blood orange cream, and lots of sugar – we need to go into the sweet wines here, and sweet Champagne is simply not something I have a knowledge of. Moscato? Might be, but I wouldn’t do Moscato with chocolate, we need deeper flavors. So, what to do, what to do – ahh, I know – how about some Brachetto d’Aqcui? Brachetto d’Acqui is an Italian wine, produced from Brachetto grape and typically fizzed and sweet. The red grape profile of this wine makes it better suitable for the dishes with chocolate, and sweetness typically is not overpowering, which should make it a good complement. So my recommendation was Banfi Rosa Regale Brachetto d’Acqui, which also comes in a very nice and presentable bottle (remember, your enjoyment of the wine starts form the bottle and the label, so bottle matters).
Okay, so I found a suggestion for the sparkling wine, but considering the complexity of the flavors (don’t forget “chocolate nutella buttercream”), I wanted to suggest something else to complement this dessert. One of the first thoughts was about Pedro Ximenez Jeres, but it might be way too sweet for this seemingly delicate dessert. So, if not Jerez, then may be Port? Yes, Port should work perfectly! Not any Port – the young Vintage port will overpower the dessert, and the young Ruby or Tony will be lost on it. But 20-years old Tawny ( or anything older that that), should work fine, considering the variety of flavor such port possesses – all of the hazelnut and almond flavors, dry figs, raising, dates – there is a lot in the aged Port profile which could make it an ideal suitor of the this dessert. As an additional bonus, going with 20+ old year’s Port gives an additional advantage – lots of choices. You can go with Graham, Taylor, Sandeman, Burmester and many many others, and they all should work quite well with the dessert.
Well again – for me, it is just a theoretical exercise. For Suzanne? She actually will have to do the hard part – entertain people and drink the wines with the dessert – and I’m really curious to know how did it go.
Well, before I will turn it over to Suzanne to tell the rest of this pairing story, I have to also share my scary moment with this pairing (happy food and scary moments don’t bode well together, don’t they?) After all was said and done and Suzanne got the wines and was ready for her evening, I saw her latest post popping up on Friday, talking about “Tartlets With Blood Orange Curd, Whipped Cream And Nutella”. My heart literally sunk – this is the dessert Suzanne is serving, and it is apparently different from the original – and she has the wines – how is it going to work now? Well, Nutella still was the there, and it technically represents both hazelnuts and chocolate, so I shouldn’t lose the hope…
Now it is really the time for Suzanne to tell the rest of the story…
Dessert is served
First of all I feel so badly that I changed the dessert, well it really was the same flavors but in a different form. My cake failed mainly because of the pan I bought, long story that I won’t get into now. I decided to make the tartlets, I’m sure you saw my FF#55 post. I planned a Valentines Day dinner party and invited some close friends, we had lamb kofta in a tomato sauce with eggplant, basmati rice prepared in the Persian way, labneh and lots of salads, and with this I served a wonderful 2008 Napa Valley Zinfandel (Green and Red from Chiles Mill Vineyards) and it paired very nicely it was really a great wine.
I served the dessert to my friends with the Rosa Regale Brachetto di Acqui. The wine was bubbly, and I served well chilled in champagne flutes. Everyone got some of the tart and I also served the chocolate cake with a simple cream cheese buttercream. The wine was light and fruity, on the nose fresh berries, it’s like springtime in a glass, tasting this wine you are immediately overwhelmed with the lovely taste of fresh fruit, strawberries, peaches and nectarines. It’s a bit sweet but in a very good way. All of my guests including myself absolutely loved this wine with the tart, it was in my humble opinion a perfect pairing, honestly it could not have been better. We finished the wine and dessert and at that point could not have anymore so decided to save the port for the next day.
I want to thank Anatoli@Talk A Vino for helping me with this very special and highly successful pairing. It was a wonderful evening and thanks to Anatoli’s expertise and intuitive pairing a really wonderful and delicious dessert. Thank you so much Anatoli!! Please check his blog out, there is a wealth of information about wine, including great recommendations, reviews and tutorials. A definite must read for anyone interested in learning more about wine and the wine culture.
A very special thank you to Maia and Laila my young and willing helpers who decorated the Valentines table for me, isn’t it pretty!!!