//How to Pair Wine and Chocolate with Chocolate Sommelier Roxanne Browning

How to Pair Wine and Chocolate with Chocolate Sommelier Roxanne Browning


Where can you find the best chocolate? What’s the difference between candy and real chocolate? How can you pair wine and chocolate? What does Fair Trade mean and what should you look out for? Where can you find the best chocolate?

In this episode of the Unreserved Wine Talk podcast, I’m chatting with New York Chocolate Sommelier Roxanne Browning.

You can find the wines we discussed here.



  • Why should you consider a trip to the Ecuadorian rainforest?
  • What parallels can you find between wine and chocolate?
  • In which regions can you find the best quality cacao?
  • What is heirloom cacao?
  • How can you identify real chocolate?
  • Can you access artisanal chocolate from around the world?
  • Why do you notice fruit-forward notes in real chocolate?
  • What do you need to know about selecting and serving chocolate?
  • How can you restore the taste of chocolate that wasn’t properly tempered?
  • What can you do to support fair wages and working conditions for cacao farmers?
  • What health benefits can you enjoy from real chocolate?
  • How can chocolate help you lose weight?
  • Which wines can you pair with real chocolate?
  • Why does texture play such an important role in your chocolate experience?


Key Takeaways

  • Roxanne found several similarities between wine and chocolate, from the importance of terroir and they’re grown to not being overly manipulated when being made. Even the parallel between using sugar and dairy to mask poor cacao beans is similar to using oak and high alcohol to cover up poor grapes.
  • Cacao beans are fruit, not legumes or vegetables because they grow on trees, and therefore also have varying degrees of acidity like wine.
  • Roxanne gives great advice for serving chocolate like cheese – let it come up to room temperature to appreciate the aromas and flavours.
  • Buy Direct Trade chocolate when you can to support farmers more fully.


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About Roxanne Browning

As an entrepreneur, Roxanne Browning merged two passions – chocolate and wine. Ultimately, a trip to the Ecuadorian Amazon rain forest, where she harvested cacao and witnessed first hand how the noble cacao pod transforms into a chocolate bar. By empowering cacao farmers to lift themselves out of poverty, they reinvest back into their land, communities, feed and educate their children.




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Roxanne Browning 0:00
Got it down to an art and a science where I taste a Pino, for instance, I know not to pair that with a very intense chocolate of a 75% or better because you know is a delicate, great. So I may want to try that with the 60% or our 66. And I have several, also with fusion so I’ll taste three or four. And if I’m working with a Somali a, or a winemaker will go, oh my god, this is the pairing we wait for that aha moment where there’s a balance between the wine and the chocolate and one does not overpower the other. And it leaves you with a very nice after taste that is just lingers and it keeps on changing. It’s very complex. So that’s what I’m looking for when I create parents.

Natalie MacLean 0:52
Do you have a thirst to learn about wine, the love stories about wonderfully obsessive people, hauntingly beautiful places, and amusingly awkward social situations? Well, that’s the blend here on the unreserved wine talk podcast. I’m your host, Natalie MacLean. And each week, I share with you unfiltered conversations with celebrities in the wine world, as well as confessions from my own tipsy journey as I write my third book on this subject. I’m so glad you’re here. Now pass me that bottle please. And let’s get

Natalie 1:29

Natalie MacLean 1:34
Welcome to Episode 109. Which wines pair best with which types of chocolate and which are disastrous? What’s the difference between a candy chocolate bar and real chocolate? What do fair trade and direct trade mean? And why are they important when you buy chocolate? And where can you find the best chocolate? That’s exactly what you’ll discover in this episode of The unreserved wine talk podcast and chatting with Roxanne browning, a chocolate Somalia who joins me from her home in New York City and in the show notes, you’ll find links to the wines and chocolates, we tasted the video version of this chat, where you can find me on both instagram and facebook live every second Wednesday at 7pm and how you can join me in a free online wine and food pairing class. That’s all in the show notes at Natalie MacLean comm forward slash 109 and in the new year, I’ll be hosting virtual wine and chocolate pairing classes for several corporate groups and other organisations as it has a great tie in with Valentine’s Day. And attendees can participate at home with their loved ones. I’ll also be hosting wine and cheese tastings online. If you’d like me to do this for your group, please email me at Natalie at Natalie MacLean calm. You’ll also find my contact in the show notes. Now on a personal note before we dive into the show, tomorrow is New Year’s Eve. So I thought I’d share with you that every year I make and break several resolutions about exercise and housecleaning. However, I also make a few resolutions about wine, which have always been super easy for me to keep because they’re fun. So here are a few of my favourites that you can try this year. Number one, I resolve to try something new. It’s easy to get in a rut with wine and buy the same wine every time. But the pleasure of wine is in its diversity. If you like a full body Cabernet Sauvignon from California, try one from Argentina or even a different robust red such as an Argent hi Mel back to I resolved to cut calories. And that is of course to make space for my chocolate covered almonds. Both alcohol and sugar contribute calories to wine. So if you want to cut back, look for dry wines with low alcohol, such as dry Riesling from Washington or Germany. They have plenty of taste on the lips, but they don’t stay a lifetime on your hips. And

Roxanne Browning 4:20
number three,

Natalie MacLean 4:21
I resolved to save money that I mentioned I’m a wine cheapskate, Chilean Chardonnay and South Africans sheraz are among the best deals in the liquor store. They’re not as fashionable as Bordeaux or Tuscany but you’ll get to rific quality for your money. Number four, I resolved to entertain with less fuss. You don’t need to cook a multi course dinner to invite friends over this year. Not that I could cook anyway. miles is the cook but just crack open a bottle of your favourite wine and serve it with different cheeses. It’s a really quick and delicious way to entertain. I resolved to drink Local more often, just as we’re supporting local farmers by buying their produce. Let’s do the same by drinking what’s in our own backyard,

Unknown Speaker 5:09
wherever we are.

Natalie MacLean 5:12
And number six, I resolved to have more fun, if that’s possible, wine is all about pleasure. Try some new and surprising combinations this year such as champagne and potato chips, or an oak, Chardonnay and buttery popcorn. Hmm. Right on with the show.

Unknown Speaker 5:35
Would I put the question out

Natalie MacLean 5:37
there on Twitter and Facebook as to whom I should talk to you about wine and chocolate pairing. I was told by several people that I just had to talk to Roxanne browning Roxanne browning is known as New York’s chocolate sommelier. She hosts tastings of exotic artisanal chocolates from around the world, often pairing them with wine. This is a woman who knows how to live. Well. Welcome, Roxanne.

Roxanne Browning 6:01
Thank you for having me.

Natalie MacLean 6:02
So before we dive into the wine and chocolate pairings, let’s talk a little bit about how you got started with your lifelong passion for chocolate. I was reading a little bit on your excellent website that it started with a search for the ultimate bar and that led you down to the Ecuadorian rainforest. So tell me a little bit about that.

Roxanne Browning 6:22
Well, it’s very similar to is if a winemaker would want to go to Italy or France to experience Old World winemaking cows already origins are in the Amazon. So I had to go. And I worked with the natives in the Ecuadorian Amazon, in the lower Napo region, and live with them in a very modest hut in a tiny little community and harvested kick cow and saw how it went from the beam to the bar.

Natalie MacLean 6:50
Wow, there’s similarities with grapes and wines, you know, grape to glass, and helping out with the harvest as a means of really understanding what goes into the process. The similarities are uncanny. So tell me a little bit more about cacau. For those who aren’t deeply into chocolate yet, they will be after this. What is that? What exactly? And why is it down in the Ecuadorian forest as opposed to a lot of other regions around the world?

Roxanne Browning 7:15
Well, actually, I have a pot here if you’d like to see, I guess I would please. Okay. This is a cow pod. Good. And it is the colour of the nasionale being of Ecuador, where I was, and the nasionale been is only indigenous to Ecuador. Just like varietals of grapes grow best in certain Chihuahuas so does kick out. And there are many, many varietals, and they come in all different colours, and all different sizes. So this is a pod, and then here are beans. First they started as seeds, and then they are turned into beans by the fermentation process.

Natalie MacLean 7:57
That’s great, excellent products. I don’t know a lot about chocolate. But I want to learn is that the only region that makes benchmark chocolate or is it all around the equator that you’ll find regions of chocolate

Roxanne Browning 8:11
growing? Okay, that’s a good question. And how I could best explain that as wine is in the 3050 zone on the planet. planet? Earth. Yeah, yeah. Kick cow can only be grown in the 2020 zone, which is 20 degrees north and south of the equator, which is the entire tropical belt that goes around the world. And its origins are Latin America, the Amazon region, which takes in about five countries. And these are an Lune pekao. Certainly where it originates, it’s going to be the best

Natalie MacLean 8:43
heirloom, meaning that the plants are old.

Roxanne Browning 8:46
Well, it has history. It’s been there for 1000s and 1000s of years. And that’s where it began. And that’s where it thrives. The best trades have taken them to Africa, Indonesia, Madagascar, and in those regions, except for Madagascar or cow is more of a bulk chocolate product to fulfil quick fantasy needs a candy bars. It’s not real chocolate

Unknown Speaker 9:16
needs though that doesn’t

Unknown Speaker 9:17

Roxanne Browning 9:19
real chocolate real cacao is in the Latin American nations. Okay,

Natalie MacLean 9:25
so I understand that this chocolate is terroir driven just like wine. But like when we first spoke an email back and forth about doing this chat. You said Well, there’s a misconception that the chocolate bars that we buy, those are just candy. And what’s the difference for you? Is it just the sugar content or is it truly the origin of the beans? what divides candy ours chocolate bars from real artisanal chocolate?

Roxanne Browning 9:52
Well candy bars, their chocolate is bought on the commodities market, which is the bulk flavourless beans and Most of candy, the first ingredient a sugar further down the line. If you read the ingredients, she’ll finally come across chocolate, both flavourless. And they have to add a lot of stuff in there to make it taste somewhat like chocolate that’s edible, where when you’re dealing with real chocolate, the first ingredient is chocolate. And because it already has a great flavour, there’s no need to put additives in there. So all I need is chocolate and sugar and cocoa butter, which is part of the bean itself. It’s extracted a lot like olive oil would be extracted from olives, and I have a piece here to show your props. All right, yeah. Okay, so this is cocoa butter. Yeah, and it comes from the bean, it’s extracted out and it’s put back to make the bars to turn it into a solid, or as we would still have liquid chocolate.

Natalie MacLean 10:54
How many beans would it take to create that little pot of cocoa butter that you just had? Well,

Roxanne Browning 10:59
it takes three pods to create one chocolate bar. Okay, and there’s about 30 to 50 seeds in each pot, depending on the size.

Natalie MacLean 11:10
Hmm, fascinating. And again, the parallels with wine, you’re talking about that real artisanal chocolate made from good beans doesn’t need to be doctored, as does wine from really good terroir driven wine doesn’t have to be over manipulated with too much oak or too much, you know, acidification or whatever. So I think we’re going to find a happy marriage between these

Unknown Speaker 11:31
two. All right, so

Natalie MacLean 11:33
tell me a little bit more about the types of chocolate because again, I was intrigued with some of the things that you’re mentioning on your web website, like single origin and fusion, and maybe tell me a little bit about these things. Okay, well, I

Roxanne Browning 11:47
have some chocolate here, if you’d like it, this represents different regions of the world. For instance, I have Peru here, Ecuador, Venezuela, Grenada, Cuba, I have Madagascar,

Natalie MacLean 12:04
it was really hard to get or if you know, your local specialty chocolate retailer, you can really taste widely.

Roxanne Browning 12:11
Well, because I live in the New York area. There are certain places in New York City where you can get an array of fabulous chocolates from all over the world. So not everybody has that luxury. Even though you’re in New York, people always asking Where can I buy these chocolates, and it’s not always that accessible to get to certain stores if you don’t always get into the city. But the chocolate makers that I work with, they all have their own online presence. And I encourage people to go there. They want to buy direct as well. That’s good idea. That’s Yeah.

Natalie MacLean 12:42
And what are fusion chocolates? Well, I

Roxanne Browning 12:45
call them fusions because if there’s something in there other than chocolate, it’s a fusion. And generally, here’s I have one for instance, that’s infused with berries, strawberries, raspberries. With the tastes great.

Natalie MacLean 13:01
Yeah, the marriage of the flavours really work. So between the berries and the chocolate acidity

Roxanne Browning 13:06
of the berries and the sweetness of the chocolate. Well, chocolate already has its own fruit forward notes. Because it is a fruit. That pot is a fruit. And that’s one thing I teach people all the time. Nobody even has a clue that it’s a fruit they think not being vegetable. Nobody knows it’s a fruit. So grows on a tree. Yeah. And because it is a fruit, there’s a lot of acidity. So it depends on each chocolate maker and farmer how much acidity they want to leave in or take out. So the more acidity that’s taken out, the less fruitiness it will have. So there’s a lot of citrus notes, berry notes, Sherry, you name it, just like mine, was fascinating. It is.

Natalie MacLean 13:52
And what is Aside from that, which is a really important point to make. What is the biggest misconception that people have about chocolate or how to buy it or how to serve it anything else that comes to mind?

Roxanne Browning 14:04
Well, you know, it’s new territory, because chocolate is still in the candy aisle. So when I do my events, people are just blown away. They have so many questions, I can’t even begin, where to start. They are just blown away by the taste. If I do a comparison of a commercial chocolate that they’re all accustomed to, that we all have grown up with, and have them try real chocolate. They go oh my god, I can’t believe the differences. It doesn’t even taste like chocolate. And they don’t want to go back. So the questions are endless. It’s just great.

Natalie MacLean 14:41
And is there a particular tip? Just right before we get into tasting this with wine that you have on serving chocolate like I know with cheese, it’s good to bring it up to room temperature before you serve it. But is there something in particular that you advise with chocolate?

Roxanne Browning 14:56
Well, actually I advise people to treat chocolate just like cheese. You know, you bring it to room temperature, it shouldn’t be too cold or else you lose the flavours too long. Obviously, it’s been a melt. So room temperature is perfect. And I encourage people to snap it. snapping gives a very good indication of a quality chocolate. The tempering is important. What is temporary tempering is the final stage of chocolate making. It’s when you get that very nice shiny sheen to chocolate. If you look at it, and you’ll say, wow, this is a great tempering chocolate tears strive for that. And it’s quite a difficult process to master. There’s a cooling temperatures up and down, up and down until you get what you’re looking for. And if you ever see a chocolate that has those, like greyish blooms on the top, Jimmy get a chocolate bar that looks like that.

Natalie MacLean 15:52
Yeah, I think so. And oh, look, what

Roxanne Browning 15:53
do you mean? Yeah, it could be like shelf life. It’s too old or it wasn’t tempered. Right. Okay, so I tell people don’t go back to your store to get your money back, just melt it and bring it to room temperature and molecules fall back into place. And it tastes like it was the day it was made. Awesome. Yeah. Actually, I

Natalie MacLean 16:12
just had a few more questions too. I want to ask about fair trade. Is that an important aspect of chocolate? Oh, it

Roxanne Browning 16:19
sure is. And one of my criteria. In my business, I call it chocolate with a conscience that the chocolates must be even greater than fair trade. Fair Trade is the gateway to doing the right thing. And there’s certain models around the globe. And they’re all working very hard to create a perfect world for the farmers. What I do is direct trade. What that’s the chocolates that I see. Which means either the farmer owns it. So they make 100% of the wholesale profits for the chocolate maker and the farmer have a partnership. And they make probably 10 times the amount that they would if it was on the fair trade market. Wow. Miami’s market, they make pennies or nothing. There’s a huge gap.

Natalie MacLean 17:05
And I know fair trade when it applies to wine and other agricultural industries is about decent wages and living conditions for the farmers and workers. But do you have a rough idea of how much a bean farmer earns on an annual basis? Without fair trade with fair trade? And with direct trade? Do you have like a rough idea?

Roxanne Browning 17:26
Well, I can give you a rough idea. I know the farmers in Africa, where 80% of the cow is harvested for the world’s demands, they make pennies per kilo pennies, so they make nothing. It’s basically controlled by the brokers in the commodities market. And they are the ones that make the money. And unfortunately, also in Africa, a lot of the harvesting is done by child slavery. cheap labour and cheap real estate. And cheap chocolate keeps the costs down. Another reason you don’t want to buy chocolate from that region, but most people don’t know that. And then the fair trade market is generally four times that amount. It’s really something that most people are familiar with. You get it in coffee sugars, teas that start to see the fair trade label on a lot of products, including chocolate, right? Wine

Natalie MacLean 18:21
these days as well. Yeah,

Roxanne Browning 18:23
yeah. Now on the direct trade, like I said, they make 100% of the wholesale profit. So they’re making so much more. They do gauge their numbers by what the world’s demand is on the commodities market. So chocolate makers are willing to spend a lot more heirloom beans compared to what they get it on the commodities market, but they also charge a lot more for their chocolate bars. Okay, rightly so. Yeah. All right. Roxanne, I

Natalie MacLean 18:49
wanted to ask you about the health benefits of chocolate again, I think another similarity that it shares with wine. But what is the latest research telling us now about chocolate?

Roxanne Browning 18:59
Well, almost daily, there’s reports coming out on the health benefits of chocolate, from heart disease to diabetes, to decreasing your blood pressure, your cholesterol, and it’s coming from all different studies, all different regions of the world. I post them whenever I get them. And I distribute that amongst all my readership. But basically, yes, I mean, the more studies that are happening with chocolate, the more they’re uncovering, it’s great health benefits. But the big problem, though, that I’m finding is they have these short you know, blasts of news that you can get on you know, any new show and download it but they don’t tell you that, well it can’t be candy and people run to the nearest grocery store and they buy up candy bars thinking that oh, this is great. I can eat all this chocolate now. Nothing could be further from the truth. You’ve got to choose our seasonal chocolate where the first ingredient is chocolate.

Natalie MacLean 20:00
Because that’s what the health benefit is coming out of cacau content or whatever

Roxanne Browning 20:04
it is. And the higher the kick cow content like a 70% or higher, you’re going to get the greatest bang for your buck.

Natalie MacLean 20:12
And does that mean dark chocolate is the healthiest of all the different types?

Roxanne Browning 20:15
Yes, as a matter of fact, there’s been some studies that if you add milk to chocolate indicates many of the health properties so dairy is a no no and no chocolate. And I’ve seen some commercial chocolate bars where they list on the package, dark chocolate, but when you look at the ingredients, somewhere, there’s milk, and there’s way and I says, Well, again, it’s their recipe, and they’re just sizing something. It’s the bulk chocolate, they’re just sizing.

Natalie MacLean 20:43
Wow. Again, the parallels with wine, you know, there is a hierarchy, if you will, with Pinot Noir and red wines, often at the top of the pyramid for health benefits. That’s because of the resveratrol content, which is an antioxidant. Is that what also is your Yes, chocolate, okay, that

Roxanne Browning 21:00
is also in chocolate. In the cocoa butter. Well, the cocoa butter is where you’re going to get your morphus, moto unsaturated fatty acids. That’s something everybody should have every day in their diets. And there’s just a few of them. Olive oil, nuts and seeds, avocados and all of that. But yes, the antioxidants are in real chocolate, just like in the wine. So wine and chocolate. I mean, and one other thing that just came out in regards to reports is that chocolate also helps you lose weight. And I get it. Yeah, I can attest to that. Because I’ve been swearing by this for at least 10 years before there was any study, what I do is I take a piece of chalk before I started my business, I take a chocolate piece, a real one. And I savour it slowly after my lunch and dinner. And it’s very satisfying. You get those really rich fats in there that are good for you. And it inhibits you from wanting to reach for a big fat, like a cookie or a cake or something because it’s just so filling and satisfying. I am so convinced

Natalie MacLean 22:01
I’m starting today, Roxanne recommends chocolate to lose weight much longer.

Roxanne Browning 22:07
And you know, you should deprive yourself from really quality food in life. I mean, it is a mood enhancer just like wine, and moderation. Everything goes a long way. Well, it’s not the immoderate part of the video, but let’s get to the tasting.

Natalie MacLean 22:21
So when we first talked about this, and I had suggested port, you liberated that that is cliche, because port is often the pairing with chocolate because we’re talking about candy chocolate. But with this real chocolate, you are more fan of dry red wines.

Unknown Speaker 22:40
Is that correct? Yes, yeah.

Natalie MacLean 22:43
And why does that work? So well? Why doesn’t the wine end up tasting bitter with the chocolate?

Roxanne Browning 22:49
Well, because I have 50 chocolates to choose from. When given a wine to pair it with, I can find the right pairing. I don’t have to taste all 50. I mean, I’ve got it down to an art and a science where I taste a penal for instance, I know not to pair that with a very intense chocolate of a 75% or better because you know is a delicate, great, so I may want to try that with a 60% or our 66. And I have several also with fusion so I’ll taste three or four and then I’ll and myself and if I’m working with a Somali a, or a winemaker will go oh my god, this is the pairing we wait for that aha moment where there’s a balance between the wine and the chocolate and one does not overpower the other. And it leaves you with a very nice after taste that is just lingers and it keeps on changing. It’s very complex. So that’s what I’m looking for when I create pairings so you can’t just choose any chocolate and put it against anyone it will taste awful.

Natalie MacLean 23:56
Yeah, that’s true. But learning which ones taste good or not is the fun part. So I have chosen Massey Maroney, which is a honkin, Big Red but dry wine from Italy. It’s a beautiful line with a lot of dark cherry flavours and I just thought I’d give this one a try to see how it works with chocolate, real chocolate. What do you think of an AMA Roni as a style? Oh,

Roxanne Browning 24:19
oh, I love Mr. Maroney. my favourites. I collect Italian wines and oh, doesn’t get much better than that.

Natalie MacLean 24:27
No, it doesn’t. So which one Have you chosen there Roxanne?

Roxanne Browning 24:30
Well, I have a California read. And the reason why I have that is because I was asked to create a pairing for it.

Natalie MacLean 24:38
I have got a piece of milk chocolate here and had a piece of dark chocolate. I’ve got a piece of chocolate with nuts in it one of those fusion types. Which one would you suggest will work or which one should we try first?

Roxanne Browning 24:51
What’s the percentage? Oh,

Natalie MacLean 24:53
these are good chocolates. I was fearful or wrong chocolates with you. I guess 70% dark chocolate is what I’ve got for my first one.

Roxanne Browning 25:04
All right, the Moroni would probably do well with that one. Okay, well give it a try.

Natalie MacLean 25:10
And do you try to have the chocolate and the wine in your mouth at

Unknown Speaker 25:12
the same time, what

Roxanne Browning 25:13
I do is I taste the wine.

Unknown Speaker 25:16
And then you go to the chocolate, I guess.

Roxanne Browning 25:18
I taste the chocolate individually. See, I have the wine and the chocolate. And you make a mental note of what they both taste like, independently of one another, and many having together. I’m going to start out with a 66 from Peru. Okay.

Natalie MacLean 25:40
I’m liking that. That doesn’t take the sugary at all.

Natalie 25:44
I am never going back either.

Roxanne Browning 25:48
Give you some good 30 seconds cuz you want that long finish. Ah

Unknown Speaker 25:53

Roxanne Browning 25:55
I have to say that the one that I just tried worked very well. But I’m going to continue. You really have to make sure you do you have to be thorough in this business.

Natalie 26:06
We’re doing it for the people.

Roxanne Browning 26:09
To do this, I have a 72% here from Tanzania. Okay, that want to try a little bit more robust, a little bit more tenons. So it may match up to the Xin. I felt that the AMA

Natalie MacLean 26:21
Roni and the dark chocolate worked for texture and taste. So the one was lovely at first, and then I had the chocolate it melted. And I guess chocolate melts a body temperature I’ve heard but correct me if I’m wrong there. Right. Okay. And then the wine came in and with its acidity and its richness because amarone is a big wine and this one’s 15% alcohol, but it also has a beautiful black cherry river of black chair and it just carried away the chocolate. Refreshing my palate literally ready for the next bite. I just thought they really married well both in weight and taste.

Roxanne Browning 26:58
How about for you in that first chocolate and the first chocolate I thought went better. It was a little bit more fruity. A little bit more acidic. So it balanced out. Zen I felt that the Tanzania bar was too tannic, and I got it off taste at the end, which is not pleasant.

Natalie MacLean 27:19
Off taste in the chocolate or the wine.

Roxanne Browning 27:22
Well both just not a good combination.

Natalie MacLean 27:25
What’s happening when you get the the off test is it just one is too powerful? Or they’re just reacting together and not? Oh, yeah,

Roxanne Browning 27:31
it’s a really bad reaction. Yeah, it’s like oil and, you know, vinegar, I guess is the best way unless you really you know, mix it up, but it just did not taste well. Hmm. Okay. Well,

Natalie MacLean 27:46
do you think milk chocolate would be horrendous with Emma Rody? Or will it work? Because no, we’ve got dairy content here. So

Roxanne Browning 27:54
you know, you got to try it just to see what doesn’t work. So I’m curious what your reaction is.

Natalie MacLean 28:00
I do love melt chocolate, but I’m changing my world slowly here. Okay. Oh, that Mr. Oh, do you know the chocolate has the perception to have them or creates a perception of almost lightening the wine because the chocolate has this richness and denseness to it. Usually amarone he just hits me because it’s a big one. But this is having the influence of lightning and lifting the wine in a lovely way like making it almost feel like it’s a medium bodied wine rather than a full bodied one. And I get that.

Roxanne Browning 28:32
You got that with the milk or the first chocolate.

Unknown Speaker 28:35
The first chocolate. Okay,

Roxanne Browning 28:36
I’m just eating the milk. Yeah, now that your description sounds right on. Oh, good. Well, texture, as you said, plays a very important role. mouthfeel chocolate also has mouthfeel to it and thickness of the chocolate. For instance, I have this one here from Grenada, which is a very thick chocolate. I’m gonna try that next and it has cocoa nibs in it, which is part of the cacao bean. And some producers elect to put those in there. Just for crunch and for texture. It’s quite interesting. Yeah.

Natalie MacLean 29:11
And so Okay, so you get that crunchy

Unknown Speaker 29:13

Natalie MacLean 29:14
It’s not quite the same, but you know, some beginners will include the stems or C’s to get an extra tannin component into their wine. But you’ll get crunchy bits. That that’s interesting. I’m going to try this the wine now after the milk chocolate

Roxanne Browning 29:29
will happen together in your math. Okay, the chocolate and the wine together in your mouth.

Natalie MacLean 29:34
So it’s really difficult. A lot of dead air. But what I am noticing about the melt chocolate, is it some grainy I think I’m picking up the sugar or something in it. I like the dark chocolate better and it’s just a smooth river like the wine itself.

Roxanne Browning 29:51
Yeah. Yeah, I find that the better the wine, the better quality chocolate you need. Okay, I can add Maroney like I have a Barolo. And super Tuscans and I have to have a very fine chocolate with those with a high cow constant or else it’s just not going to measure up. You need a bowl chocolate with a bowl of wine. Yeah, the

Natalie MacLean 30:12
milk chocolate doesn’t work. Yeah, it just feels wimpy and simple compared to the wine. It feels like there’s a grown up in a child or something. Yeah,

Roxanne Browning 30:20
thank you. Oh, that’s, that’s very good.

Unknown Speaker 30:23

Natalie MacLean 30:24
I still like chocolate.

Roxanne Browning 30:26
Not like the one. I have actually I pair white wines as well with chocolate. Yeah. And well, again, it’s trial and error. But Chardonnay and Riesling is my general ones that I work with. And I have a white chocolate from the Philippines that really works well with a few of them along with some spicy fusions. You know how white wine has a lot of spicy notes to it, sometimes a citrus notes, right? Yes, I have some chocolates that pair well with that. They have a banana or cayenne pepper in their Juniper and very interesting combinations.

Natalie MacLean 31:08
Well, there again, to draw another similarity. Those are bridging ingredients. Like when I talk about pairing wine with say a salad with perhaps a bit regret people think oh god, you can’t do it. There’s vegetables, there’s ninigret. But if you have some bacon in there, that savoury, that can be the bridge that brings the two together and then they can work together the wine and something unusual like that. So I’ve got one with chocolate with nuts in it. So that’s really going to influence the parent isn’t.

Unknown Speaker 31:36

Unknown Speaker 31:39
So much fun.

Roxanne Browning 31:39
I have a mocha chocolate from Madagascar that I’m going to try. Okay,

Unknown Speaker 31:44
what makes it mocha? Well, the

Roxanne Browning 31:46
chocolate maker infused espresso beans. Oh, and I have one here from Madagascar bar. That’s phenomenal. And it’s very smooth. And I generally use this one with a full bodied red. If I’m going to use it, I usually use it my last pairing because it’s such a dynamic way to end an event. It tastes like dessert, you know, when you have a mocha? You know, it’s like coffee and chocolate and wine in your mouth. Huh?

Natalie MacLean 32:15
That’s a sense of comforting to kind of almost smoky and mire side or something.

Unknown Speaker 32:22
Huh? back to that dark chocolate. I think I’m going to polish off what I have here.

Unknown Speaker 32:28
That one went well with it. It did it.

Roxanne Browning 32:31
Oh, yeah. Yeah.

Natalie MacLean 32:32
Nice. Well, are there any wines that you feel just don’t work? I know it’s about experimentation. But in all you’re trying and experimenting? Are there certain types of lines that just don’t really work? Well with both types of chocolate,

Roxanne Browning 32:49
I have to say I have not found an alcoholic beverage that does not pair with a chocolate because I have so many chocolates to choose from. And when I’m in the wine world, which is 99% of what I do, there is not a wine that I have not found a match for. But just to give you an idea. I don’t necessarily need to have very expensive wines to pair. A lot of producers that I work with wine producers have wines that are reasonably priced, and the chocolate makes their wines drink off. So you can have a $20 bottle that could taste like a 50 with the chocolate. Wow.

Natalie MacLean 33:31
I’ll keep drinking tonight. Roxanne, this was a lot of fun. I mean, I just You have ruined me in terms of chocolate. I’m not going to candy aisle anymore. But there is a world of difference here and a world of pleasure. So thank you for opening that up. And I love to chat with you again sometime because I know this is a big topic and you know a lot about it. So

Roxanne Browning 33:52
anytime I’d love to thank you so much, Natalie.

Natalie MacLean 34:01
Well, there you have it. I hope you enjoyed my chat with Roxanne brownie. Here are my takeaways. Number one, I love all the similarities Roxanne noted between wine and chocolate from the importance of terroir and where they’re grown to not being overly manipulated when they’re being made. Even the parallel between using sugar and dairy to mask poor cocoa beans is similar to using a lot of oak and high alcohol to cover up poor grapes. To I didn’t realise that cocoa beans are fruit, not legumes or vegetables because they grow on trees and therefore they have varying degrees of acidity like wine. Three Roxanne gives great advice for serving chocolate like cheese. Let it come up to room temperature to appreciate the aromas and flavours for in the future. I’ll be looking to buy direct trade chocolate when I can to support farmers more fully and directly in the shownotes you’ll find links to the wines and chocolates we tasted the video version of this chat so you can see the cocoa beans and other visuals Roxanne refers to where you can find me on both instagram and facebook live every second Wednesday at 7pm. And how you can join me in a free online wine and food pairing class. That’s all in the show notes at Natalie mcclain.com forward slash 109 or 109. If you’re interested in my hosting a wine and cheese or wine and chocolate tasting for your group, please email me at Natalie MacLean calm and you’ll also find my contact in the show notes. You won’t want to miss next week when I’m going solo to share with you some tipsy adjectives for over sampling. Not that I’m encouraging you to over sample, but I find the language around this topic fascinating. And yes, sometimes humorous. In the meantime, if you missed Episode 56 go back and take a listen. I chat with the restaurant guys, Mark Pascal and Francis shot about champagne. That’ll get you warmed up for your new year. I’ll share a short clip with you now to whet your appetite. So you go into a restaurant you sit down there’s a bit daunting wine list. It’s a tome What do you recommend? First of all I look at what kind of joint Am I am Is this a Lassie place that has some staff who are going to be wine knowledgeable, could be a sommelier could be the wine dude. But if there’s somebody there that I think really does know the list, I’m going to ask that person, the person who works in the restaurant always knows his or her wine list better than I do, because chances are they’ve tasted the one on the list, let’s hope they have. And then if there’s really no one in sight, or no one’s coming for a ride, in terms of who knows the list, I’m going to look for regions I may personally be familiar with, or what is this restaurant specialising in is if it’s an Italian restaurant, I’m going to look at the Italian list because it’s going to match the food most likely, but also Let’s hope they have a special passion for the wine from that country. I’ll narrow it down further to that. And then of course, I’ll say within my price range. And now

if you liked this episode, please tell one friend about it this week, especially someone you know who be interested in the wine and chocolate pairing tips that Roxanne shared. Thank you for taking the time to join me here. I wish you a Happy New Year and health, prosperity and lots of terrific wines in 2021. I hope something great is in your glass this week. Perhaps a full bodied red wine that pairs beautifully with dark chocolate.

You don’t want to miss one juicy episode of this podcast, especially the secret full body bonus episodes that I don’t announce on social media. So subscribe for free now at Natalie MacLean comm forward slash subscribe.

Unknown Speaker 38:11
We’ll be here next week. Cheers