The People’s Association Lifestyle Masters Series presents
Mingling the Best of Both Worlds: An Evening of Wines and Chocolates
Some people feel that pairing wine with chocolate is not an outright compatibility. However, wines and chocolates are like cats and dogs – they actually make natural companions, each bearing individual characteristics and flavour notes yet sharing similar nuances that many are unaware of.
Last Thursday evening I attended An Evening of Wines and Chocolates, a session on pairing wines and chocolates right, an event of the People’s Association (PA) Lifestyle Masters Series by the PMET Division. Held at Cairnhill Community Club, the event starred wine connoisseur George Wong and Chef Janice Wong, owner of 2am:dessert bar, who shared their valuable knowledge with us.
George Wong, referred to as the ‘God of Wine’ by local press, has a Bachelors in Oenology (the science and study of all aspects of wine and winemaking except vine-growing and grape-harvesting) and a Wine MBA. The founder of the Wine Lovers Club in Singapore, George is an accredited wine lecturer from Bordeaux Wine School and a strong practitioner of ‘Wine Edu-tainment’, ie. entertaining while educating about wine.
Dining experiences are enhanced by wine, food, ambience and companionship, but when you go to a restaurant, do you select your wine or food first? For George, he will order a bottle of wine first, to allow it to breathe while he chooses his food. Also, upon interacting with food, wine can taste different, hence it is advisable to taste wine before food.
Did You Know?
There are four main components of wine – Sweetness, Acid, Tannin and Alcohol, while our tongue can taste SIX different sensations – Sweet, Sour, Salty, Bitter, Umami (savoury) and Kokumi (something like a taste enhancer where salty food tastes saltier etc).
As George shared, here are three ways to go about Marrying Wine with Food:
1) Complementing Food with Wine
- Wine should not dominate or overpower the dish.
- In the case of having wine with dessert, the wine has to be sweeter than the dessert.
- eg. Spicy food goes with spicy wine like Syrah or Shiraz
2) Contrasting Food with Wine
- The spicier the food, the sweeter the wine.
- eg. If you are having Szechuan Ma La Steamboat, choose chilled white wine, and not tannic wine of low alcohol, otherwise it is literally adding fire to fire.
3) Accompanying Food with Wine
- Match the dish with the same richness and weight of wine
- eg. Dim Sum + Pinot Noir, Beef + Bordeaux Red, light chocolate (50% cacao) + lighter wine, heavier chocolate (80% cacao and beyond) + heavier wine
Essentially, George has three main points about food to take into consideration when selecting wine to go with it:
1) Ingredient (predominant flavour, texture, weight)
2) Cooking Method
It was then time to learn a little about chocolates. Chocolate is something that we are all familiar with – most of us women blaming chocolate for causing our pants to become tighter, yet embracing chocolate at times when we are down. However, there is so much more about chocolate that we actually don’t know.
Chef Janice Wong, chef-owner of 2am:dessertbar, 2am:lab and 2am:experience, is a fast-rising star in both local and international culinary arenas, testament to her imaginative creations and commitment to delivering multi-sensory experiences for all who taste her desserts. Her refined and ever-evolving dessert creations began with her studies at Le Cordon Bleu Paris, arguably the world’s best culinary school. Since then, her flawlessly designed desserts have graced the most prestigious tables from the World Gourmet Summit to the Miele Gala Dinner. Wong’s impeccable eye for design and attention to detail have been applauded by the world’s most celebrated chefs, from chocolatier Pierre Hermé, to Christophe Adam of Fauchon.
Known for her progressive desserts, Chef Janice enjoys pairing them with wine and she is always pushing boundaries with the aim of re-creating. To quote her, “Everything on a plate has a purpose and when I paired desserts with wines. I enjoy challenging people’s palettes to introduce new things to them and the idea is to just keep creating and to create textures and techniques for the future generations, present and future.”
She started by telling us about the history of chocolate and then explaining the types of chocolates. Pure, unsweetened chocolate contains primarily cocoa solids and cocoa butter in varying proportions, but much of the chocolate consumed today is in the form of sweet chocolate, combining chocolate with sugar.
Dark Chocolate -
Made by adding fat and sugar to the cacao mixture
Milk Chocolate -
Sweet chocolate that additionally contains milk powder or condensed milk
White Chocolate -
A mixture of sugar, cocoa butter and milk solids with a texture similar to milk and dark chocolate, but does not contain any cocoa solids (hence some countries don’t consider white chocolate as chocolate at all)
As Chef Janice was talking, a pretty plate of chocolate was served to each of us…
… this were our sampling chocolates for the night!
Chef Janice was telling us to hold on and not to start eating the chocolates, but to wait for George and her to start explaining which wine to go with what chocolates. However, it was quite hard to resist the tempting chocolate delights from 2am:dessertbar sitting right in from of them that some people started polishing off their plates. Fortunately Chef Janice brought lots of chocolates that night, so the not-supposed-to-be-eaten-yet pieces were refilled.
Three types of wine were introduced that night to be paired with the chocolates:
1) Lindeman’s Bin 45 Cabernet Sauvignon + Dark Chocolate
2) Bin 50 Shiraz + Milk Chocolate/Pralines
3) Zibbibo Sparkling Wine + White Chocolate
George said to drink the wine first, then eat the chocolate and as the chocolate is melting in your mouth, drink the wine again. After you’ve finished eating the chocolate completely, drink the wine again. Taste how different the wine is each time! Then, Chef Janice said, eat the chocolate first, then drink some wine, then eat the chocolate again.. similarly, taste how different the chocolate is! Try both methods – of either wine first or chocolate first – the sensations are really varying. Have some plain water on hand too, to help wash down.
We were very lucky to get some signature creations of Chef Janice’s, such as the Chocolate Water:
50% chocolate, 50% water; like a light chocolate mousse
… Pop Rocks* Pralines with Hazelnuts (*Pop Rocks is the carbonated candy that jumps on your tongue and causes a fizzy reaction)…
This was insanely good!
… Betel White Chocolate with Passion Fruit Paper…
… White Chocolate within Cheese (something like cheesecake)…
These are all served at 2am:dessertbar by the way!
Grassroots Adviser, Ms Indranee Rajah, Member of Parliament for Tanjong Pagar GRC, came by and welcomed us all to Cairnhill CC – which I thought was a really good and centralised location that was easy for everyone to come over after work.
By the end of the night, everyone’s plates and glasses were empty.
General questions about wines and chocolates were also asked and both speakers were more than happy to address those queries.
There was ample time before, during and after event for networking and I had the chance to speak to some of the other participants. Prior to this event, most of them had no clue about wines being paired with chocolates, but now, it has become a new-found addiction for some!
Thank you George and Chef Janice for sharing with us about the world of wines and chocolates, and also to the PMET Division by the PA for putting together such an insightful evening!
Bottoms up everybody!
For more photos of the event, view them on the PMET Network’s Facebook page here.