Wines and chocolate will make a heavenly match
February is month for pairings. and it’s also known for Valentine’s Day, which, of course, was set up for couples to spend money on each other.
February will also see the debut of a partnership between the Park City Wine Club and the Salt Lake Culinary Center, said Club President Pamela Wood, a certified sommelier.
The union’s first pairing event is aptly titled “Wine and Chocolate/Chocolate and Wine: A Match Made in Heaven.”
The class will run for two hours, 6-8 p.m., on Friday, Feb. 9, at the Salt Lake Culinary Center, 2233 S. 300 East in Salt Lake City.
The cost is $65, and it includes the wines, the chocolate ingredients and education.
“This is a fun early Valentine’s Day date night, or a time when friends can get together and have some fun with wine and chocolate,” Wood said. “Also, this isn’t just learning about and tasting chocolates and wine. It’s a hands-on experience. So there will be some education, tasting and doing.”
Chocolate is similar to wine in that the taste is affected by where the ingredients are grown and the culture of those areas, according to Wood.
“Depending where it comes from – Ecuadorian, Madagascan – there are different elements in the cocoa bean that makes the chocolate,” she said.
Participants will learn the history of chocolate and learn how to make their own truffles.
“They’ll also learn what dipping chocolate is and how to dip fruit and pretzel sticks in it,” Wood said. “They will also learn about five different wines and pair them with the chocolate, which will be provided by Ritual Chocolate.”
The evening will start with the introduction to the wines and chocolates.
“We’ll do a little pairing before we start working on the dipping chocolate,” Wood said. “We’ll then take a break and make truffles.”
While the truffles set, the class will sample Ritual Chocolate’s brownies.
“The brownies are gluten free and doesn’t contain nuts,” Wood said. “Those crunchy things are just chocolate nibs.”
After that pairing, the class will return to sample the truffles with wine.
“Everyone will get the recipes and the Ritual Chocolate samples to take home,” Wood said.
Wood and Salt Lake Culinary Center Director and owner Diane Sheya selected the wines and chocolates for the class a few months ago.
“We did a lot of practice tastings, and we actually had some combinations that weren’t very good,” Wood said. “Some people will think to pair a cabernet sauvignon, a widely recognized red wine, with a dark chocolate. That’s not exactly true, because chocolate and wine both contain tannin.”
Tannin is a natural chemical compound that gives wine its dryness and chocolate its bitterness.
“So when you pair those two together, you end up fighting for dryness in your mouth and not enjoying any of the flavors,” she said. “We had to figure out the challenge of knowing the chemistry of the grape and the flavor wine.”
Selecting the chocolate to fit the wines was also an adventure.
“We have to know if we’re going to pair that with white chocolate, dark chocolate, a flavored chocolate,” Wood said.
Wood met Sheya through a series of circumstances last year.
“I work with a private chef, Mattson McFarland, on various wine events, and he’s also an instructor at the Salt Lake Culinary Center,” Wood said. “We did an event with the Salt Lake Culinary Center before the holidays, and that’s when I met Diane.”
Sheya showed Wood around the center.
“I was amazed to see this beautiful hands-on cooking center, and that’s when we decided to do some events together,” Wood said. “This is the first of three that we’re doing, and we just want to see how it will go.”
The Park City Wine Club and Salt Lake Culinary Center will present “Wine and Chocolate / Chocolate and Wine: A Match Made in Heaven” from 6-8 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 9, at the Salt Lake Culinary Center, 2233 S. 300 East. The cost is $65. The event is open to participants ages 21 and older. Reservations are required. To make reservations, visit http://www.saltlakeculinarycenter.com/events/wine-and-chocolate-a-match-made-in-heaven.
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