Chocolate and Saving Labels

By / Magazine / March 4th, 2010 / 2

Are there any wines that match well with chocolate?

Some things just sound like they should go together: beer and pretzels, tequila and lime juice, me and Penelope Cruz. Truth is; many unions that look good on paper are a train wreck waiting to happen, and chocolate and wine a perfect example.

Over the centuries, chocolate’s relationship with wine has become sort of an affinity cliché (almost on par with how supposedly great a match wine is with cheese). Both chocolate and cheese are palate-coating eatables with a variety of personalities that can wreak havoc on a liquid partner.

Chocolate’s thick sweetness is its own personal landmine that sits between you and a decent wine pairing. The trick is to pick juice that at least offers a comparable level of sweetness, density and, if possible, mocha in its flavour profile.

If your confectionary selection is dark (with a bittersweet or semisweet sensibility) think red wines made with Zinfandel, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon (from the New World). A rich Pinot Noir would also work, as would a late bottled vintage or aged tawny port.

Lighter Pinot Noir and Merlot make a nice match with milkier chocolate, as do sticky dessert whites and fragrant, middle-of-the-road German Rieslings. Since I’m a bubbly fanatic from way back, I don’t mind how drier sparkling wines play with chocolate (especially when it’s white). That said; the fresh fruit of a slightly sweeter Asti style from Italy is really a better companion.

I find saving labels the best way to remember my favourite wines. Do you have any tips on how to easily remove them from the bottles?

To tell you the truth, I can’t think of the last time I bothered to try separating a wine label from its bottle. Come on, it’s the 21st century. Just about everything we lug around with us these days has a built-in camera, so I just point, shoot and voilà — the label gets Blackberried. From there I can email, Facebook, Flickr, twit and blog it. Or, send it to my home computer and add it to my virtual tasting book. If I want to get all ‘Little House On The Prairie’ I can actually print the darn thing just like back in the good old days.

If your photog skills are lacking, there’s a thing called the Internet. All you have to do is enter the wine’s name into Google image search and you’re bound to find at least one high-resolution picture of the label — if not one of the whole bottle — that’s suitable for framing. One click and it’s yours.

But I digress. By the sounds of it you’re thinking what I’ve just suggested is like something out of Star Trek. So here we go. Getting a label off is a 50/50 proposition that depends on its style and how the winery has stuck it on.

Most paper labels are affixed with glue that’s slopped on separately. In other words, the adhesive isn’t joined to the label like, say, the stick’m on a postage stamp. All you need to do is soak the sucker (bottle and all) in some boiled water and, presto; it will eventually break free of its bottle bonds. The trick is to wipe off any excess glue while it’s still in a melted state (thanks to the heat of the water) before you press the label between some paper towels under an encyclopedia or equally hefty volume (because who still reads encyclopedias — see Internet reference above). That will keep the label from curling into a distorted mess when it dries.

Sadly, like modern-day postage stamps, many wine panels are self-adhesive, which makes them nearly impossible to remove in one piece. My suggestion? Take some photography lessons.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Fresh, funny and down-to-earth, Peter Rockwell is the everyman's wine writer. Born in Halifax, Nova Scotia he's worked in the liquor industry for over 30 years and has written about wine, spirits & beer since graduating from the School of Journalism at the University of King's College in 1986. His reviews and feature articles have been published in Tidings, Vines, Occasions, Where and on Alliant.net to name a few; he has been a weekly on-air wine feature columnist for both CBC-TV and Global Television and his wine column 'Liquid Assets' appeared weekly in two of Nova Scotia's daily newspapers, 'The Halifax Daily News' and 'The Cape Breton Post.' Today Peter's irreverent answer man column 'Bon Vivant' appears each month in Tidings Magazine and his weekly 'Liquid Assets' column is published across Canada in editions of the METRO newspaper. When not drinking at home, and at work, Peter travels the globe looking for something to fill his glass and put into words.

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