Previously unbeknownst to me, there are gourmet missionaries out there who challenge themselves to find the most compatible wines to partner with fine chocolate. And why not, a double whammy of euphoric neurostimulation if it works I suppose. My own experiences had been limited to spontaneous and regrettable occasions when mouth puckered at unpleasant tartness as vin du jour clashed with tastebuds sweetened with the preceding chocolaty morsel. I’d been trying it all wrong and haphazard it seems, just should’ve made sure my wine of choice was sweeter to the palate than the chocolate. A syrupy fortified perhaps, or a luscious Aussie botrytis semillon. But fresh reds like merlot, pinot noir or shiraz? Well, home-grown chocolate brand Cocoa Farm of Melbourne-based company Farm by Nature believes so and has taken out the guesswork with their Wine Chocolate products.
Farm by Nature Marketing asked Spot4Nosh whether we would like to review their new Shiraz Wine Chocolate Barrel gift box product and after absolutely no arm twisting by them whatsoever, we promptly agreed to a complimentary box in the mail to sample. A nicely evocative box containing individually wrapped mini ‘wine-barrels’ of a blend of milk and dark chocolate (38% cocoa solids) which in turn encased raisins that had been thoroughly soaked in wine, Australian shiraz in this case. Nothing too different from your standard raisin studded choc bar perhaps but the angle is in the infusion of ‘real’ wine into the fruit. The wine flavour is subtle, nothing like the harsh liquid bitterness of liqueur chocolates. It leaves a faintly tart but not at all unpleasant aftertaste, which actually became quite moreish. I am not usually one who’ll go weak at the knees when presented with chocolate, but the wine chocolate barrels were quite good. I guess the mouthfeel could have been smoother, not quite up there with the really good boutique or European products. And I’m not quite convinced one will be able to tell the difference between the three wine ‘flavours’ in the range. All the same, Cocoa Farm chocolate beats many of the mass products found on the supermarket shelves. That the wine chocolate range was developed by Australian food technologists is a plus. The company has also invested in Australia’s first commercial cocoa plantation in North Queensland which will make for even more of a home grown product. I certainly wouldn’t mind another gift box or three to savour over after-dinner coffee or further glass of shiraz. It’s the season to be jolly after all! To the gifters, you may have to hunt around a little for them!