Friday, December 21, 2012

What a pairing, Wine and Chocolates

Sea Salt Caramel in 70% Dark Chocolate
Holiday Greetings from Regusci Winery and Essence by Chocolate! Tea Time was welcomed by the amazing chocolate-covered caramels pictured above when we walked up to check-in for the private, invitation only Chocolate and Wine pairing event being held in the lower level of Bloomies.

essence by chocolate offerings on display.
Is this a party or what?

After getting a glass of the Regusci Proprietary Blend from the lovely Leslie we noshed on a few caramels and caught up with friends (plus eavesdropped on strangers) until a good-sized group had gathered. With introductions an interesting story unfolded, telling us of how Nicole from essence by chocolate got her start infusing wine and spirits into her delectable chocolates. She was referred to the well-established local winery Regusci by a friend, and once Nicole introduced them to her confections they were hooked. A partnership was born with them co-creating an exclusive tasting/pairing program. Leslie (a former pastry chef) and Nicole worked together to marry wine and chocolate in winning combinations. The guests who attended this event were lucky enough to taste two pairings from this union. 

Pairing 1

With or without Almonds on top*

Patriarch Proprietary Blend (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc) with Patriarch & Roasted Almond Truffle (ganache: 61% chocolate, butter & wine; hand-dipped in 61% chocolate) Nicole thoughtfully left some truffles nut-free for those with allergies. This is a great thing to remember with small batch businesses; they can easily customize for your needs! In fact, Nicole has a line of tequila infused truffles, and used the tequila co-owned by Carlos Santana to create these confections as a specialty gift for his birthday. Yes, Nicole crafts every batch by hand! So you get a bit of her love for chocolate and attention to detail in every delicious bite.

Pairing 2

 Caramel infused ganache inside*
Leslie said we shouldn't quote her, so we'll say we heard it through the grapevine that this wine is the Regusci Mac Daddy. Angelo's Estate Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon has big and bold flavor which is partnered with this Fleur de Sel Caramel Ganache (ganache: blend of 45% milk chocolate & 70% dark chocolate; hand-dipped in 70% chocolate).

More infusions: 1 Bourbon  2 & 3 Tequila
What? You don't think that's enough chocolate? Need more flavors? You got it! In addition to wine infused truffles, we got to taste two kinds of tequila (Mango, Chile Pepper & Blanco Tequila in Milk Chocolate enveloped in White Chocolate; Anejo Tequila-infused Chocolate -70% all the way through). Plus an awesome Bourbon-infused Chocolate (ganache: blend of milk and 61% enveloped in 70% chocolate). We agree with Nicole that your Grandma won't recognize these gourmet versions of sticky liquor-filled chocolate bottles that used to be de rigueur at the Holidays.

  Mango, Chile Pepper & Blanco Tequila flavors hidden inside.

Bourbon-infused Chocolates to tempt you.

 Anejo Tequila-infused Chocolate, 70% dark.

Tea Time had a lot of fun at this event. It was a merry way to kick off our holidays. We think everyone who attended had a most enjoyable time. Nicole and Leslie were open and eager to answer questions about their businesses and products. Guests who attended even got to take home items if their raffle number won. JK got a box of caramels, which Angela kept trying to claim! Everyone was jealous of the person who took home a bottle of the "Mac Daddy" wine.

Interesting conversation.
Introducing the pairings.

Any tips of the trade?
A smorgasboard!

This event was put together by Housewares & Culinary Expert (our title) Constance Austin. If you're interested in getting more info about Bloomies events and demos, you can contact her by email or simply stop by the lower level and sign up on her contact sheet. If you do stop in you may get a sample of something delicious as well as a chance to ask about all your pressing holiday kitchen needs... rubber spatula? Got you covered. Place settings? Here. Free snacks? Sometimes! 

Nicole, the brains and beauty of Essence.

Our lovely wine expert Leslie.
The number one thing that Tea Time took home from this event was the admonition to have fun with wine! Focus on the smell and taste, and these chocolates enable you to do that without distraction. So don't host a boring wine party this Holiday Season! Make it interesting with wine and chocolate pairings. Whether you're prepped by professionals or do-it-yourself, please take time to have fun with friends and enjoy yourselves!

Let the good times roll!


Nicole has added a series of video tasting adventures to her website. An introduction to the series is here and the series of videos is here.

*some pictures used in this post were taken by and given to Tea Time for their use in this blog post by Nicole of Essence by Chocolate. Thanks Nicole!