Green and Blue Wine and Chocolate Tasting

Posted By Stephen


Last Thursday we were invited to Green and Blue for a wine and chocolate tasting along with Gourmet Chick, Food Stories, Cheese and Biscuits, Around Britain with a Paunch and Chocolate Chilli Cupcakes. Green and Blue is a wine shop, bar, deli and cafe in East Dulwich. Good principles are at the heart of what they do; they source their food as locally as they can and as responsibly and as ethically as they can and don’t slap too high a mark-up on it. We weren’t big fans of their light fittings, but were of pretty much everything else.

We arrived a bit early and tucked into a meat and cheese platter while we waited for the others to arrive. The ham was lovely; really good, tasty ham that had the sort of texture that makes you feel as though you knew the pig that it came from. I despise wet, mass-produced ham; dry ham with a proper meaty texture really excites me. Along with it was some bresaola and a couple of cheeses. One of the cheeses was an aged Wensleydale (much better than the boring supermarket version I’d had before) with a long-lasting flavour. The other I can’t remember the name of – it was white and soft and tasted slightly blue but didn’t have any visible mould and was very good too.

Anyway, on to the wine and chocolate tasting. I have had wine with chocolate only a few times before and the wine has always been fortified – Banyuls or Port in particular. Banyuls with a chocolate dessert is actually one of my long-lasting wine matching memories, but I haven’t tried wine with chocolate much since.

So it came as a surprise that none of the four wines that we tasted on Thursday were fortified. We started with light reds and light milk chocolate, then worked our way to a heavier varieties of both, before skipping back to white chocolate and white wine as the “dessert course”. All of the chocolate was Montezuma’s chocolate, which was very good indeed. The lady who ran the tasting was Kate Thal, one of the owners of Green and Blue, and her knowledge of wine is admirable, having been a sommelier in a previous life.


The first “course” was a light milk chocolate (I can’t remember the cocoa percentage) with a New Zealand Pinot Noir – Amisfield 2006 to be precise. This pinot is from Central Otago, which is a one of the coolest wine production areas in New Zealand, being particularly suitable to pinot noir. It wasn’t a shy flower of a wine though, being 14% alcohol but well balanced enough so that the alcohol did not seem overpowering. Although the area is cool, it still gets a lot of sunlight, which contributes to this high alcohol content.

According to Kate, this match is a bit of a “no-brainer” with a lot of people who come to do the wine and chocolate tasting. It didn’t resonate quite that way with us though; the chocolate and wine didn’t quite seem to marry up on the palate that well. To me the combination tasted a bit like a cherry flavoured chocolate, but you had to have a little chocolate, then a little wine, then a little chocolate, then a little more wine to bring that combination about. The wine was a good example of a New Zealand pinot noir, with a lot of fresh red fruit and just a hint of a savoury note with a touch of tannin to balance it.

Next up was a slightly darker (57%?) chocolate, served with a South African Merlot (Radford Dale 2005 Merlot from Stellenbosch). Along with the higher cocoa content in the chocolate, we got a higher tannin content in the wine. The wine was also more savoury, with leathery and coffee notes alongside the plummy fruit. This all worked out rather well and for most of us (including me), this was our favourite match of the evening.

Next up was a further step into the world of cocoa and tannin. The chocolate was a 73% dark chocolate and the wine was a Bandol from Provence in southern France. The depth of the chocolate with the tannin and depth of flavour in the wine went well together, but not quite as well as the previous pairing. This wine edged its way ahead of the Merlot for me and I enjoyed the chocolate the most, but the match between the two was slightly less successful.

Finally, we ventured onto white chocolate. This was probably a nicest white chocolate I’ve tasted; normally I refer to white chocolate as “solid fat”, i.e all cocoa butter and no actual chocolate content, but not this was certainly worthwhile and a good few steps ahead of mass-produced versions. The wine to accompany it was a Moscato d’Asti, which had a lovely floral and fruit nose from the Muscat grapes, along with a bit of sparkle. The wine is low in alcohol, slightly sparkly and tastes a lot like floral grape juice and isn’t to everyone’s taste. I have grown to appreciate muscat over the past few months as a result of my foray into fortified wines for my exam, and although this isn’t fortified and isn’t particularly to my taste, I can still appreciate it objectively.

For me, the match was along the lines of the first pairing – give it quite a bit of time and many nibbles of chocolate and sips of wine and you can get there. I got the impression that others thought it better than the first pair but not up to the standards of the middle two.

After the tasting, we were treated to a couple of platters of their deli specialties and along with the aforementioned meats and cheeses, there were some lovely almonds, olives, tarramasalata and pieces of smoked salmon wrapped around fennel. Delicious. The lovely olive oil that they serve is available to take away in your own bottles too.

So quite an adventurous evening; a foray into hitherto unexplored food and wine matching. At the same time, a great opportunity to chat to fellow bloggers and also to have a look at what Green and Blue are doing out in Dulwich.

Kate Thal, who was born in South Africa, mentioned their scholarship winner from South Africa who was working with them and it reminded me of an article I’d read about a London-based wine distributor running a scholarship program to bring over disadvantaged young people from South Africa who were interested in wine and showed great aptitude in it. I found a familiar-sounding article and it sounds like it is just what I remembered.

Mar 15th, 2009

5 Comments to 'Green and Blue Wine and Chocolate Tasting'

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  1. Great review, I just posted on the night this morning as well although unsurprisingly your review is a lot more knowledgeable about the wine side of things!

    Gourmet Chick’s last blog post..Green and Blue

  2. Antonia said,

    How interesting. I’m hosting a chocolate and wine matching event for work next month (a repeat of an event I did last year) and most of our matches are fortified. And sweet too. I’m not sure about non-sweet wines with chocolate personally. I do like to pair Moscato d’Asti with chocolate though – it worked particularly well with a milk chocolate truffle that we showed last time.

    Antonia’s last blog post..Harissa chicken

  3. Stephen said,

    Antonia, the fortified route has been my (limited) experience of wine-and-chocolate in the past, which is why I found these particularly interesting. There does seem to be affinity between the savoury notes in a red wine and the slight bitterness and oiliness in a not-too-sweet chocolate.

    I hope the tasting that you’re hosting goes well!

  4. Chocolate Chilli Cupcakes said,

    Totally agree with your cocoa solids/wine tannins point. An interesting tasting all round I thought – always good to be taken out of the comfort zone!

    Chocolate Chilli Cupcakes’s last blog post..Wine, Chocolate and Dracula

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