So much to love about wine and chocolate |

So much to love about wine and chocolate

Caramie SchnellVail, CO, Colorado
AE Chocolate Wine3 PU 4-10-07

VAIL – Sniff, snap, eat. Sniff, swirl, sip. That was the drill for the Taste of Vail’s Cacao Reserve by Hershey’s Chocolate and Wine Seminar held on Friday at the Vail Marriott Mountain Resort. Who knew that snapping chocolate is key to any highbrow chocolate tasting? Chocolate with a higher cacao percentage usually has more snap to it, said Lina Bierker, the brand manager for Cacao Reserve by Hershey’s – Hershey Chocolate’s new line of high-end chocolate. Bierker teamed up with Bobby Stuckey, owner of Frasca restaurant in Boulder to host the seminar. A roomful of eager wine and chocolate lovers listened intently while sipping, snapping and nibbling. By a show of hands at the beginning of the presentation, it was easy to see that the room was divided into two camps – those that prefer dark, cacao heavy chocolate and those that prefer milk chocolate.

Stuckey was in charge of choosing a handful of wines from the 54 wineries represented at this years Taste of Vail event to pair with the chocolate. There are two key things he looks for in wine that’s going to be paired with chocolate.”The wine should be fruit driven and have some sweetness,” he said. Dryer, tannin heavy wines like cabernet and Bordeaux generally don’t pair as well with chocolate, Stuckey said.”What makes cabernet delicious is those dry tannins. But you make those tannins astringent with beautiful chocolate and you take the sweet nuances of the chocolate away and you’re kind of left with a negative.”

Both Stuckey and Bierker were relaxed when it came to pairing the five “chosen” wines with the six types of chocolate in front of participants, encouraging people to find new combinations. “The great thing about food and wine pairing is that everyone is always right,” Stuckey said.Bierker said she likes to taste chocolate from dark to milk.”Dark chocolate is more of a pure chocolate. Once you start getting into the milk and sugars and start adding things, that can change what you taste afterwards.”

By the end of the tasting people were switching sides when it came to their chocolate alliances. “I was always a milk chocolate person,” said one dark-haired woman. “Now I’m leaning towards the dark chocolate.”Maybe the adage holds true in cacao land – once you go black you never go back. Arts &Entertainment Writer Caramie Schnell can be reached at 748-2984 or

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