The grape vine and the cocoa bean!. A match made in heaven

The Wine Ladies discuss the long complex relationship between the grape vine and the cocoa bean.

Georgia and I hired a personal trainer a few weeks ago who has been whipping us both into shape for our special TV debut scheduled for Jan 2009. Anthony, our new trainer says “it’s not only about the exercise but the food too”. So for the time being in anticipation of us being camera ready we are off the carbohydrates, cheese, wine and chocolate “I’m ready for my close up Mr. Demille!”

Sheesh! Chocolate and wine, two of life’s greatest pleasures are off limits despite the fact that both are loaded with antioxidants and are actually good for you in moderation and should be part of your daily diet. We are going to have to have a word with our trainer.

Joining us this past weekend on the radio show (November 29th, 2008) was Chocolate Connoisseur Peter Blanchet, of the fabulous Canadian company Purdy’s Chocolates. With the holidays around the corner we thought that we would explore one of the latest trends, the pairing of wine and chocolate. We also had a look at some of the similarities between the grape vine and the cocoa bean, the health benefits and had a look at some of the wonderful Purdy’s Chocolate gift ideas for the upcoming holidays.

Below: Chocolate Connoisseur Peter Blanchet

Peter explained that, “we shouldn’t feel guilty about indulging in chocolate as there are definite health benefits.” A Cornel University study indicated that chocolate can help prevent cancer and heart disease and that cocoa has nearly twice the antioxidants of red wine and three times of that found in green tea. A perfect trio- a cup of green tea in the morning, an afternoon chocolate delight and a glass of red wine for the evening. Just what the Doctor ordered.

After a big holiday meal who needs Cheesecake or Apple pie? How about a beautiful piece of chocolate and a glass of wine!. A winning combination. More and more people are starting to enjoy these two sensational things together.

Here are a couple of suggestions and rules to maximizing the experience. Firstly, the objective is to create harmony with the two and not have one or the other lost in the combination. Many people believe that one should select a wine that is sweeter or just as sweet as the chocolate for the best chance of a wonderful partnership, but not everyone. Perhaps a Zinfandel or a Shiraz or even a Cabernet Sauvignon is the ultimate with dark chocolate? A Tawny Port with flavours of caramel, anise/licorice, fennel and raisin would be beautiful with milk chocolate, bittersweet and chocolate with nuts. Let your taste buds provide the road map to your ultimate experience. It’s a matter of personal taste.

What better hostess gift for the Holiday parties than a beautifully wrapped box of Purdy’s Chocolates and a bottle or two of VQA wine outfitted in a limited edition Canadian Maple Holiday Gift Box. The Gift Box is available as part of a holiday gift pack for just $3.95 with the purchase of any two VQA wines at select LCBO stores.

Below: Canadian Maple Holiday Gift Box

Hillary Dawson of The Wine Council of Ontario called into the show and offered this great gift idea. Instead of searching for hours in busy malls for the perfect gift, save yourself time and stress by heading down to your neighbourhood LCBO store; they offer over 200 VQA wines to mix and match for the holiday season. Choosing only two wines becomes the hardest part. Rich and hearty Niagara Region reds perfect for the steak lover in your life or pair crisp Pelee Island or Prince Edward County for a seafood inspired holiday party menu – especially those from the extraordinary 2007 vintage or go all out with a combination of Icewines or sparking wines to impress.

Every bottle of Ontario wine purchased by Ontario residents supports economic growth and jobs for Ontarians. It has never been so easy to do your part this holiday season to promote VQA wines; and know that you are supporting local economies in our province at the same time. A recent study conducted by KPMG confirmed that for every litre of Ontario wine sold, there was a net benefit to the economy of $8.48 compared to an impact of 67 cents for imports.

About The Wine Council of Ontario
The Wine Council of Ontario (WCO) is a non-profit trade association with a leadership role in marketing and establishing policy and future directions for the wine industry in Ontario. It acts as a liaison and coordinating body between Ontario wineries, grape growers, and government groups.

Membership in the WCO is open to all commercial producers of wine in Ontario, with the criteria that a member must be an Ontario resident and the winery must be located in the province. The Wine Council represents 84 winery properties in Ontario. To learn more about the Canadian Maple Holiday Gift Box, log on to The Wine Council’s website.

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