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People often like to talk about the dream couples among the celebrities in the glittering world. They have to be famous and radiantly beautiful. They have usually found each other in the spotlight that constantly accompanies celebrities from the worlds of film, sport, fashion, art, theatre, television and, and, and.... A superstar dating a superstar: if that's not enough for a heart-wrenching love story. But then so often and so quickly the end. A break-up after a few months, if things go well, after a few years. "They've grown apart, gone their own ways," the people magazines report. When the chips are down, a war of the roses begins: who cheated on whom, who benefits how much from a broken relationship?

When it comes to pleasure, too, there are obviously dream couples. One of them: wine and chocolate, or chocolate and wine. "In combination with chocolate, wine becomes a sensually stimulating experience", headlines a consumer magazine. It may well be "an experience", but it is far from being a wedding or even a long-lasting, well-functioning marriage.

How heart finds heart (Photo: P. Züllig)

I think the unusual liaison is more of an "illicit love affair", an unconventional attempt to see if partners of such a completely different nature can find and love each other. I'm really sceptical about that. Feelings are not so easy to direct, prejudices are difficult to overcome, predictions remain speculative as to when and where heart will find heart. It is true that I have found the famous "chocolate aromas" in many wines. Bitter chocolate is the most common association, the sweetness of it always faded away. It is the cocoa aroma that sets the tone. But cocoa is not yet chocolate, it is bitter and does not taste sweet at all. Chocolate is only made by combining cocoa with sugar, milk and cream. The famous Swiss chocolate demonstrates this: It is a new artificial product that has entered the glittering world of indulgence. Must, can or should wine simply stand aside? Couldn't a marriage lead to a dream wedding?

Boekenhoutskloof (South Africa)% where the "Chocolate Block" is made (Photo: P. Züllig)

The Chocolate Block (Photo: P. Züllig)
I first thought about this - years ago - in Franschhoek on the Boekenhoutskloof wine estate (South Africa). Not only does the name and the advertising flirt with chocolate, there is even a direct reference to the very different bringer of pleasure, in the trendy wine "The Chocolate Block": "Aromatic concentration, chocolate notes, very spicy, fruity, warm, creamy... elegant and mouth-filling... an assemblage of Syrah, Grenache Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsault and Viognier." At the time, I could not imagine that this - independent of this particular cuvée - could lead to a taste experience, indeed to a trend and ultimately to a "dream pairing". In the meantime, however, chocolate has refined itself further, varied, become more refined, more diverse - from sweet to bitter (almost without sugar), from milky to cocoa-like, from white to almost black. The wine has also refined and improved. The choice of grape varieties, the changed work in the vineyard and in the cellar, the technology have brought us new wines with new flavours. It stands to reason that the two, chocolate and wine, had to meet somewhere, sometime in the world of pleasure. Christoph Raffelt writes in his blog on the subject: "It always depends on the cocoa content of the chocolate... Milk chocolate, for example, has a cocoa content of 30 to 45 per cent, the rest is cocoa butter, sugar, milk or cream. It makes sense to combine such chocolate with a white wine. Especially if the proportion of cream is quite high, a sweet white wine like a Kabinett or a sweet Spätlese goes well with it."

But the taste experts still seem to be arguing. Another blog almost categorically advises me against drinking sweet wines with milk chocolate, saying they are much more suitable for white chocolate.

Wine specialist Chandra Kurt recommends tasting with relish: "Accept failure and be all the more happy about success! While years ago it was still daring to even think about the combination, it has developed into something of a fashion trend as a happening before or during an occasion such as a birthday party, company anniversary or social evening. In very serious cases, there are even seminars for this, teaching what works and what doesn't, and what can finally take us to the longed-for extraordinary (unique?) worlds of pleasure.

Searching for the great love also in pleasure (Photo: Marcello Weiss)

I confess: I am still looking for these extraordinary worlds of pleasure - in the marriage of wine and chocolate. Perhaps I should be more open to experimentation or even attend one of these fashionable seminars. But when I imagine pairing my beloved Bordeaux with milk chocolate (best quality from the best Swiss confectionery), or giving my favourite dark chocolate with almonds a Pinot Noir to accompany it, I feel cold horror. Food pairing has limits for me, flavour trees are a gimmick based on technology and (pseudo) science on the way to ultimate happiness in enjoyment. I have resigned myself to the fact that I will probably never find this pleasure happiness.

Dream buying world of chocolate indulgence (Photo: P. Züllig)

I still much prefer to drink a glass of well-made wine - which triggers emotions in me - with pleasure, just to enjoy it and - if I feel like it - to I prefer to drink a glass of well-made wine - which triggers emotions in me - with pleasure, to enjoy it and - if I feel like it - to get to grips with it, to perceive the subtleties, to savour the feelings that accompany it and to trust that another wine - just as well made - will bring similar or even greater pleasure. I feel similarly about chocolate. I'm less experienced or even trained there, I simply trust my sense of taste - as I do with wine. And that - for me - is ultimately the only decisive factor, because I don't market chocolate or wine, and I'm not tempted to develop new creations or create dream pairings. A fine wine and a fine chocolate is enough for me. I can do without the dream couple - it is rather a product of the glittering world. And there is no need for a couple therapist to interpret a painful separation, should the two protagonists one day - which is foreseeable - "go their own ways" again.


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