A few weeks ago I took a trip to London on my own to attend a very exciting event with Lily O’Brien’s chocolate and popular wine critic Jilly Goolden.
The event was a wine matching masterclass in which Jilly talked us through pairings she had made with luxury, premium Lily O’Brien chocolates and a selection of wines and cocktails.
The event was held at the Bluefin Building in London with beautiful views over the London skyline including the Shard. It was a beautiful place for the event and the whole room was decorated beautifully. I think it was pretty much me in a room full of food writers and critics, and I sat next to a lovely lady called Jane who works with Jilly.
The art of pairing alcohol with chocolate has been a long debated issue, and it is notoriously tricky to match up sweet treats with interesting wines. So Lily O’Brien’s tasked Jilly with matching up their most famous chocolates and truffles with wines that are available in UK supermarkets where Lily O’Brien’s chocolates are stocked. The chocolates are taken from two of Lily O’Brien’s lines – its recently launched range of premium bars, and its Ultimate Chocolate Collection.
Jilly, alongside Mary O’Brien the founder of Lily O’Briens chocolates talked through the different flavours and the pairings. You could tell how passionate they both are about what they do, and it was lovely to see. Jilly was really interesting to listen to and I learnt quite a bit! I tried alcohol that I had never tried before and I really loved some of them with the different chocolates. I also found a few favourites from Lily O’Brien’s – I really love the Malted Chocolate Crunch bar, and the Death by Chocolate from the Ultimate Collection. I felt rather sick by the time it was time to go home, but it was worth it!
Chocolate and Wine Matching!
I thought I would share some of the lovely pairings that Jilly chose, in case you’d like to try them or serve them to your guests over Christmas! As suggested by Jilly and Mary – some of the pairings taste like an really lovely dessert when paired together – so would be a really nice little treat if you are already full!
- Orange and Bergamot Ganache, Dark Chocolate Bar – paired with – Torres Floralis Moscatel Oro. The aromatic, sweet wine with vivid orange notes makes it a perfect partner to match with the zesty orange flavours of the ganache.
- Malted Chocolate Crunch, Milk Chocolate Bar – paired with – Beaumes de Venise Carte Or. The wine’s citrus acidity suggests exotic tropical flavours when paired with this malty sweet chocolate.
- Ultimate Collection’s Death by Chocolate – paired with – Kir. Tesco Finest Creme de Cassis and Laurent Miquel Nocturnes Viognier. Kir is dry white wine with a dash of Creme de Cassis de Dijon, an aromatic dark blackcurrant liqueur, which sits perfectly with this rich dark chocolate.
- Salted Caramel, Milk Chocolate Bar – paired with – Hidalgo La Gitana Manzanilla Sherry. The Sherry has an inkling of a salty note and the scent is yeasty – when combined with the Salted Caramel you get sweet and tart, through the salty note. (I didn’t expect to like this as I am not a fan of sherry – but I really did like them together!)
- Ultimate Collection’s Caramel Macchiato – paired with – 12-year-old Pedro Ximinez Sherry. This is a ‘pudding wine’ made from very sweet, rich, dark sun-dried grapes and has a scent of coffee liqueur with sticky toffee and prune flavours, so when paired with the chocolate there is an explosion of coffee flavours and a suggestion of fruit cake.
- Ultimate Collection’s Lemon Meringue Pie – paired with – Luxado Limncello Liqueur topped up with San Pellegrino Limonata. This cocktail gives a really refreshing edge to the combination of lemons and chocolate. (This was surprisingly lovely, and the Limoncello with the San Pellegrino was SO nice – I’ll definitely be drinking it again.)
- Peppermint Crunch with a twist of Basil, Dark Chocolate Bar – paired with – Tia Espresso Ice Cocktail (Equal quantities of Tia Maria, chilled espresso coffee and milk). Perfect as an ‘after-dinner’ cocktail, the coffee notes combine with the peppermint and basil combination. (This was particularly recommended as an effortless dessert course – serve the cocktail in an espresso cup with the chocolate on the side! This isn’t my favourite chocolate, but it tasted really nice with the cocktail.)
I had a lovely time at the event and have been eating far too much Lily O’Briens chocolate ever since!
Lily O’Brien’s chocolates are available in major supermarkets and retail outlets, and online at LilyO’Briens.co.uk.
I was invited to the event by Lily O’Briens, but all words and opinions are my own.