In the Beatles’ song “Come Together,” John Lennon famously said “One and one and one is three.” In wine and food pairings, the equation is a bit different and the objective is to have the sum greater than the parts. Food enhances wine and wine enhances food. So, if John was talking about wine and food instead of “mojo filters” and “joo joo eyeballs” his sum hopefully would have been higher than three. Many wineries are now recognizing this logarithm and are not only serving snacks to be eaten while tasting wine, but are doing full blown wine and food pairings. At Silver Thread Vineyard, on Seneca Lake in the Finger Lakes, in addition to a Riesling and cheese pairing, they also do a wine and chocolate tasting. Last year I did the Riesling Experience, where four single-vineyard Rieslings were matched with appropriate local cheeses, so on my latest visit I decided to try the wine & chocolate pairing.
First a few words about Silver Thread: The vineyard was established in 1982 on the eastern shore of Seneca Lake. In 2011, The winery was purchased from the original owners by winemaker Paul Brock and wine educator Shannon Brock (former wine director of the New York Wine and Culinary Center). Since then they have crafted a portfolio of high-quality wines. The winery is named for a local waterfall, Silver Thread Falls. The turtle image on their labels is copied from a Native American carving found on a nearby rock and is a reminder that we should “care for the land and water that give us the gift of wine,” as explained in their website.
The chocolates are from Hedonist Artisan Chocolates, which was founded in 2007 in Rochester, New York. Many of the chocolates served are custom flavors developed specifically for Silver Thread. Hedonist chocolates are made from fresh, natural ingredients, with each piece of chocolate rolled, cut and dipped by hand. Jennifer Posey, the owner and chocolatier of Hedonist Chocolates, asked Shannon which of your wines do you wish would sell better and promised that her chocolates would help sell the wine. While they consider that their Chardonnay and Gewürztraminer are both excellent wines, for various reasons they are often overlooked. So, Shannon decided to include these wines. And because their Dry Riesling and Blackbird (a mostly Cab Franc Bordeaux blend) are not only their best-selling wines, but are very adaptable wines and go well with a broad range of food, they were also included. Silver Thread sent these wines up to Jennifer. She came up with some recommendations and sent these chocolates down to Paul and Shannon, who decided on the four pairings they wanted to serve.
As for the pairings: Chardonnay was matched with an Almond Toffee Milk chocolate; Dry Riesling with Seneca Rosemary Salt Cranberry Walnut Dark Chocolate; Gewürztraminer with Coconut Curry White Chocolate and Blackbird with Cranberry Espresso Bittersweet Chocolate (which was my personal favorite.) While I did some cross-pollinating and sampled each chocolate with each of the wines, the pairings chosen by Shannon, Paul and Jennifer were the best. It was a fantastic experience. And while the chocolates and wines were delicious on their own, the pairings were spot on and elevated the taste to a new level. This was a great example of the advanced mathematics of food pairings and how the parts “come together” to form a greater whole.