Chocolate & Wine Pairing Tips from James Beard House Chocolatier, Norman Love

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Ladies, back me up here: after a long day at work (or, just because you want to treat yourself), there is rarely anything more decadent and indulge-worthy than an exquisite piece of chocolate and an equally-robust wine. And when you find two that pair together perfectly? Well, that’s just… heaven.


Cue Norman Love: world-renowned pastry chef, award-winning chocolatier, Chef, President and Founder of Norman Love Confections, and the answer to every woman’s prayers. Coming from a career-long stint as an executive at some of the most recognizable names in hospitality — including 13 years as Corporate Executive Pastry Chef for The Ritz-Carlton Company and 3 years as Executive Pastry Chef of the Beverly Hills Hotel — and opening pastry kitchens in places like Bali, Egypt, Dubai and Barcelona, this culinary mastermind has since become a chocolate sensation.

And despite the fact that Norman has appeared on “Baking with Julia” and the Discovery Channel’s “Great Chefs,” was 1 of only 18 chefs chosen to make a birthday cake for the 150th Smithsonian Anniversary Celebration in Washington, D.C., will co-host a 6-course dinner at the prestigious James Beard House this fall, and today, is known for his delectable gourmet truffles and ultra-luxurious dark chocolate line, Norman Love Confections BLACK™ — which were recently included in Forbes’ list of the nation’s top 10 truffles — at his core, Norman is a down-to-earth chef whose only passion is to make people smile.

“Because, that’s the thing about chocolate,” Norman says. “No matter where I’ve visited in the world, chocolate desserts are always what everyone wants.”

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And with this passion, comes a desire to share the wealth (of wisdom). Visiting the Magic City just last week, this chocolate mastermind blessed us all with tips and tricks for perfect chocolate and wine pairings the next time you want to make your family and friends smile. See what the genius had to say, below:

  • To properly judge the pairing, follow three, simple steps. First, balance the PH of the mouth by taking a sip of the wine. After swallowing, take a small piece of chocolate and press it towards the roof of the mouth with your tongue, trying to melt the chocolate before swallowing. Finally, take another sip of the wine to elicit and marry the flavor profiles from both the chocolate and the wine.
  • Many times, it’s hard to determine the underlying flavors of chocolate. To “fake it until you make it,” pair a chocolate with a high percentage of cocoa mass (or “cocoa liquor”) with a big, bold red wine, like a Bordeaux. It will always impress your friends!
  • As a general rule of thumb, the higher the percentage of cacao (shoot for it having between 50% – 100%), the less sugar there will be. This yields a more intense, bittersweet chocolate; and it’s healthier.
  • You can never go wrong with a dry, Brut champagne and a fruity, flavored chocolate, like raspberry or strawberry.
  • Not sure what flavors particular chocolates or wines have? Check the label! It usually contains the key characteristics you know you should be looking for.
  • Venezuelan chocolates are great because they are fruity; their red fruit notes and high acid pair very nicely with an Italian Barolo wine.
  • For a fun exercise, choose three dark chocolates, each with a different percentage of cocoa (i.e., 65%, 70%, 75%) and marry them with the same, nice Cabernet. Aside from being able to eat more chocolate, this will also let you experience the changing characteristics, or taste profiles, in each chocolate as the percentages increase.

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Norman Love Confections was started in Fort Myers, and has since opened additional locations in Naples and Estero, FL. To see the full collection, or to purchase its products for yourself, visit the online catalog

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