Wednesday evening, I unwound after a hectic week of flying by taking in Wine & Chocolate Perfectly Paired hosted by Lisa Wilk, Orlando Uncorked, and Quantum Leap Winery’s very own, Jill Ramsier. Lisa took six of QLW’s best wines and paired them up with six incredible confection selections from Peterbrooke Chocolatier of Winter Park. In my further attempts to familiarize myself with the Orlando area and celebrate friends, I decided to throw down my wallet in the name of wine and chocolate!
One of my best gals, Meghan!
I credit Meghan for my wanting to attend this event. I enviously drooled all over my iPad while on call in Atlanta, as she diligently posted all kinds of chocolate-covered sin on IG while attending the Peterbrooke Chocolate Valentine’s Day Preview Event. When I later found out that there was a follow-up event, she was naturally the top choice to take with me. Tickets were $35 a piece, but such an event in close proximity to Valentine’s Day could easily have cost more. Without a doubt, the cost of the ticket was a worthwhile investment.
As soon as we checked in, we were directed to the marble, wrap-around bar, where Meghan introduced me to Lisa, the brain child behind Orlando Uncorked. We kicked off the event with our first pairing, a Rogue Valley Riesling (2011) and Chocolate Covered Popcorn. Unlike a traditional Riesling, QL’s version has a quarter of the sugar content, making it unexpectedly lighter. Pairing it with the buttery, salty divinity of popcorn, smothered in sweet, milk chocolate was a heavenly start to a decadent evening.
Taking our seats, the rest of the evening’s treats awaited us. The second pairing was a fruity Garda, a blend of four different varietals from northern Italy, and a juicy, White Chocolate Covered Strawberry. Chardonnay tends to be my go-to table white, but the Garda has quickly and easily dethroned it. Don’t even get me started about the strawberry.
As a child, I remember seeing the plump chocolate strawberries in the shop window of The Chocolate Soldier, in the small town where I grew up. In my mind, they were always a coveted prize of Valentine’s Day, far too gorgeous for a little girl to dream about. Even now, I’ve only ever had strawberries in fondue, and not in recent history. Without a doubt Peterbrooke realized that little girl’s dream with that single white chocolate strawberry. I’m glad their shop in Winter Park is a solid hour’s drive away from my house, or I’d be like the Compte de Reynaud passed out in Vienne’s shop window on Easter a la Chocolat.
The couple adjacent to us got a great laugh when Lisa informed us that the strawberry could be enjoyed one of two ways: “you can either pop it in your mouth, or be a lady about it.” My filter was apparently off as I nonchalantly remarked, “isn’t popping the whole thing in your mouth being a lady about it?” This was followed by what I call my “dirty, old man” chuckle and what Meghan has dubbed my “toothy, Julia Roberts’ grin.” The evening is educational and fun already, and we’re just getting started.
A delicious Gorgo Custoza and some old-fashioned milk chocolate covered nut brittle finished the whites as the final pairing. The Custoza was my hands down favorite of the whites. It had great dimension, and an intense smoothness, and I’m bringing a bottle of this home for my Valentine! Nut Brittle has always been one of my favorite chocolate treats, but I’ve never had the pleasure of enjoying such a decadent version. Again, my thighs are quire thankful that I was allotted a small piece with second helping in sight because I would have slipped into a blissful sugar coma. I better start slinging more peanuts, so I can invest in chocolate!
The top batter for the reds was Kaley’s Rescue Red & Chocolate Covered Bacon. KRR’s namesake belongs to the winery’s own rescue pooch, Kaley, who’s tail wagging benefits a great cause, The SPCA of Central Florida. I love bacon. I love chocolate mixed with a secondary item, but the prospect of coating one with the other had me perplexed. Then I had a nibble, and another, and another, until I nearly finished without taking another sip of the wine! Wow! The light mix of reds for KRR goes down easy, so I’ll need to be careful when I bring home a bottle!
Going deeper and deeper, we moved onto pairing number two with Rogue Valley’s Pinot Noir & Sea Salt Dark Chocolate. I truly adore combination of sea salt and dark chocolate, but Peterbrooke’s version would put me into the ground and I’d go happily. It was outstanding and despite my love-hate relationship with PN’s (I love PN, but my body always hates me the next morning), QL’s Pinot rocked me gently along. It was great!
Closing out the evening was the ultimate one-two punch with the Chalk Hill Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve & Ultimate Chocolate Truffle. Any words I use to attempt to describe this final pairing, simply won’t do it any justice. The rich, dark maroon barely let the light in, but it was gloriously radiant. Unbelievably dreamy would best describe it. Though I have a penchant for whites over reds, I’m banking that I’ve simply been drinking the wrong reds all together. As luck would have it, Meghan has a preference for whites, so I was responsible for saving her servings from alcohol abuse. 😉 She was the Designated Driver, making me the Designated “Dump Bucket”. The accompanying Ultimate Chocolate Truffle knocked my socks off. Savoring it was tricky because it melted on the tongue, leaving me spent, but wanting more. Pretty, pretty please! Don’t make me beg for it.
One of the things that really stood out about QL, beside their amazingly inviting hosting space, was their commitment to a quality product with a small carbon foot print and sustainability. Their marriage of diverse, quality product with environmentally responsible production brings forth an incredible business that deserves showcasing. Also, I love they have wine on tap in their bar! I’m campaigning for a wine tap at my house!
Wine & Chocolate Perfectly Paired – Second Edition is scheduled for Wednesday, March 12 at Quantum Leap Winery starting at 7PM. Can’t wait until Wednesday, February 19, when my schedule is released because if I’m not flying, I will be kicking back a front row seat for the next round. Learning from Lisa & Jill is fun, and I would love to soak up as much as possible. If you have to opportunity to attend one of their events, by all means do it. You won’t be disappointed.