As one of East London’s best known food and wine gurus, Charles Poole, knows a thing or two about what makes taste buds tingle.
On Saturday he will demonstrate how to pair the ultimate decadent delights – wine and chocolate.
Poole, who owned the award-winning Smokey Swallows Restaurant for 10 years until 2010 and now owns La Cuisinette in Beacon Bay, will present the delicious pairing session as part of East London’s exciting inaugural Arts Festival which opens at the Guild Theatre on Friday.
“I started doing wine and chocolate pairings in 2008, but there is much more interest now.
“I do it about twice a month at my restaurant as well as at private functions. It’s popular at lifestyle wine farms in Cape Town,” said Poole.
“I used to do cheese-and-wine pairings too, but very few speak of cheese and wine now. Cheese actually coats your palate and I don’t really like it [with wine].”
Poole said the secret of successful wine and chocolate pairing was to ensure each element was as sweet as the other.
“If one is sweeter it will overpower the other, so balance is very important.”
On Saturday afternoon he will pair four Lanzerac wine estate wines to four artisanal chocolates made especially to complement the wines.
“Light, creamy chocolates go best with light-bodied wines like merlot, while strong, darker chocolates complement full-bodied wines like cabernet sauvignon.
“For example, people will get a white lemon and lime chocolate with the chardonnay and dark cherry chocolate with the pinotage.”
Wine and chocolate lovers will spend the session tuning into their taste buds with the help of Poole’s broad and carefully honed sommelier experience.
“Each person will get a piece of chocolate which they will bite before they smell the wine, because 80% of taste is in the smell.
“They will then sip the wine and take another bite of chocolate.
“I will tell people what they should be tasting or smelling, but what I say is not gospel; taste is subjective.”
Speaking in his well-stocked Vincent wine cellar-cum-office, Poole also has a humming leather belt and handbag factory.
“I make belts and handbags during the day and at night I drink wine.”
He said East London residents were becoming increasingly knowledgeable about wine.
“There are lots of wine clubs here and pairing wine with chocolate has given them new life.”
Those attending his interactive presentation this weekend will have an opportunity to place orders for the wines and chocolates they experience.
lLimited tickets for the chocolate and wine pairing are available at a cost of R80 through Computicket or at the Guild. The show begins at 3.30pm on Saturday.