Disclosure: I received free products and compensation for this post. All opinions are my own (or those of my guests, where noted!).
I’m back from maternity leave, and what better way to celebrate than with a party? Lindt contacted me a month ago about hosting a chocolate and wine pairing party featuring some of their Lindt EXCELLENCE chocolates and wines from J. Lohr. At the time, I was weeks away from giving birth, which meant that I hadn’t had a glass of wine since November. And I’m always on board for chocolate, especially some expertly crafted fancy chocolate like what Lindt has to offer. I also used the party as an excuse for my friends to meet and fawn over my newborn son (he’s a month old now!)
Maybe you’ve seen Lindt’s ads with a chocolatier in a toque staring at possibly the coolest whisk ever that is dripping with chocolate. That guy means business. Lindt makes amazing truffles, but what’s really impressive are the EXCELLENCE bars. There are a whole slew of flavors made with the best dark chocolate and other top-notch ingredients. Lindt combines them to make super thin chocolate bars with the perfect snap and sheen. Have you ever tried tempering chocolate? It’s no joke. Breaking off a square of one of these chocolate bars makes me wonder if Lindt has magical fairies in their kitchens. But really, it’s just Swiss chocolate masters doing what they do best.
I normally only get Lindt chocolate in my stocking at Christmastime, because I like to let other people spoil me. So I last had Lindt chocolate several months ago, when my husband slipped the Dark Coconut EXCELLENCE bar into my stocking… and then proceeded to eat half of it himself. Hrmph. So when my shipment of Lindt chocolate for the party showed up on my doorstep, it was like Christmas in July! I was going to selfishly hoard all the chocolate for myself, but I let Phillip break into the stash before the party. A stream of blissful obscenities escaped him as he bit into the “Touch of Sea Salt” variety. I couldn’t wait to see what my friends’ favorites would be!
For my party, I tried to invite my friends with the most refined palates (plus my sister, Nina, who has the palate of a raccoon). So I got my book club girls together, because they know food. Every month, we pick a great local brunch spot, so I knew they would have some insightful feedback on the wine and chocolate pairings. I set up my table to match the chocolates with the wines that Lindt suggested (and threw in some cheese pairings for good measure).
The Chili + Syrah pairing was the clear favorite (Amanda said it was like “spicy raisins… in a good way”), but a close runner-up was the Pineapple + Chardonnay pairing. Alicia mirrored my own thoughts, saying that she wasn’t sure that pineapple and dark chocolate would go together, but she actually found it intriguing. Of all the pairings, I felt that the experience of the Pineapple chocolate was actually elevated by taking a sip of the Chardonnay alongside the chocolate. I was surprised to see hazelnuts among the ingredients in the Pineapple chocolate. Again, I would never think to put those two ingredients together, but Lindt clearly knows what’s up. But sorry, you’ll have to wait for this flavor. The Pineapple chocolate is the newest addition to the EXCELLENCE line and won’t be hitting shelves until October.
Of course, the other pairings were fantastic. You have the classic 70% Cocoa with the Cabernet Sauvignon. I’d recommend this as an introductory chocolate and wine pairing because it’s not too adventurous, but is really smooth and creamy. The Sea Salt chocolate goes with the Pinot Noir, and the combo is really earthy. I would actually like to unwind with this combo at the end of a long day, because I found it strangely comforting. If it were cold enough, I’d like to snuggle up with it in front of a crackling fire. And I would finish this flight of chocolates with the Intense Orange + Riesling pairing, because it’s the sweetest. If there can be a dessert for your dessert, this is it!
Beyond the chocolate, it was so nice after a month of adjusting to motherhood to sit down with friends, relax with some excellent gourmet food, and talk about things unrelated to diaper rash and bottle warmers. Of course, there was a fair amount of baby talk, considering my little dude and my friend Dani’s baby (just a few weeks older) couldn’t stop being adorable for five seconds and everyone wanted to squeeze them! A word to the wise: after 9 months of pregnancy-enforced sobriety, a couple glasses of wine is a big deal. I may have had to excuse myself upstairs under the guise of using the restroom, but I really sprawled out on my bed for a few minutes to compose myself.
If you want to host your own chocolate and wine pairing party (which I highly recommend!), here are the pairings again:
Lindt EXCELLENCE Pineapple + J. Lohr Estates Riverstone Chardonnay
Lindt EXCELLENCE Intense Orange + J. Lohr Estates Bay Mist White Riesling
Lindt EXCELLENCE Sea Salt + J. Lohr Estates Falcon’s Perch Pinot Noir
Lindt EXCELLENCE Chili + J. Lohr Estates South Ridge Syrah
Lindt EXCELLENCE 70% Cocoa + J. Lohr Estates Seven Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon
Want to win a gift box of Lindt EXCELLENCE chocolate (valued at $45)? Enter the giveaway below! All of the above flavors (except the Pineapple chocolate) are included in the box, plus there are a few more flavors, including Caramel with a Touch of Sea Salt, Dark Coconut, and Lemon.