What dessert wine with chocolate mousse?

Several weeks ago, we had a great dinner with two other couples.  We started with salmon mousse tarts and a choice of a Hunter Valley Semillon or a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.  Even though we knew it was going to be a scorcher of a day, everyone wanted DAZ in the Kitchen’s famous beef stroganoff which we paired with a 2009 Bouchard Pere & Fils Pulingy-Montrachet.  We wanted to have creme brulee for dessert, but did not have a torch available, so decided to go with chocolate mousse instead.  (The recipe for all courses is provided in the obvious links.)

I had a number of good sticky dessert wines, including some very nice Sauternes to go with creme brulee, but was uncertain as to what dessert wine would work well with chocolate mousse.  After some internal debate including considering Port or Muscat, I felt a peppery Hunter Valley Shiraz could work, so put aside a 2007 Tyrrell’s Stevens Shiraz.  This is a typical high-end Hunter Valley Shiraz from a great vintage.  However, through the generosity of our guests and them offering to help determine what dessert wine to drink with chocolate mousse, we had a bottle of Ivanhoe Madeira and Audrey Wilkinson Muscat to choose from.  I also had a bottle of 1993 Lindeman’s Porphyry leftover from the evening before (notice the small cork bits in the bottle from the shattered 20-year-old cork).  So we decided to try all three dessert wines and the main lesson learned is that sweet wine and sweet food match quite well, regardless of other characteristics involved!  All three wines provided unique, but pleasurable drinking experiences while eating chocolate mousse.

Three dessert wines to go with chocolate mousseThe Porphyry was sweet, almost too sugary due to its age and worked better as a dessert wine with the apple tart we had the night before.  Yet, it provided a viscous mouthfeel that felt good with chocolate mousse and set off well the strawberries adorning the chocolate mousse.  The Madeira was sweeter yet, but sharper in taste and complimented, almost competed with the chocolate mousse.  The Muscat (which was one of my original alternatives to consider as the dessert wine) probably worked the best as it less sweet, containing caramelized orange flavors to compliment the chocolate flavors of the mousse.

But the key lesson learned was that almost any dessert wine worked!  Looking back, I wish I would have also pulled out a few different Ports wines as I think they could have worked as well as the Muscat or even better.

What wines have you served with chocolate mousse?  Let me know if you have any good suggestions.


Steve Shipley, author Wine Sense, out early 2014. Published by InkIT Publishing
© 2014.  Steve Shipley.  All rights reserved.
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Making red wine ice cream

Vintec, the wine storage company, displayed this recipe on Facebook and I thought I would share it since I took the time to translate the recipe from Spanish to English (OK, Google Translator helped a little bit!).  I was going to write another post on why you need to build a cellar, but that will wait another day now.  I have two Vintec wine storage lockers and they are great.  But again that will be the focus of another post.  For now, I am going to explore making red wine ice cream.  I have not tried this yet, but will give it a go next weekend when we are in the Hunter Valley for a long weekend and let you know the results.  If any of you try it before I do, please write to tell me how it turned out.

Red wine ice cream.The recipe calls for:

  • A bottle of red wine
  • 150g sugar
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 250ml cream
  • 300ml whole milk
  • cinnamon stick

This is not actually a recipe so much as just an ingredient list!  I am sure you could substitute a half-teaspoon cinnamon powder for the stick.  And if you want to make it a bit creamier and smoother texture, use six egg yolks instead of only four.  Then just whip it up in a blender and put into a container to freeze.  I am guessing a more elegant, finer red wine works better than heavier, coarser red wine.  I would use a Pinot Noir or a Zinfandel.  And a full bottle seems to be quite a bit, so you may want to use half a bottle first, then taste, and determine if you need to add more.

Based on the quality of the wine, this could be a pretty expensive dessert.  But it does look delicious and we will give it a try!  Once I know more and can recommend more, I will write an update about our experience making it and how it tasted.  Please let me know if you try it first!


Steve Shipley, author Wine Sense, out early 2014. Published by InkIT Publishing
© 2013.  Steve Shipley
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Twitter:  Steve Shipley @shipleyaust;   InkIT Publishing @inkitpub

Wonderful wine gift of Inniskillin from in-laws

I suppose now that I have you reading this blog post, I could tell you the wine gift my in-laws provided was their daughter, my lovely bride, DAZ in the Kitchen, who shares in good food and wine with me.  And I do thank them every day for that gift, one which you can not put a price on (even though my father-in-law tried to during his speech at our wedding.  Something about transferring a liability from his balance sheet to mine!).

No, I am referring to a beautiful half bottle of 2002 Inniskillin Vidal VQA Ice wine from Canada.  This is a real gift.  Embarrassingly, I left it sit on the counter for six weeks before even looking at it.  I assumed it was just another dessert wine and I had a few already in the fridge and the Vintec, so I figured in due time I would get around to storing it.  There was no ceremony or exclamation of bringing me such a nice gift.  The in-laws were back from a long time overseas and we had not seen them for a while, so had them and my wife’s brother and his wife over for dinner.

The in-laws came in, we shook hands and hugged, took their coats and then my mother-in-law says, “Oh yeah, here’s a bottle of ice wine.”  I said, “Thanks,” and we left it at that and proceeded to talk about things and then sat down to dinner.  No explanation of why they decided to pick that bottle to give me or what a special bottle it is.  (I wonder if they knew?)  Therefore, I thought nothing of it and laid it down on the counter.  I figured it was a current vintage and had a screw top, but fortunately, I laid it down horizontally as a matter of course.  And a good thing I did, as it was neither a current vintage or under screw top:  It was a 2002 vintage under cork.

This morning I decided to finally do something with the bottle and that was the first time I looked at it since they gave it to me.  It was then I noticed it was a 2002 vintage and that surprised me.  I then looked at the alcoholic content (10% which is nice for a dessert wine and a good way to finish off an evening) and was high in residual sugar so I know it is going to be a sweet dessert wine.  I kept looking for the grape used wondering if it was Semillon or Riesling.  Even though the word Vidal was prominently displayed on the bottle and box, I though that was some sort of brand name, not a grape name.  However, Vidal is the name of the grape used.

Some study provided me with background on the Vidal grape.  It is a hybrid grape (Trebbiano and Rayon d’Or) with a very thick skin.  It was originally intended to be used for production of Eastern Canadian brandy.  However, it proved worthy of being used to make great Ice wine.  The grape is now grown in Eastern Canada, upper state New York around Niagara Falls, and in selected locations in the US Midwest region.

Further study showed me that this wine is difficult to source in Australia, and I can only assume my in-laws got it when in London or some other major metropolitan city around the globe.  It is an expensive bottle of wine.  The 1992 vintage is one of the very best.  I greatly look forward to drinking this bottle in the right setting and context.  This wine matches up well with several cheeses and with a pear tart or dessert with caramel sauce – I like the sound of that!  I might bring it along for one of our spectacular lunches at Bistro Molines in the Hunter Valley.  Robert (Molines) does great things with caramel and I could call ahead and ask him to make a special dessert for us.

I am gob-smacked that they gave me such a unique and special bottle of wine.  I have no idea about where they got it and why they decided to give it to me (but will now find out), but I am thankful and greatly anticipating drinking this special bottle.  I can only hope it lives up to my anticipation, but from everything I have read, it should!  Thank you, in-laws!


Steve Shipley, author Wine Sense, out early 2014. Published by InkIT Publishing
© 2013.  Steve Shipley
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Twitter:  Steve Shipley @shipleyaust;   InkIT Publishing @inkitpub

The wines of my 60th birthday were fine indeed!

It was quite a birthday weekend overall, with guests flying in from the US and Melbourne to join those of us already based in Sydney.  We started with a Friday evening pre-birthday dinner celebration at Fish at the Rocks (with our out-of-town visitors) with some great wines, including:

  • 1992 Waverley Estate Semillon;
  • 2007 La Belle Voisine Chassange Montrachet;
  • 1996 Lindemans St George; and
  • 2005 Chateau Haut Beregon Sauternes

This on its own was a great line-up!  Then on Saturday, I tasted three wines while being a guest on Food in Focus with Natascha Moy.  By the time I returned from the show, I had a bit of a buzz having consumed almost 750 ml by myself (one needs to make sure they are voicing the right opinions when one is serving the public like I was that day)!

By the time I arrived home, Jay Huxley, Masterchef, had arrived and was preparing dinner, and what a dinner it turned out to be.  A number of our guests (including most who had attended Deanna’s 40th birthday several years ago) thought it was the finest meal they had ever had!  They felt that the wine drinking for Deanna’s 40th was the best wine drinking experience they ever had and it came with a great meal, but my 60th was the reverse – the best meal they ever had with a great line-up of wine.

It was my intent to make my 60th birthday the second best wine tasting meal I ever had, but I admittedly fell short.  There were two main reasons for this.  The first that being my 60th birthday, it was really tough to get birth year wines (1952) that were truly outstanding compared to Deanna’s 40th which had a birth year of 1971 when we had:

  • 1971 Lindemans Limestone Ridge;
  • 1971 Penfolds Grange; and
  • 1971 Chateau D’Yquem

each bottle easily being in the Top 10 bottles I have ever drank!  But the most important reason was that Jay had developed such an awesome menu that it was actually difficult to match the very best wines with the food!  For Deanna’s 40th birthday dinner, I presented the nine wines I wanted to drink to the chef and he did a magnificent job matching the food to the wine.  But for my 60th birthday, I let Jay have total freedom and while he created a killer food line-up, it was difficult to match great wines to every course.

I had been working for a couple of months to pick a line-up of great wines for my 60th birthday, including thinking it was time to have our last bottle of the 1981 Penfolds Grange, and do that just after the 1991 Grant Burge Mesach (given to me for my 59th birthday BTW!) and the 1992 Henschke Hill of Grace.  My original line-up of wines for my 60th, included:

  • 1998 Pommeray Louis Champange
  • 1990 Waverley Estate Semillon
  • 2001 Grosset Polish Hill Riesling
  • 2007 La Belle Voisine Chassagne Montrachet
  • 2005 Chateau Brane-Cantenac
  • 1991 Grant Burge Mesach
  • 1992 Henschke Hill of Grace
  • 1981 Penfolds Grange
  • 1997 Chateau D’Yquem
  • 1967 Lindemans Vintage Port

However, once I saw Jay’s menu, I knew I needed to back off the big reds (especially the Shiraz) and I also ‘downgraded’ some of my choices, including moving from the 1990 Waverley Estates Semillon to the 1992 Waverley Estate Semillon (which we had the night before at Fish at the Rocks), and I also decided to drink the 1980 Lindemans Vintage Port instead of the 1967.  I only have two bottles of the 1990 Waverley Estate Semillon left and I needed a good bottle and a back-up bottle to share with my wife’s boss who I greatly admire and who is a Semillon fanatic, and I wanted to sip the 1967 Lindemans Vintage Port over several months instead of ‘gulping’ it down at the end of a boozy meal, which I have mistakenly done with some iconic Ports previously.

But the key thing about Jay’s menu is that it demanded more whites than reds and the reds had to be more refined than the big Shiraz’ that I had nominated for the evening.  Therefore, I eliminated the:

  • 2005 Chateau Brane-Cantenac
  • 1991 Grant Burge Mesach
  • 1992 Henschke Hill of Grace
  • 1981 Penfolds Grange

I also decided upon seeing the desserts and having some guests who would never have the experience again to go with the 1975 Lindemans Porphry instead of the 1997 Chateau D’Yquem.  I only ended up using two wines from my original list being the 1998 Pommeray Louise Champange and the 2008 Grosset Polish Hill.

So what was the menu and matching wines for the evening?  It was as follows:

  • Upon arrival – Bollinger NV Champagne
  • Tian of Alaskan King Crab, black caviar and radish – 1998 Pommeray Louise Champagne
  • Sousvide Pork Fillet, red cabbage, cauliflower puree and lentil pear salad – 2008 Grosset Polish Hill Riesling and 2007 La Belle Voisine Nuits St George (Pinot Noir)
  • Tomato heart and gin shooter, in tomato tea and basil oil – finishing off the 1998 Pommeray Louise Champange and 2008 Grosset Polish Hill Riesling
  • Smoked eel, jamon croquette with beetroot and apple – Rose Vin de Pays du Vaucluse
  • Vichy Asparagus with citrus and olive crumb and sousvide duck egg yolk –  2009 Bouchard Perrin & Fils Puligny Montrachet
  • Charcoal octupus in romesco sauce and verde oil – 2007 McWilliams Mount Pleasant Maurice O’Shea Shiraz
  • Confit duck in mushroom sauce, abalone and star anise consume – (we continued to drink whatever wines we had going at the time!)
  • Canon of saltbush lamb in minted pea soup and taro – 2000 Moss Wood Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Spiced poached pear crispy wonton, salted caramel and double cream – 1975 Lindemans Porphry
  • Death by Chocolate – 1980 Lindemans Vintage Port and Bailey’s NV Rutherglen Muscat

As you can imagine, we were quite satiated by the end of the evening!

This post has become quite a bit longer than I had expected, so I will leave my review of the food and wine matching and descriptions to the next post.  I just wanted to let you know that this was a very special meal – the best meal I have ever eaten thanks to Jay Huxley and his team, and among one of the best wine drinking experiences I have ever had.  Not every meal is like this though.  Tonight I am having a Chinese pork bun and drinking a 1997 Rosemount Show Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon.  But it is still great as I am sharing the evening with my loved one over good food and good wine.  What could be better?