Thursday, February 2, 2012

Fridays with Bri: KoKo meets Wine!


Koko Chocolates is a local Ottawa chocolate company, owned and operated by the warm and lovely Jen Winter, ‘a self-proclaimed chocolate snob’ [as stated on the Koko website]. Koko has been in business since 2008, taking the city by storm and becoming a household name synonymous with decadence. We met Jen and her truffles during our wedding project, and Jordan hasn’t let Jen out of her sight since. With Valentine’s Day rolling around, I know that Jordan doesn’t like to receive gifts or tokens on that day…however, she would never turn down Koko truffles. From that knowledge sprung the idea: I would create a wine pairing menu to go with Koko’s fantastic flavours. With Jen on board, and Jordan happy to help with the tasting, we’ve done our homework, and now present you with the Valentine’s Day Koko-Nest pairing menu.

I chose to pair a series of truffles with one white, one red, and one rosé wine, allowing you to choose your chocolates based on your wine colour preference…or vice versa. Showing up at your sweetie’s door with one perfect bottle of wine and the accompanying truffles will impress him/her to no end.

Note: each wine has a VIN number. VIN is specific to the Liquor Control Board of Ontario—this number isn’t relevant for people outside of the province.


Wine: Toasted Head Chardonnay, 2009. $17.95 VIN: 594341
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An oak-aged chardonnay, aged in barrels for 8 months~giving the wine flavours like vanilla, caramel, and butterscotch. It has a sweet, fruity flavour, and hints of toasted graham crackers. This wine is a bright straw colour, beautiful in a fine glass. The flavour lingers in your mouth for about 30 seconds (aka ‘a medium finish’), and there’s a weight to the wine…like the difference between water and 2% milk. It pairs well with the chocolates because, for a white wine, it’s got enough flavour to hold its own in the presence of chocolate, and due to the oak aging process, it won’t be overpowered by the rich treats.

If this wine is unavailable: ask your local wine store for an oak-aged white wine with medium body and hints of vanilla and caramel, and subtle fruit notes. (You’ll sound super savvy, too.)

Chocolates to pair with the white:

White Vanilla Rum: Rich white vanilla chocolate ganache, flavoured with dark Jamaican rum, dipped in dark chocolate. Brian’s bonus notes: This truffle is rich—but not overpowering—with coconut and rum flavours. It has a medium length, meaning that it lingers in your mouth for about half-a-minute. Use the white wine to accent this chocolate and bring out the almond flavours.

Triple Chocolate: Layers of rich white chocolate and milk chocolate ganache, enrobed in dark chocolate. Brian’s bonus notes: This truffle starts off with a splash of the creamy white chocolate insides, then the dark chocolate coating takes over. It finishes with the milk chocolate and some caramel notes. Slightly buttery hints of hazelnut play around your mouth before the flavour fades away, about thirty seconds after the first nibble. This truffle won’t so much complement the wine as pair with it, so literally eat this truffle in small bites while you sip your wine.

Milk Caramel: Milk chocolate ganache flavoured with caramel and a splash of brandy, dipped in milk chocolate. A friendly truffle for the less adventurous.


Wine: Barefoot White Zinfandel Rosé, $9.95, VIN: 79384
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This is a smooth, sweet wine with flavours of peach, strawberries, and pears. It has a short finish, meaning that it doesn’t linger very long on the tongue. Its high acidity means you’ll taste the wine on the tip of your tongue like a lemon. The pear flavours will hit you near the back of the tongue. It’s a good wine for novices, and a great crowd pleaser. If you bring this, everyone is going to enjoy it whether they like red or white. (Except, of course, your uncle the scotch drinker.)

The only downside to this wine is that it’s only around during the winter, so if you can’t find it, ask your vintner for a wine that has sweet pear notes with a low-to-medium body and a short finish. Again, you’ll look pretty cool.

Chocolates to pair with the Rosé:

Margarita: Dark chocolate ganache infused with lime and tequila, garnished with a sprinkle of sea salt. Brian’s bonus notes: This is Jordan’s FAVOURITE truffle. The smooth chocolate flavours are twisted together with the whammo punch of lime, and a sweet orchid undertone. It’s a sun-shiney bright flavour palette, with the saltiness amplifying the tastes. This truffle is to be eaten along with the wine; the rosé will bring out more of the citrus flavours in the ganache.

Raspberry: Raspberry and dark chocolate ganache with a touch of Chambord Liqueur. Brian’s bonus notes: This truffle has tart, sour cherry notes, and a genuine raspberry taste—nothing ‘Swedish Berries’ about this treat. It has a short finish, leaving the mouth promptly. This is really going to play off the sweet flavours of the rosé, to be eaten before or after the wine…but you may lose some of the wine’s notes with this one.

Cinammon Love: A seasonal offering for Koko. White chocolate ganache turned a romantic pink, infused with cinnamon tea and fresh ground cinnamon. Brian’s bonus notes: a sweet, rich bite with a tart beginning, with warm heat from the cinnamon, wrapping around your throat. This is a very different chocolate than Koko’s usual style, not quite as smooth but offering up a sweet punchy cinnamon heart flavour. The wine will complement this one very nicely because of the astringency (bubbliness) of the wine.


Passionfruit: Dark chocolate ganache flavoured with real passionfruit. A neat twist for the chocolate-meets-fruit lovers.


Wine: Lindemans Bin 50 Shiraz, $11.95, VIN: 145367
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This was the first wine I ever suggested to Jordan, and it remains her favourite. I suspect she’ll get the VIN number tattooed on herself someday. This wine is a ruby-purple colour, with floral and blackberry notes. It has hints of eucalyptus and sweet spice, hitting the middle of the tongue with the fruit flavours. This whole wine is centered around its fruit flavours. This wine won’t dry out your mouth, and doesn’t burn on the way down; yet, it still leaves your palette draped in a velvet coating. It literally tastes ruby, with a full-bodied, long finish that lingers for up to a full minute. Everyone that I’ve recommended this wine to has loved it, including Jordan’s mom who usually drinks very dry malbecs. In general, Shiraz (aka ‘Syrah’ is a perfect pairing with chocolate.

If you can’t find this wine, ask your vintner for a fruity, smooth Shiraz or another red wine with hints of blackberries and subtle spiciness.

Chocolates to pair with the red:

Grand Marnier: A classic orange-flavoured dark chocolate ganache in a dark chocolate mold. Brian’s bonus notes: This one is extremely smooth for such a dark chocolate. It has sweet orange flavours with smooth cherry and coffee notes that linger for a very long time. It is reminiscent of chocolate pudding in your mouth: thick, rich, sweet, and comforting. This one will accent the red wine, bringing the spices to the forefront and smoothing out the sweetness of the fruity notes.

Thai Chili: Spicy Thai chili peppers infused into a rich dark chocolate ganache. Brian’s bonus notes: This is a full mouth experience. Clean and simple, with a cardamom start and a pepper finish. It doesn’t linger overly long, and tastes like a bittersweet chocolate in the back of the throat. This chocolate will pair well with the wine due to the juiciness of the wine balancing the low sweetness of the truffle. This is my favourite pairing in the list. 

Italian Lover: Dark chocolate ganache, flavoured with amaretto and cognac. A sinfully rich treat; it manages, like all of Koko’s truffles, to impart the flavours of the spirits without making you worry about passing a breathalyzer, like some chocolates on the market.


Chocolate has always gone well with wine. If you haven’t had a chance to try them together, buy a couple bottles of wine and some premium chocolates (we obviously recommend Koko) and experiment. Don’t feel embarrassed to read the back of the bottle: usually there are some key, simple tasting notes there for you. Look for wines that have a strong flavour but aren’t overly sweet—don’t hide the flavours of the chocolate behind, say, an ice wine. Because really in the end, the chocolate is the star of the show.

Koko Chocolates are available at Thyme & Again, Viva Loca, The Red Apron, and The Candy Store, all in Ottawa…or they can be ordered online. If you’re in Ottawa this weekend, Jen will be at the Urban Craft show this Saturday—perfect timing for Valentine’s Day, or Anti-Valentine’s Day, as we like to celebrate. Hell, just buy them because it’s any day; they’re the kind of thing I keep hidden in the closet for my next marital faux-pas. 

You can keep in touch with Koko Chocolates:
-at their website
-on twitter

Chocolate photo's from

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the fabulous pairing suggestions Brian and the kind words about koko!! I will definitely be sharing your suggestions.