Peanut Butter and Wine – is there a pairing?

Sounds impossible, almost slightly ridiculous – but in truth, absolutely do-able.

I know, I know, you’re not supposed to stump a sommelier, well…it was almost done!

I am preparing for an event on February 12th at Bergstrom Jewelers which includes pairing to cheese and chocolate.  Normally, two of my favorites ‘pairables’.  However, when my chocolatier, Kristin Moffit of Love Handles Chocolate, approached me with her white chocolate peanut truffles, I almost lost it.  

I racked my brain and racked my brain.  What could I possibly put forth that would pair to four different cheeses and three separate chocolates (one including peanut butter!)?  So, I set out across the city and asked all my ‘wine nerdy’ friends.  I called my South American girlfriend, owner of two local restaurants, thinking of mourvedre. But after discussing it, then thought of the overpowering sense to the grape.  So, I called my French pals and really they had nothing to say but Champagne…(well, not so bad), but then thought of the very predictable cop-out that that would have been.  Next, I dug through every book I had looking for the perfect compliment.  Nothing.

My brain kept going back to Chardonnay with the toasty, nutty pieces to both the p.b. and the grape but then also to some lushy soft and supple reds that might just subtly compliment the chocolate, but then again, leave the p.b. in the dust.

All until…I walked in to Wolfgang Puck’s Restaurant in the Walker Art Center.  I had some business to attend to with my good pal Bill Gelow, operating manager to the resturant, and I was in the mood for one of their kick-ass asian chicken salads, so I decided to pop in.  In the midst of our business, tasting through a new line of Alsation wines, I asked my absurd question.  “Bill, what do YOU think about peanut butter and chocolate when it comes to pairing wine to it?”  Instead of laughing like everyone else had when I asked the question, he stopped to ponder.  I told him about my suggestions and what everyone else had offered up and we both agreed that nothing mentioned sounded very good.  Looking over at my newly opened Gewurztraminer, I said, ‘What about that?”  Without hesitation, Bill ran to grab a slab of peanut butter and drizzled it up with a thick chocolate syrup.  With the plate in front of us, we laughed and decided to start drinking through the wines behind the bar.  

Let me just start by saying, the Gewurz…a no go.

Here’s what we came up with:  Port, a gorgeous compliment to this bizarre pairing.  The soft caramelly flavor of the butter to the toastiness of the barrel and the rich chocolately complexity to both the syrup and the thickness of the port – our Tawny was a winner.

The one that took the cake?  A rare and very fun little satellite of Sauternes – a Cadillac (a sweet white wine appellation in the Bordeaux region).  A beautiful botrytized Sémillon with hints of banana, roasted pear, toasted brioche and again, a comparably thick pairing to the chocolate’s composition.  Absolutely stunning.  It reminded me of a banana split without the cherry.  I loved it.  

Thought I’d throw this little teaser in for all of you who think that some pairings are impossible!  Want to know what I’ll be using for my event at Bergstrom Jewelers, visit us at the event on February 12th or try it for yourself at home!

Cheers and here’s to your next bizarre pairing…got any?  Write to Amusée’s blog with some of your favorites.

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