Chocolate originated from the Aztecs in Mexico and was a drink called xocolatl made from Cacao. The Olmecs, the oldest known civilization of the Americas, were the first users of cacao. It was a bitter, spicy drink and was often flavoured with vanilla, chilli and annatto. It was believed that it could fight fatigue and that it was an aphrodisiac. Hernando Cortez was the first European to note chocolate when he visited the court of Emperor Montezuma of Mexico in 1519.
It became popular in Europe and the first chocolate house was reputedly opened in London in 1657 by a Frenchman. The 17th century French Cardinal Mazarin never travelled without his personal chocolate maker. King Louis XIV of France established in his court the position of "Royal Chocolate Maker to the King."
In 1847 the Fry's Chocolate Factory located in Keynsham, near Bristol, moulded the first ever chocolate bar suitable for widespread for consumption and the rest is history.
There is much talk over pairing wine with chocolate - some say it's an impossible task. There are rules of thought that say you should pair a dry wine with the chocolate – and rules that say that the wine should be at least as sweet, if not a touch sweeter, than the chocolate you are serving it with. Otherwise, the taste may quickly veer towards sour.
To be perfectly honest it depends on your own palette. I find that I prefer a drier more acidic red like Cabernet Sauvignon with Milk Chocolate and a Merlot based wine with bitter sweet Dark Chocolate. If White Chocolate is on the menu then you need a nutty, citrus flavoured wine – perhaps a Chardonnay or a Sauvignon Blanc. As chocolate can have complex flavours I wouldn't try to compete with it by drinking a complex wine – single grape varieties are a good choice.
Try the Montagnac range (all at £4.75) – Montagnac Cabernet Sauvignon, Montagnac Merlot, Montagnac Chardonnay and Montagnac Sauvignon Blanc.
If in doubt the one thing to remember is that Champagne or Sparkling Wine will go well with both Dark and Milk chocolates!
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