Paired vegan wine and bonbon tasting
What to enjoy at home that doesn’t feel too wildly displaced from our ‘before time’ activities? Enter virtual wine tastings. They come with all of the same benefits without the worry of how to get home. Last Saturday I attended a ‘Vegan fine wine and bonbon’ tasting hosted by Ropes & Twines on Zoom.
Situated on Bold Street in Liverpool, Ropes & Twines is a café bar offering up wines and other goodies to take home. It’s a really nice place to catch up with friends over a bottle. Also, I won a competition over Christmas so got to try some delicious coffee and wine from their selection. So, when they announced the tasting, I jumped at the chance.
The tasting was £35 per person and included 5 samples of fine wine, plus six signature bonbons made in-house. Bonbon usually conjures up imagery of those chewy spheres you get as part of Pick’n’Mix, but these are much more sophisticated. Think layered chocolates made up of ganache, gels and different textures finished with a glossy cocoa coating.
A couple of days before the tasting, I received an email with the instructions, “We want you to be chilled! So it’s up to you where you choose. It could be in your living room, your bed, or even your bath. Treat yourself!”– Luxury chocolates and wine in the bath, what could be better? Next, I’ll have a gold phone in my bathroom!
Saturday arrived, along with the chocolates and wine samples delivered to my door. I set up around the comfiest chair in the house with blankets, pillows and glasses and eagerly awaited 7pm.
The hosts kicked things off by introducing themselves and inviting us to either put our cameras on or leave them off. Helena is the resident wine buyer and Remy makes the bonbons (for some serious eye candy, check out their Instagram page where they post videos of the creations). Helena started off by explaining that a lot of wine, you may be surprised to find out, is not Vegan. Sometimes in production to get the desired consistency or flavour, winemakers add animal products like eggs.
First up was a rosé, C. de Campuget ‘1753’. If you’re anything like me, you maybe have, or had, a bad association with rosé wine. For the longest time, I associated it with the cheap garish stuff mixed with lemonade to make it more palatable. But rosé wine can be delicate and refreshing (and the vibrant ones can be exceptional quality too). Rosé wines like C. de Campuget are your gateway to drinking better rosé wine. A pale blush, a mixture of Syrah and Vermentino with flavours of pear and lime. Paired (or peared) with this was the pear gel and walnut ganache bonbon. The very light nature of the wine complimented the pear, plus rosé is a great match with walnut. Remy explained how he paints tempered cocoa powder inside each chocolate mould to create the beautiful finish on the Bonbons.
Next up was, I think my favourite. Udurraga ‘TH’ Chilean Chardonnay (2016) is a white wine made with minimal intervention and lots of sunlight leading to very ripe grapes. It’s then cold macerated and wild fermented before being matured in oak barrels for 10 months. With sumptuous notes of toffee and butter on the nose, I was itching to try this wine. On sipping, there were delicious flavours of butter, pastry, pineapple and mango. An excellent quality wine and exceptionally priced at £22 (at time of writing). Paired with the hazelnut Gianduja and crisp hazelnut Bonbon, the crunchy texture created an exciting sensation and complimented the pastry flavours in the wine.
Next up was a taste of the Zorzal Eggo Argentinean Bonarda (2016). Ok I confess, this one was also my favourite (!). It has crushed velvet flavours of cocoa, blackberries and something I couldn’t put my finger on. The Zoom chat pinged with another participant saying ‘I’m getting parma violets’ – that was it! The Zorzal is completely different to any wine I’ve ever had before, combining high acid with sultry textures. Grown on very old vines 1000m above sea level, roots need to go deep to get nutrients which help give the wine its rich flavours. It is then matured in concrete egg-shaped barrels to expose the wine to oxygen and move with the lees to give it more texture and depth. This was paired with strawberry gel and Andoa Ganache Bonbon. At this point, I zoned out for a minute because only very few pairs have impressed me as a much as this one. The flavours harmonised together as the bonbon took on some of the acid of the wine, enhancing its velvety texture and fruit flavours. I felt so inspired because so often if you look for a dessert pair the obvious one is well… dessert wine. I started listing all of the desserts I would love to try with this wine, a tangy raspberry tart, a zingy key lime pie or a rich frangipane.
The next sample was a fortified wine, it was the Quady Winery ‘Essensia’ – a Californian orange muscat. The winemaker, Andry Quady, previously had a career making high-grade fireworks before opening up the winery with his wife. Later on, Quady was introduced to the orange muscat grape and decided to produce a sweeter wine using a combination of skin contact, barrel ageing, and fortification. The result? A sumptuous amber coloured wine with scents of orange zest and soaked raisins. It has bursting orange flavours on the palate with crackling cinnamon and smoke. Paired with the mandarin marmalade and Manjari ganache bonbon, the taste sensation was a jaffa cake firework display.
The final wine was the G.D Vajra, Dolcetto d’Alba 2019, a powerful but smooth red from South facing vineyards in the Piemonte region of Italy. Ruby red with glints of purple in appearance with cherry, black currant and plum flavours. This was paired with my favourite bonbon of the evening – liquid sour cherry, pistachio ganache.
To finish, we enjoyed the final bonbon – oat milk salted caramel espresso ‘of the month’ ganache. Again, the bonbon was expertly created. It tasted of espresso and the salted caramel perfectly complimented the creaminess of the oat milk. Delicious!
The Ropes & Twines tasting was fun and informative. I believe that no matter what level of interest you have in wine, it’s an inclusive experience and you’ll come away having learned something interesting. Plus, what could be better than tasting wine from the comfort of your favourite armchair… or even your bath?!
The next Ropes & Twines tasting is booked for 27th February, full details to be announced. To find out more and to book visit the website here.
Check out their online store here.
Where is Ropes & Twines?
70 Bold St