While May has been named Michigan Wine Month, at Aurora Cellars, we like to showcase the collaborations we do with other small businesses throughout the state. One of the most popular collaborations we have at Aurora Cellars is our partnership with Grocer’s Daughter Chocolate in Empire.
Pairing a type of drink with a type of food can be difficult depending on what the components are. When asked how difficult it is to pair wine with chocolate, Jody Hayden, the owner of Grocer’s Daughter Chocolate, finds it much more difficult to pair chocolate with wine than with spirits and beer. Because of the many flavor notes and tannins in wine and fine chocolate, a bad pairing can make one or the other taste bitter then it really is. Hayden explains that creamier, delicate white wines and sparkling wines are easier to pair than the more aggressive, bold notes of many reds. “But a successful pairing of wine and chocolate is an incredibly delicious taste experience and the Aurora trios are a great example of this.”
When it comes to pairing wine and chocolate, there are many different ways that chocolate is used that pair with wine. Hayden says that each time they do a pairing, they taste through many options and formats including truffles, caramels, solid chocolate, chocolate covered nibs and cacao beans. Oftentimes, there is a sense of what may work together – for example, ginger almost always pairs well with dry to semi-sweet sparkling whites – but sometimes there are pairings that really surprise the taste buds.
Just like wine, there are different varieties of cacao that produce different flavor profiles. All of the chocolate at Grocer’s Daughter is made from Nacional cacao, which is a rare cacao prized for its unique floral aromas and bright tropical flavor notes. While 99% of the world’s chocolate is derived from mass-produced cacao and isn’t particularly flavorful or interesting, the 1% designated as ‘fine cacao’ has a great deal of diversity, explains Hayden. Just like with grapes, depending on the terroir of where the cacao is grown, flavors can be highlighted or diminished at many points along the value chain and may change flavor slightly from crop to crop.
Aurora Cellars prides itself on cool climate winemaking and how it gives our wines their own unique flavors to set it apart from the other wineries in the area. Grocer’s Daughter Chocolate makes sure the excellent quality chocolate is the star of the show and their #1 ingredient. Doing collaborations with other small businesses in the area help support the local and state economy and that goes along with how the Northern Michigan confectionary sources as many local ingredients as possible when making their product – which makes our collaboration even better.
Grocer’s Daughter Chocolate was founded in 2004 by Mimi Wheeler who had been chocolate as a hobby for years. In 2013, Hayden and her husband DC bought the business and have been committed to ethical business practices and progressive sourcing policies ever since. After 19 years in business, the Haydens will be opening a new gelato shop in the summer near the popular chocolate shop.
The long-time Northern Michigan-based confectionary has made three different truffle trios that pair amazingly with either our red, white or sparkling wine flights offered at Aurora Cellars:
Red flight pairing. Our red wine & chocolate flight pairing features our award-winning Blaufrankisch paired with a Hummingbird Truffle, our Radiance paired with a 85% Virgin Chocolate Single Origin Truffle, and our award-winning Cabernet Franc paired with a Cardamom Truffle.
White flight pairing. Our white wine & chocolate flight pairing features our five-star Luminous paired with a dairy-free Apricot Truffle, our multi-award winning Medium Sweet Gewürztraminer paired with a Ginger Honey Caramel truffle, and our Late Harvest Vignoles paired with an Orange White Chocolate Truffle.
Sparkling flight pairing. Our sparkling wine & chocolate flight pairing features our award-winning Brut Rosé paired with a Raspberry Honey Caramel Truffle, our Blanc de Blanc paired with a dairy free Pear Ginger Truffle, and our Serata Demi Sec paired with a Passionfruit White Chocolate Truffle.
“The goal is that both the wine and chocolate will shine and, even better, they will take you on a roller coaster of flavor that is complementary the entire time,” says Hayden. “We love collaborating with other local businesses and we hope you enjoy these trios as much as we did creating them!”
Some other collaborations Aurora Cellars offers in our tasting room are ice cream bars from Muskegon-based Ice Box Brand, Northern Michigan-based Great Lakes Potato Chip Company, and cheese dip from The Cheese Lady in Traverse City.
Come in and try these delicious truffles and other Michigan made items for yourself! Our tasting room is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. You can make a reservation by going onto our website.