It’s always the perfect time to look at a couple of guilty (or not so guilty) pleasures. Wine and chocolate.
We know about wine and food pairings ... it’s generally said that white wine goes well with seafood and red wine with rich meats.
But what wine matches with chocolate:
With tongues firmly in our cheeks, all you really need to know … chocolate is delicious, wine is delicious and eating chocolate while drinking wine is doubly delicious!
Matching wine with food is all about balance and so is matching wine and chocolate.
While there are things to think about, finding the right balance is not complicated. Just look at the most obvious characters of both the wine and the chocolate, are they:
rich vs light
full or medium bodied
bitter or creamy
dry or sweet
Let’s have a look at some types of chocolate and the wines we think will go a long way to creating that match made in heaven.
Dark chocolate with 70% to 80% cacao is the most intense and because of its rich flavours, it calls for bolder, richer and fuller-bodied red wines that have more concentrated fruit notes.
Cabernet Sauvignon and dark chocolate usually work well together, and if there was to be just one chocolate and wine suggestion, it would be this one.
The fruit intensity and medium to full bodied flavour of Shiraz makes for a rich and mouth-filling combination.
The Gig Shiraz Grenache matches well with heavier chocolates as it has good fruit weight and is lower in tannins which can balance out the bitterness of dark chocolate.
Milk chocolate has a lower percentage of cacao and a higher percentage of sugar. This plus its milk content means it’s milder, and sweeter; milk chocolate flavours include brown sugar, cocoa, vanilla, honey, caramel, milk, cream, nutty and/or malt.
Milk chocolate pairs nicely with lighter, fruiter and lower alcohol reds or try a fortified wine such as Liqueur Muscat – its butterscotch, toffee and nutty characteristics highlight milk chocolate’s nutty and caramel notes and enhance the overall flavour.
A gently oaked Chardonnay would be delicious with a buttery milk chocolate or with an all time favourite fruit and nut chocolate.The creamy mouthfeel of a Chardonnay works really well with a quality milk chocolate.
Even though this amazing confection is called white chocolate, it isn’t actually chocolate as it doesn’t include cocoa! Instead it is made of cocoa butter, sugar and milk solids.
The sweet flavours of cream, milk, honey, vanilla, caramel or fruit makes it a perfect partner to sweeter wines.
A brilliant match would be a fruit-driven white wine or Rosé as they help cleanse the palate of the richness of white chocolate.
What wine can I drink with Chilli chocolate?
This is perhaps the most popular spiced chocolate out there. The hot spice aftertaste of this delicacy is not for the faint hearted, but it goes wonderfully with a Tempranillo or Verdelho.
What wine can I drink with Salted Caramel chocolate?
Try this with a glass of Sparking Chardonnay; salty and sweet and so moreish.
What wine can I drink with Mint chocolate?
Crisp and refreshing, dark mint chocolate pairs well with Cabernet Sauvignon.
What wine can I drink with Dark Raspberry chocolate? This would be the perfect match to Petit Verdot.
Right now we have so many different flavours of chocolate available, just like we have an amazing selection of wines.
Each and every one of us has a unique palate, likes and dislikes, the only real way to find your favourite chocolate and wine match is to experiment and we know what a tough job that will be.
Give it a go and have a heap of fun finding your favourites.
I often hear ‘buy local’ or ‘support local business’ as well as support small business....but why (apart from feeling good about myself)?
A while ago Dick Smith was forced to close his Australian food business.
Apparently the beginning of the end for him was Aldi. He said that ‘I believed Australians would pay more for Australian products, but turns out I was wrong.’
Upper Reach produces handmade estate grown wines from fruit grown on our Swan Valley vineyard and made in our on-site winery.
We are passionate about linking the local community with its rich Swan Valley heritage.
When you visit Upper Reach, we hope you'll enjoy and experience local produce as a part of the history of this area.
By supporting local Swan Valley producers you are helping to keep a part of the Swan Valley as working vineyards and wineries...and in these Covid times, if we don't support local- who will? There are very few interstate tourists and fewer international ones!
Vineyards are vital to the future of the Swan, adding hugely to the ambiance, atmosphere and feel of the area.
Agriculture is becoming increasingly mechanised. Upper Reach is a labour intensive, hand crafted family owned and operated producer who employs, supports and lives locally.
Upper Reach as a family business is in stark contrast to mass-produced, corporatized wine production of the big, often multi-national wine companies.
The big wineries transport their grapes and bottled wines thousands of kilometres, first to the winery, as grapes and then to market as bottled wine (high food miles and high carbon footprint).
Corporations do not routinely source local products, they tend to source the cheapest inputs using national buying power. Their main aim is to make the maximum amount of profit to be returned to shareholders.
Whereas small and family businesses often struggle to break even but aim to make a profit, but most of the money is spent locally on the raw ingredients, on the services and the labour required, this is crucial support and investment in the local community.
Upper Reach sells local produced food products and support local services. It is really important that we have a reliable supplier base, so what we need is available when we need it.
Similarly we nurture local trades and service people, this critical network of suppliers and relationships are vital to ensure we can rely on them in an emergency.
People directly employed by small business tend to live in the local community, as do the staff employed by other local businesses that supply products and services.
Possibly the largest benefit to the local community Upper Reach offers, is a peri-urban food bowl 30 minutes from the city.
There are significant cultural benefits of Upper Reach and its agri-tourism setting, for tourists and local people, in promoting local agriculture, WA’s agricultural past, and the Swan settler heritage (Stirling made camp here on his exploration of the Swan).
I’ll think about this next time I’m in the supermarket, I won’t take their $2 milk, but will choose a West Australian brand. Same with supporting all the small fruit and vegetable shops and stalls and our local butcher, rather than the big supermarkets that I know screw down the farmers on price.
First let's look at why wine goes off and goes bad once the screw cap has been opened or the cork popped.
These are both chemical reactions, so if you lower the temperature, the reaction will be slower- that means: keeping your wine in the fridge will make it last longer.
Here is my guide to how long each wine type will last after being opened.
Red wines can last 3–5 days in a cool dark place sealed with their screwcap.
The more tannin and acidity the red wine has, the longer it tends to last after opening.
So, a light red with very little tannin, such as Pinot Noir, won’t last open as long as a rich red wine, like Shiraz.
Some wines will even improve after the first day open.
Store open red wines in a dark cool place after opening them.
If you don’t have a wine cellar, your fridge is better than letting wine sit out in a 21+°C room.
Sparkling wines can last 1–3 days in the fridge with a sparkling wine stopper
Sparkling wines lose their fizz quickly after opening. A traditional method sparkling wine, like ours or a Champagne, will last longer than a tank method sparkling wine, like Prosecco.
I have found the best Champagne Sealer, I've spent years trialling various closures/ ways to seal sparkling wine, and this one is the very best I've found.
Your sparkling wine will now last up to 5 days.
Unoaked white wine or rosé can last 5–7 days in the fridge sealed with the screwcap.
Off dry white and rosé wines will be drinkable for up to a week when stored in your refrigerator.
The taste will change subtly after the first day, as the wine oxidizes.
Overall the fruit character of the wine tends to diminish, becoming less vibrant.
Chardonnay or a full-bo3–5 days in fridge sealed with the screwcap.
Full-bodied white wines, like oaked Chardonnay, tend to oxidize more quickly because they saw more oxygen during their pre-bottling aging process.
Make sure you keep them sealed and in the fridge.
If you drink a lot of this type of wine, it’s a really smart idea to invest in an Argon Gas canister.
Fortified wines can last 28 days in a cool dark place, sealed with a cork.
Fortified wines like Port and Muscat have very long shelf lives because of the addition of brandy.
Just so you know, the sweeter the dessert wine, the longer it will last open.
Next time you're at the Cellar Door,make sure to ask us exactly how long our Swan Valley wines will last once you open them.
We look forward to seeing you soon.
Buying wine for a wine lover can be hard. Wine is so subjective, and personal preference can make selecting the right bottle tricky. So here at Upper Reach Winery, we have put together some gift ideas that will absolutely thrill a wine lover.
A Wine Appreciation Class | A terrific way for them to get a true understanding of wine and wine styles. Perfect for beginners and wine lovers alike.
A formal seated tasting experience, in the back of the working winery surrounded by tanks, barrels and winemaking equipment with a friendly casual vibe.
Learn about the difference between sweet/dry, what oak does to a wine and aged wines. You will get a very good understanding of the basics and be tasting like a pro in no time. There will be wine tasting throughout the class, so you can put your new knowledge into action. Due to CIVID-19 classes temporarily suspended, but will resume as soon as restrictions are lifted. Vouchers available via the Wine 101 link below.
Wine 101 $55pp | Wine 101 & Lunch $105pp
A Winery Tour | An all-inclusive tour experience is the perfect way to explore a boutique winery to get a real understanding of what it is like to grow grapes and how we make our wine.
Walk through our vineyard, discovering the grape varieties that make the region so special then tour the working winery, wine tasting as they go while we explaining the whole winemaking process. Sample the wines directly from tank or barrels, just like the winemaker. Tours have been suspended during the COVID-19 situation but will resume as soon as it is safe to do so. Get mum a voucher so she can book a tour and have a treat to look forward to in the coming months.
Winery Tour & Tasting $40pp | Winery Tour, Tasting & Lunch $95pp
Get them their very own vineyard for the night | Treat them to a break in our vineyard Spa cottage. Our historic cottage is the original workers' cottage built in 1907.
The cottage has stunning views from the deck overlooking our vineyard. Settle down for the afternoon with a glass of wine, a platter, or BBQ on the rear deck and watch the most amazing sunset over the vines. Walk the vineyard trail down to the Swan River, there is only one cottage so they will have the whole vineyard to themselves.
Weekday 2 Night Stay $398 | Weekend 2 Night Stay $598
Upper Reach Gift Cards | What better gift to give a wine enthusist but wine?!? Great gift idea for the last minute gift.
Instant gift cards available $50 $100 $250
These gift cards can be used for our winery tours, wine classes, cottage stays, and of course Wine! Perfect if you are a little unsure what wine styles they like (we can be a little snobby, us wine folk, when it comes to personal wine preferences)
Value 6 packs | These great value 6 packs can be ordered online with your personal message included in the box and shipped to the recipients home or office anywhere in Australia. There are 4 value packs to choose from, so you can be sure to find the perfect bundle at a really great price!
The Perth Royal Show is a national show so wineries from all over Australia, with hugely varying climates and growing conditions enter their top wine.
Whereas the Swan Valley Wine Show is a regional show, which enables the judges to look at one region and to get a real feel for the wine styles coming from that climate
In 1996, 24 years ago when we bought Upper Reach we were amazed to find that Captain Stirling camped opposite, on his first exploration of the Swan River.
On reading Stirling's diary & accounts from the time, it was clear that the Government in England, decided to establish a settlement in Western Australia, pretty much solely on the basis of Stirling's observations from that expedition!
Captain James Stirling left his ship in the natural harbour that we call Fremantle and explored the Swan River on a sailing dingy, the type of boat known as a 'gig'.
They camped on the opposite riverbank to Upper Reach, but explored from the river to the foothills.
"On a high bank we pitched our tent; the richness of the soil...the shrubs, the majesty of the surrounding trees, the abrupt banks of the river...the view of the blue mountains, from which we were not far distant, made the scenery around this spot as beautiful as anything of this kind I had ever witnessed." Stirling 1829
We wanted to celebrate the contribution that the soil here at Upper Reach made to the settlement of WA, and of course the soil is fundamental to our wines.
Making a pair of approachable, easy drinking wines called The Gig, after the small sailing dingy that Stirling used, seemed appropriate.
As we're coming into colder weather, it's time to get the fire blazing & dive into our stickies & fortified.
Let's explore Fortified Wine and all its warming deliciousness.
We will take a look at:
We'll be talking:
Let's explore the fizzy world of Sparkling wine!
Method Champegnoise, Sparkling, Champagne, Fizz, brut are all used to describe one of the best celbration drinks- a twice fermented wine.
Let's talk about
Shiraz is a very flexible variety, it changes and adapts to the each combination of climate and soil or terroir.
Look at the various words used to describe it, powerful, silky length, fragrant, spicy, polished and sophisticated...how can you not love this red wine?
Let's look at:
So get your Shiraz ready to drink, ideally it is from Upper Reach, but otherwise two differnet vintage from the same region will do- and let's start!
To host your own tasting at home, you will need these shiraz. Enjoy!