After a gustatory gallivant with Neuhaus chocolates inspired by perfumes last month, I couldn’t resist also buying their Wine & Pralines Pairing Collection, in which 6 different flavors of pralines have been created to pair with wines (3 with white and 3 with red). Ideally each praline would pair with a different wine, but my other half and I took the more practical route and matched the 3 “white wine” chocolates with a 2021 Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand (I have never had a bad one in this category).
Each praline is double layered, smooth on top and with a rougher texture on the bottom. The first is Sommelier Miel, “a soft, crunchy hazelnut praliné with cardamom and acacia honey, flavoured and coated with fine milk chocolate.” I could certainly taste the herbal aromas (I thought of rosemary at first), grounded and sweetened with honey, although the hazelnut was a bit overpowered by these and barely perceptible.
After the initial nibble, I was spontaneously inspired to choose a perfume to pair with each praline. The cardamom and savory yet floral profile made me think of Ormonde Jayne Montabaco (I reached for my bottle of the Intensivo, temporarily forgetting that I still had a travel spray of the original) by perfumer Geza Schoen, and the tobacco-spicy as well as airy, tea-like facets worked well in this combination.
The second is Sommelier Amandes, “an almond praliné with a perfume of Italian olive oil, finished with a sprinkle of sea salt.” This was indeed nutty with the saltiness we’ve come to expect from certain caramels, and the wine brought out the bouquet of flavors from the chocolate (not so much vice versa).
I don’t have any distinctly nutty perfumes, but figured a strongly woody one would fit, which led me to Le Labo Santal 33 by perfumer Frank Voelkl. The sandalwood, cedarwood, cardamom (!), and dry papyrus complemented the salty almond and dark chocolate, but may have competed for attention with the flavors.
The third is Sommelier Graines, “an almond praliné with pumpkin and sunflower seeds, coated with Dulcey chocolate and paprika powder.” This reminded me of those multigrain powders that were meant to be mixed with hot water, although they never actually dissolved, so it was more like eating cereal in a liquid form—quite comforting in winters when I was a child and teenager. This praline would have paired better with a mineralic wine, such as a skin-contact orange wine or an amber wine matured in clay vessels. The slight kick from the paprika was a nice touch.
For this, I also didn’t have a perfume equivalent, but I went with Masque Milano Ray-Flection by perfumer Alex Lee. With the perceived greenness from violet leaves, intensity from a “solar rays accord,” and grounding from the hidden cardamom (yet again—and I bring it up because I have in the past blamed cardamom for perfumes I disliked and then found its presence in perfumes I love), Ray-Flection stood up to the challenge.
I’m looking forward to the red wine pairing.