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From grapes to cacao, Museum hosts evening of perfect pairings

RALEIGH — Wine and chocolate experts from the nationally-recognized gourmet market A Southern Season will pair delectable chocolates with delicious wines at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in downtown Raleigh on Thursday, June 18. This wine and chocolate tasting is the first of three hosted by the Museum this summer in conjunction with its newest special exhibit, “Chocolate.” Additional tastings will be held on July 23 and August 13.

Each tasting will consist of different degrees of dark chocolate and coordinating wines. Joyce Fowler, a chocolate buying expert from A Southern Season, said one of the most popular pairings is a dark Swiss chocolate and a port wine, which is a milder pairing. When trying any combination of chocolate and wine, Fowler said it is important for the taster to take things slowly and think about the taste. “It’s best to take a sip of wine first because it clears your palate, then let the chocolate melt slowly in your mouth and think about what you’re tasting. It’s really quite wonderful,” Fowler said.

Fowler said that when deciding on a wine and chocolate pairing, one must start with the idea of balance. “If the wine is very big and fruity and rich, you would want a chocolate that would take it down,” she said. “It’s about finding a meeting place.” Fowler added that it is important to match up growing areas of both the chocolate and the wine. “The place the grapes were grown effects the way the wine tastes, and it’s exactly the same with cacao,” she said. Chocolate comes from the processed seeds of the cacao tree.

The wine and chocolate tastings will include admission to “Chocolate,” the Museum’s newest exhibit that explores the plant, the products and the culture of chocolate through the lenses of science, history and popular culture. “Chocolate” will engage your senses and reveal facets of this sweet that you’ve never thought about before.

The exhibit opens at 6 pm and the tastings begin at 7 pm. Pre-registration is required and the minimum age for attendance is 21. The fee is $25 per person ($20 for Friends). Space is limited; early registration is recommended. Tickets can be purchased online at www.naturalsciences.org or by calling 919.733.7450 x212. For additional information, contact Elizabeth Iaquinta at 919.733.7450 x352.