On our recent adventure to VX Vineyards, my darling and I had the opportunity to not only sample some wonderful wine, but we also sampled some pretty fine confections.
Hungry Birds Eat Sweet confections is a little operation whose sole proprietor, Baranna Baker is very proud of. It seems like she has poured her heart and soul into each and every creation. We were fortunate enough to be able to take all five of her available confections home with us and thus a few days later we sat down with a bottle of VX 2012 Reserve Cuvee Pinot Noir and pair each of them to see which ones worked and which ones didn’t.
I wanted to be fair and thus, I decided to try a piece by itself, then a bite and sip of wine and finally a sip of wine and a bite to see if there was any difference in the flavors that came out.
We began our investigation with the Absinthe & Lemon Falksalt Caramels. By themselves these are pretty tasty, although I had a hard time distinguishing the flavors of absinthe, with it only coming thorough at the back end. Next, a sip of wine and a bite; the lemon really shines through with this combination on the front end of the flavors. Finally, a bite and a sip; with this pairing, the absinthe explodes in your mouth bathing your taste buds with hints of anise or black licorice. This finally way, bite and sip, works best of this caramel as it not only brings out all the flavors of the caramel but enhances the flavors of the wine as well.
Next, were the Brown Butter and Oak Smoked Maldron Salt Caramel. Again, a fine sweet on its own, stand well on its own merits. With the sip and bite, it was a pleasant experience, the wine and caramel mixed nicely. When I tried the bite and sip, however, the smokiness came through and on the back end it brought out the tannins in the wine.
My third venture was with the Lavender Macadamia Nut Toffee. Now this is some sweet yumminess. Laced with chocolate chips, this confection is wonderful. I found no difference in the bite/sip vs. sip/bite but the wine definitely brings out the flavors of lavender and chocolate. In this case, the wine becomes the accent for the chocolate and the lavender rather than the other way around.
Next were the Tahitian Vanilla and Pink Murray River Salt Caramel. Standing alone, the salt and vanilla comes through at the front end, with the vanilla having a more floral tone than that of the Madagascar Vanilla. With the sip/bite, the wine totally mutes the vanilla but allows the caramel flavors to come out boldly. With the bite/sip, the caramel really enhances the black berry accents in the wine quite nicely.
Finally, I came to the Mexican Vanilla and Espresso Salt Caramels. By itself the espresso flavors came through as a hint on the back end of the caramel. With the bite/sip, the flavors of the wine mingled with the flavors of the caramel to bring forth flavors reminiscent of cherry pie, which I thought was interesting. With the sip/bite, the espresso flavor is lost entirely, but the butteriness of the caramel does come through. This particular caramel does not work that well with this wine. I think it would probably work better with a Pinot Gris.
I’m not sure why the flavors varied the way they did? Perhaps it was a matter of what was hitting the taste buds first, second and so on. All I know is that the confections from Hungry Birds Eat Sweet are worth every penny, especially when paired with a nice red wine like VX’s 2012 Reserve Cuvee Pinot Noir. The unfortunate thing I discovered in writing this entry, is their website www.hungrybirdseatsweet.com appears to be expired and non-functioning, so you can’t purchase them online. Thus the only place that i know of where they can be purchased is at VX Vineyards in Newberg, OR