Wine and cheese and chocolate oh my!

Vom Fass keeps their doors open after hours for an “Evening of Wine, Cheese and Chocolate.”

Vom Fass—the funky new vinegar, oil and spirits boutique—is taking Claremont by storm. With their try-anything approach the international retailer is drawing in people from far and wide eager to come in for a taste.

 On Thursday night Vom Fass partnered up with the Cheese Cave, Regal Wine Co. and The Chocolate Angel for an intimate night of tastings including six different cheese, wine and chocolate pairings.

As we entered Vom Fass’ First Street location owners Kim Peeples and Denise Solis immediately greeted us and explained how the night would unfold. With a list of pairings, guests first stopped to get their wine then went on to pick up the coordinating chocolate and cheese.

First on the list was a light and refreshing Zonin Prosecco that paired wonderfully with decadent chocolate hearts and a creamy luscious Kunik cheese. The prosecco, known for its sweetness, was cut perfectly by the salty Kunick goat cheese provided by the Cheese Cave.

We were thoroughly impressed with our first pairing and hurried to see what pairing number two held in store. A Carmel Road Chardonnay was poured by John Wheeks, a wine representative from Regal Wines Co. Mr. Wheeks informed us that this was no usual Chardonnay—this particular wine had been aged only in metal, not the usual oak barrels. Without the oak, the Chardonnay was light and crisp and was a wonderful accompaniment to the lemon white chocolates and the Lamb Chopper cheese. This turned out to be one of our favorite pairings due to the fact the cheese, a sheep-milk Gouda, was simply to die for.

We then moved on to the Honoro Vera Granacha, a granache out of Spain, which paired with one of the best chocolates of the night, the raspberry chocolate and a earthy natural rinded goat cheese called Garrotxa.

We got a chance to catch up with the lady behind the chocolate, Linda Millray, or as she is better known, “The Chocolate Angel.” Ms. Millray has been making custom gourmet chocolate out of her home for over five years and has no plans to stop. In fact she is always expanding and her partnership with Vom Fass is only helping to boost her already successful business. IN addition to the pairings Ms. Millray is in the process of making vinegar chocolates using Vom Fass favorites.

Our fourth pairing started with a young Marques Del Campo Tempranillo and a cayenne cinnamon dark chocolate that turned out to be a spicy and spot on combination.

While we were busy with our tastings, Ms. Peeples, the co-owner, was busy entertaining. Creating interesting new combinations is one of Ms. Peeples favorite things to do and she could be seen running around the store with an array of different liqueurs and vinegars at any moment. We mentioned in passing that we were interested in trying the Wild Rose liqueur and Ms. Peeples enthusiastically mixed us a Wild Rose and Prosecco cocktail.

We also got to try something we had never had before, grappa. This Italian grape-based alcohol is made by distilling the skins, pulp, seeds and stems left over from the wine-making process, originally made to prevent waste. These days the making of grappa is a little more refined and many types can be found including the sweeter version that we tried, Grappa Moscato. Sweet or no­­—this drink is dangerous!

Our next libation was not so lethal, Vom Fass’ drink of the season, Cupid’s Cordial. This tasty shrub (Ms. Peeples educated us on the term, letting us know that any time a drink has vinegar it is considered a shrub) is made up of Strawberry vinegar, vodka and elderflower liqueur. The drink was sweet but satisfying with the elderberry giving it it’s truly unique taste.

At this point we had fallen very behind in the tastings and decided that we needed to get back to “work!” The fifth pairing was an Arrowood Cabernet Sauvignon that was rich and complex and paired wonderfully with another of our favorite chocolates, the mocha milk chocolate. It was also paired with the Tarentaise and raw alpine-style cow’s milk cheese.

We finally made it to the end with Ms. Peeples’ favorite paring featuring a Warre’s Tawney Port, a dark chocolate with fleur de sel and quite possibly the stinkiest cheese we have ever smelt: the Ardrahan. Cheese Cave owner Marnie Clarke told us that the Ardrahan was produced in Ireland and that it was made of cow’s milk, a departure from the other cheeses of the night.

 She also filled us in on her newest endeavor, DTLA Cheese, her new location in Grand Central market. This new location features a full kitchen and an ever-changing menu. But not everything is changing Ms. Clarke is still committed to being involved in her community. She told us that Ms. Solis and Ms. Peeples contacted her about doing the event and that she was more than happy to be a part of it.

“They are real outgoing and great at bringing restaurants together,” she said.

Up at the front counter, future pastry chef and current Vom Fass worker David Huerta made an eye-catching display of strawberries drizzled with Maletti balsamic vinegar. That definitely hit the spot.

With not even a year of business under their belt, it seems that Vom Fass Claremont is off to a roaring start. Ms. Solis says, “It’s worked really well, it’s a lot of fun and we are learning a lot.”

Ms. Solis says that part of their success is due to their amazing staff. We have to believe it is also in part due to the fact that they offer up free booze and delicious vinegar and oils.

If you are interested in finding out more about Vom Fass Claremont stop by their store located at 101 N. Indian Hill Blvd., Claremont or check them out online at

One sip, two sip, red sip, blue sip?