Enough of this Fifty Shades of Grey stuff. What we really need on Valentine’s Day, when love is in the air, is a few shades of luscious dark to light chocolate and the different hues of plum red and straw yellow that mark incredible wines worth sharing with your Valentine.
Chocolate and Wine
Thought to go together easily by most, chocolate and wine actually pose pairing problems that are really tricky – not unlike a new Valentine’s romance. Salt, sweetness, texture, bitterness and creaminess are all elements that need to be considered when trying to match the perfect chocolate with the perfect wine, with the perfect Valentine, on the perfect night. Oh, but the effort is so worth it.
The ancient Aztecs considered chocolate a strong aphrodisiac, and red wine contains resveratrol, an antioxidant that helps boost blood flow before and during amorous activities. Those two facts make the pairing of wine and chocolate on Valentine’s Day a blood pumping must.
With that said, here are some of the basic Valentine’s Day romance tips – for wine and chocolate pairing, of course:
Don’t punch above your weight: Yes, opposites can attract, but the two with similar body types, style and weight usually end up hooking up. The same can be said here. Lighter chocolates need lighter wines. Darker and more robust chocolates call for bolder and more aggressive selections.
Make love, not war: Wine and chocolate both can be a bit intense, so skip the friction and let the chocolate be dominant. Keep the wine on the slightly sweeter side of the chocolate to avoid conflict.
Don’t forget the foreplay: Sure, everyone wants to go for the kill, but save your energy (and pallet) by starting with a light wine and delicate chocolate first, then move on to more dark, mysterious and powerful chocolates and wines.
Ok..Ok What Wine Pairs Best with what Chocolate?
White Chocolate –
Simply sugar, milk and cocoa butter, white chocolate calls for late harvest wines that really pack the sweetness. Moscato, Riesling or Ice wines are perfect. Drizzle some berries with some homemade white chocolate mousse and sip on Chateau Ste. Michelle “Eroica” Riesling ($18). Columbia Valley, WA- 94 pts This wine just continues to surprise with every release.
As cacao gets introduced into the mix, sweeter sparkling wines do well as matches, as do Gewurztraminer, Madeira and other fortified Ports. Everyone’s a sucker for simple milk chocolate covered strawberries. Go bubbly with Champagne Boizel Brut Rosé ($49) to make the perfect pink pairing.
Dark Chocolate –
As bitterness starts to creep up in the chocolate, you can drift into some interesting options. How about a right bank Bordeaux (Merlot) or a Pinot Noir from Burgundy for chocolates in the 40-50% cacao range. The darker you get (in excess of 60% cacao) the more bold the wine can get. Port and Sherry still work, but so dues Cabernet and Barolo. Be bold and dark this year. Go find fair trade Equal Exchange chocolate at your local natural grocer, select something that is 70-80% dark and bitter and share it with a Beni di Batasiolo Barolo from Piedmont ($40). The pairing is priceless.
Chocolate Pieces with Nuts or Fruit –
The Whitmans 40 piece sampler is a Valentine’s must, but careful. Nuts add different food elements and saltiness that call for a tawny Port, Riesling from Alsace or Primitivo. Try the Still Waters 2011 Estate Grown Primitivo from Paso Robles ($38). Dried fruit in the mix
can call for a Castello del Poggio Moscato ($15) or the return of your favorite sparkling wine.
Chocolate Cake –
If you’re going all in with chocolate cake, and why wouldn’t you, then make it count. Go big with this incredibly rich flourless chocolate cassis cake. Go find yourself a Syrah or Petite Sirah Port like the Cuvaison Espiritu Port Style Dessert Petite Sirah ($40) from Carneros. But tread lightly. With feelings this powerful, it’s easy to overdo it.
It’s rare to find love at first sight. You’re probably feeling bit of pressure. Tastes differ. Just remember, it’s Valentine’s Day. Relax and keep trying. Whatever you choose, just remember this one V-Day rule: If you can’t be with the wine you love, honey, love the wine you’re with.