Roses are red. Wine is, too. They both go with chocolate, from me to you.
As the story goes, Casanova consumed chocolate instead of champagne to induce romance. Here at WineFix.com, we prefer the latter, but this time of year we’re happy to have a heart-shaped box or two. That is, if we can enjoy it alongside our favorite wines.
Yes, it is possible to pair wine and chocolate and come out the better for it. Begin by tasting the chocolate. If necessary, take a few more bites. Pay attention to the overall sweetness levels as well as buttery, nutty or even bitter undertones.
Generally, food has more impact on the way a wine will taste than the other way around. However, chocolate has its own intensity, which can conflict with certain wines. Begin with a wine that is slightly sweeter than the chocolate, but avoid wines that are cloyingly sweet.
The stronger the chocolate, the more full-bodied the wine should be. Darker chocolates have their own tannins, which can overshadow the tannins in wine. Therefore, a tannin-driven Cabernet Sauvignon works beautifully with a big, bold chocolate.
Jim Gallen, wine expert and owner of Tom’s Tavern, suggests pairing Villa Pozzi Nero D’avola ($10) with dark chocolate covered cherries. Villa Pozzi Nero D’avola is an easy-drinking red wine from Sicily that has bright, fruit flavors. It is a perfect match with the sweet cherry center and creamy chocolate.
Not feeling cherries? Consider milk chocolate covered strawberries with Joseph Carr Merlot ($20). This great quality, medium-bodied Napa Merlot has notes of fresh plum, cedar and tobacco. The soft tannins in the wine help make the milk chocolate and strawberry flavors pop.
Gallen also recommends pairing The Crossings Sauvignon Blanc ($15) with white chocolate covered pretzels. This is a premium New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, that is characteristically crisp with light citrus flavors that cut through the saltiness of the pretzel and balance the sweetness of the white chocolate.
Madeline Puckette, founder of WineFolly.com, agrees The Crossings Sauvignon Blanc works well with white chocolate. She also suggests The Calling Pinot Noir ($37), a high-quality Russian River Valley wine with rich black cherry and vanilla flavors.
Puckette recommends Peter Lehmann Portrait Barossa Shiraz ($19) with red velvet cupcakes, which are cocoa based with either beet juice or food coloring. This is a premium, full-bodied wine with rich, dark fruit flavors.
Whatever pairings you try, enjoy with someone you love. After all, Valentine’s Day isn’t just a greeting card holiday. It’s a time to appreciate the love in your life.