Enhance Romance! (With the Best Wine and Chocolate Pairings)
I hear it every year around Valentine’s Day. “Wine and chocolate just go together!!”
Well, no. No they don’t.
Wine and chocolate, if mis-matched, can be a bitter, bitter experience. And ain’t nobody wantin’ bitter on Valentine’s day!
Immediate romantic buzz-kill.
Sooo… in the interest of romance, I gathered a collection of wines and chocolates and got to work tasting and pairing.
Yup, all for romance. Never mind that I was drinking wine and eating chocolate all afternoon. I had a full-on stomach ache at the end of the day, but I can’t think of a better way to get one.
I began with four wines, three chocolates, and two chocolate confections. The wines were a dry, full-bodied red (Michael David Winery 6th Sense Syrah),
a dry, light-bodied red (Save Me San Francisco Soul Sister Pinot Noir),
a sweet, slightly fizzy red (New Age Red),
and a sweet, bubbly white (Ballatore Gran Spumante).
The chocolates were from Zoet, a Belgian chocolatier, with a White Chocolate bar, a Milk Chocolate and a Dark Chocolate. Also included were Hy-Vee brand Milk Chocolate Caramels, and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, (because, why have chocolate and not include Reese’s?).
Following are the surprising results of my non-scientific study.
My Number One Combo was the 6th Sense Syrah and the Dark Chocolate.
Probably not surprising, since I am not so much into sweet foods. These two combined had the least amount of sugar of any of the combinations. The wine, full of black plum, black cherry and pepper spice, had only light tannin on the finish. Which was good considering the chocolate was lower in fat than others. Fat can act to soften bigger tannins in the wine. All together mingling on my palate, the wine’s fruit brightened considerably, leaving a sensation of a raspberry filled, dark chocolate candy! Chalk one up for romance!
My Number One Surprise was the combination of the Soul Sister Pinot Noir and the White Chocolate bar.
Never would I have paired the acid and dryness of a Pinot Noir with the ultra sweetness of white chocolate. But a recent blog post at Wine Folly assured me it was worth trying. Indeed the Pinot Noir is light on the palate with sweet black cherry notes and a hint of cinnamon. It wraps up with cherry liquor flavor, bright acidity and dry, dusty tannins. Call me crazy, but the addition of white chocolate makes the whole thing taste like a cherry vanilla sundae! The very creamy, fatty texture of the chocolate softens up the wine’s acidity, bringing out the wine’s fruit which blends deliciously with the sweet vanilla chocolate flavors. Another score for romance!
My Most Fun Combo was the New Age Red combined with a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.
The New Age sports a lively little fizz and grapey sweet flavors of raspberries and cherries. Together on my palate, I was enjoying a peanut butter and jelly sandwich! Yes! Romance and fun can go together!
My Surprising Disappointments came as I found nothing that was a great match with the Milk Chocolate. And, none of the chocolates were super matched with the Ballatore Gran Spumante. The Ballatore shows pleasant bubbles and sweet peach flavors. Its best pairing was with the white chocolate, but not so good as to be lighting the romance on fire. Either the Milk chocolate or the Ballatore would be quite romantic, however, when paired with, say, some roses or a bouquet of spring tulips.
And, Because I Hadn’t Consumed Enough, I found the remnants of a lovely tawny port in the bar. Warre’s Otima 10 is a ten year aged tawny port full of aged caramel-toffee and oak notes held in a rich, velvet-like palate.
The nutty sweet flavor of the Reese’s paired with some nutty flavors in the Port and actually brought out the sweetness of the wine. Of course, the chocolate caramels were delicious with the caramel richness of the Port. Both, a win for romance!
Try some of these romantic chocolate and wine pairings with your Valentine and who knows where romance might lead….
But please, no more chocolate or sweet wines for me! I will find romance in a glass of that hearty, dry Syrah and a brightly flickering candle.