Few things conjure the idea of romance as vividly as wine and chocolate. Both are absolutely decadent, sinfully delicious, and — depending on whom you ask — can lead to relaxed, um, inhibitions. In fact, chocolate has been linked to sexy times since the days of the Aztecs. As for wine, well, the ancient Greeks didn’t call Dionysus the god of wine and ecstasy for no reason. Yes, chocolate and wine make a natural pair for Valentine’s Day.
Yet, sparks don’t always fly in the relationship between chocolate and wine. Both are intense in their own way, and they both want to be in charge of the taste experience. When they clash on the palate, it’s much like walking in on your parents watching Fifty Shades of Grey — awkward and leaving behind an uncomfortable feeling. Fortunately, there are a few keys to pairing wine and chocolate that will help keep the flavor of your romantic Valentine’s Day evening from the first morsel to the last sip.
Sweets for the Just-As-Sweet
Remember that thing about relative sweetness? In order for a sweet food, such as chocolate (even dark chocolate!), to pair well with a wine, they must have the same degree of sweetness. If the chocolate is sweeter than the wine, the chocolate will overpower it and make the wine taste sour and thin in comparison. Instead, put the wine in charge. Choose a wine that is sweeter than the chocolate, as this will cause it to taste less sweet, leaving behind a greater impression of complexity.
Flavor & Texture: How does it feel?
Just as with any food, the texture and flavor of the wine and the chocolate – whether it’s a cookie, a bonbon, or a truffle—should complement each other. If the chocolate is fruity, earthy, or nutty, the wine should have similar flavor notes and mouthfeel to keep everyone in the mood.
Following are a few ideas to help you add a fun local twist to your Valentine’s Day wine pairing this year. As for dessert? Well, that’s up to you (wink, wink).
Why it works: The bubbles and crisp acidity in the wine help cut through the silky chocolate and the brioche and apple-led flavors in the wine and the truffle play off of each other, leaving you wanting more of both.
Why It Works: There’s a reason that ruby port and chocolate are a classic combination: The aromas of lush red roses, dark red berries, dates, and figs in the wine get the mouth watering and ready for sinfully rich cocoa. (As a bonus, there’s no need to wait until February 14 to get this groove on. Sharrott Winery is hosting a Wine and Chocolate Weekend on February 6 and 7 from 12:00-5:00 pm. Cost: $10 per person.)
Why It Works: Tell your bae that he or she rocks your world with this fun combination of chocolate-covered almonds and an award-winning wine that opens with ripe red raspberries and blackberries and finishes as smooth as silk sheets. They might even forgive you for calling them “bae!” All kidding aside, the almonds highlight the nutty earthiness of the chocolate and enhance the fruit profile of the wine.
Top (Hero) Image Courtesy: © tpophoto/Dollar Photo Club
Additional Images (In Order) Courtesy:
Old York Cellars
Enjou Chocolat online catalog
Red Bank Chocolate Shoppe