Friday, February 05, 2010
Valentine Wines (and Chocolate)
As the big V-Day approaches, if you're a wine and chronically chocky "chocoholic" chocolate lover like me, here are just a few suggestions for the awesome pairing of wine and chocolate -- for just about any occassion:
Milk Chocolate Wine Suggestions
Pinot Noir (you might consider Mark West Pinot Noir $10) or a lighter-bodied Merlot (try Hogue or Columbia Crest) will complement a bar of milk chocolate, a creamy chocolate mousse or chocolate accented cheesecake. Rieslings, Muscats (try Bonny Doon's Muscat Vin de Glaciere or the Bonny Doon "Vin de Glaciere" Muscat for $15) or dessert wines tend to hold up well to mild milk chocolates. Also consider a sparkling wine or Champagne for pairing with milk chocolate dipped strawberries. Last, but not least a classic milk chocolate pairing to consider is a nice Ruby Port - a very safe bet when looking for a perfect wine to accent milk chocolate.
Dark Chocolate Wine Suggestions
Dark or bittersweet chocolates need a wine that offers a roasted, slightly robust flavor itself, with perhaps a hint of its own chocolate notes. Cabs and Zinfandels have a history of perfecting the dark chocolate match, resulting in an unparalleled tasting combination. A Cabernet Sauvignon or a Zinfandel (try Ancient Peaks Zinfandel), Rancho Zabaco or Ridge) will more than fill your chocolate pairing expectations. Also consider a Pinot Noir or a Merlot to handle dark chocolate around the 55% cocoa mark. Finally, give a Tawny or Vintage Port a go to offer a very well balanced pairing approach to a dark chocolate dessert or truffle.
White Chocolate Wine Suggestions
White chocolate tends to be more mellow and buttery in flavor, making it an ideal candidate for a Sherry (consider the Osborne Pedro Ximénez Sherry $20), for a Moscato d'Asti (try Saracco Moscato d'Asti 2006, $13), from Italy’s Piedmont region offers subtle, sweet bubbles, or an Orange Muscat (try Ventana Vineyard's Muscat d'Orange for $18). The Sherry and Moscato d’Asti will pick up the creaminess of the chocolates and the Orange Muscat will pick up any fruit tones on the scene. Another route, for pairing wine with white chocolate is going for the contrast pairing approach, this is a little riskier, but when you find a match it can be exceptional. For example, taking a wine like a Zinfandel which tends to have a heavier tannic content and often a higher alcohol level and partnering it with a creamy, buttered white chocolate can have an unusual "melding" affect. It's like the tannins get softened out by the fat content and make for a remarkable potential for pairing.