- Tess Vella-Collette
Next week is Valentine’s day. For some people this sounds thrilling, but for many people I know -- even people in relationships -- the thought of celebrating Valentine’s Day is akin to getting dental work done: painful and awkward.
My own husband is not what we would call a romantic. Now before I get myself in hot water, I will say that he is a lot of other things that are far more important: he is supportive and smart, inquisitive, funny and he is like, really hot. So I’d take all of those wonderful qualities over gifts, but Valentine’s Day isn’t exactly a day where he shines. I can remember a only few times in our 5 years together that he has gotten me flowers, and one of those times I actually had to utter the words: “Okay, you should probably get me flowers now.” (Did I mention he’s a good listener?) But because of this, sometimes I have to take the reins and make Valentine’s Day a thing. And the kinds of things I want on Valentine’s Day are wine and chocolates.
Whether you are gearing up for a sexy night with your sweetie or watching “The Notebook” with some gal pals, here are my perfect pairings with your chocolatey treats.
Milk Chocolate and Pinot Noir
I feel like not only do these wines work nicely as a pairing, milk chocolate and pinot noir are similar in the sense that they are both non-offensive flavors. With white and dark chocolate, people either love them or hate them, but milk chocolate is a middle ground that nearly everyone can agree upon. Same goes for pinot noir: it’s light and fruity, dry and balanced; there are no flavors that smack you over the head. It’s just an easy wine to enjoy.
The pinot noir I’d recommend with your favorite milk chocolate is from MacRostie Winery. Their 2014 MacRostie Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir is one of the best wines I’ve tasted in a long time. It’s complex and juicy, and a balance of acidity to cut through the creaminess of the milk chocolate. The wine has hints of bing cherries, blackberries, and blueberries...imagine those flavors paired with your chocolate. Sounds to me like a match made in heaven!
This wine is perfect for a special occasion with your sweetie, retailing for $34. It will amplify any night from regular to romantic!
White Chocolate and Champagne
Oddly enough, white chocolate is my least favorite kind of chocolate, but champagne is my favorite of all the wines. White chocolate is the sweetest, and the key to the right pairing is to find a wine to match the level of sugary goodness, and champagne is the perfect sweet, bubbly, tart compliment.
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The champagne I highly recommend with white chocolate is the JCB N°69 Crémant de Bourgogne. This is a sparking rosé, and it’s my favorite sparkling wine, hands down, always. Seriously, this wine has my whole heart. The wine is produced by famous winemaker Jean-Charles Boisset. He assigns each of his wines with a number which holds some significance in his life. 1969 is the year in which he was born, and also a year of freedom, creativity and sexual expression, so this just may be the perfect wine for you to enjoy on Valentine’s Day...ya know what I mean? (wink wink...hint hint...am I being subtle enough?) The wine is bright and tart, with lots of red berry flavors. Think chocolate-covered strawberries ... mmmm. Try this wine and it’ll be like cupid struck an arrow right through your heart.
You can find JCB around in stores, the price is typically around $30, and it is perfection in a flute.
Dark Chocolate and Cabernet Sauvignon
Finally onto my favorite chocolate, dark, rich, and slightly bitter. (I feel like I’m describing a person.) Dark chocolate is the most complex in flavor with an earthy quality, and the type of chocolate I find the most satisfying. Because of it’s decadent, deep, dark flavors, it is a chocolate that I think is best in smaller doses. This cannot be said for the suggested wine, however, drink that shit up. Red wine is good for you, right?!
Just like the dark chocolate itself, Cabernet Sauvignon is earthy, deep and complex. The particular cab that I recommend is the 2013 Nadia Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine is extremely rich and tannic. It highlights flavors of dark fruit, pepper and tobacco which compliment the cocoa flavor perfectly. This big, bold, California cab marries with the intense, rich flavors of your dark chocolate bite.
This can be found around town for about $20.
Ok - here’s the part of the program where I get a little snooty and opinionated. I am not a cab person. They are so in your face and smack you over the head with tannins. Many people like that type of thing, but it’s just not for me. Instead of a big Cali cab, with dark chocolate, I opt for a Chianti Classico. I much prefer Italian reds over Californian, (sorry, guys) and Chiantis are still round and robust, bold and rich in flavor - all the elements that stand up to dark chocolate, but they have a much smoother finish. If you’re like me (elitist? High maintenance? Pain in the ass?) and can’t stand tannic wines, try a Chianti instead!
So there you have it, some perfect pairings for the sweetest day of the year. Go ahead and cozy up to your lover, friends, or your cat. Don’t mind the red wine teeth, just enjoy! Cheers and ciao!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tess is a restaurant professional, home-baker and downtown Dayton dweller. When she's not mixing drinks for restaurant patrons, she's drinking champagne, buying shoes, or writing her blog, Ciao Vella. You can read about her home recipes, party planning tips, and more at www.CiaoVellaBlog.com.