chocolate and wine pairing tips
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There may be no better time to indulge in wine and chocolate than on Valentine’s Day. It’s sweet, it’s sexy, and it can definitely score you some brownie points for thoughtfulness. However, creating a pairing that is actually delicious is not as simple as picking a random bottle of wine from the wine rack and playing chocolate roulette with the sampler box your sweetie brought home.

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“Wine and chocolate certainly have a complex relationship. There are pairings that work beautifully and others that completely clash,” says Melissa Rockwell, direct to consumer sales manager at Southold, New York-based Sparkling Pointe Vineyards and Winery.

Sparkling Pointe is known for its chocolate and wine pairings, a daily staple on the menu at the winery’s tasting house. In fact, the tastings have become so popular with the clientele, says Rockwell, many purchase exotic-flavored chocolate bars and wine to take home to entertain friends and family.

But when it comes to creating your own wine and chocolate pairings from scratch, Rockwell says there are a few things to take into account to ensure you’re hitting the perfect note. The most important of these, she says, is to pay attention to the sweetness and tannin profile in both the wine and the chocolate you are pairing together.

“I generally tend to abide by the thought process: Your wine should be sweeter than your dessert. However, chocolates with ancillary flavors such as saltiness, nuts, or fruits tend to open up the world of pairing options,” she says.

She also says to be open to unique types of wine and chocolate pairings, such as bacon-infused chocolate with a Malbec or a chocolate blended with fruit paired with bubbly wine or Champagne.

“I had this chocolate from Vosges called the Amalfi bar made of white chocolate, lemon zest, and pink peppercorns with 36 percent cocoa butter that I paired with the Sparkling Pointe Blanc de Blancs. The lemon flavors in the wine and the bight acidity paired beautifully with the flavor combinations in this chocolate,” she notes.

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If you’re still not sure you’re ready to develop your own wine and chocolate pairing without any help, Rockwell offers her wine picks for a few different types of chocolate. Pick one pairing or make it even more fun with a sampler of each chocolate and wine.

Dark Chocolate

“That’s easy. Port from Portugal,” says Rockwell. “Ports are intensely flavored to balance the somewhat bitter flavors in dark chocolate.”

Milk Chocolate

“Most often sweet, either frizzante (slightly fizzy) or full sparkling red wine from Piedmont, Brachetto is a fruity style and the extra fat content in the milk chocolate makes it easier to pair as compared to dark chocolate,” she says.

What is white chocolate?

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White Chocolate 

“I think white chocolate is underrated for wine pairings. I would go with a Moscato d’Asti for this pairing. I love the orange and peach notes, plus that sweetness is sure to match,” she says.

Peanut Butter Truffle

“I am imagining a pairing of Sauternes—a sweet wine from the Bordeaux region, or even a late harvest Chenin Blanc, with a bit of botrytis to add some honey characters, nuttiness, and sweetness to meld with the peanut butter and chocolate flavors,” says Rockwell.

Raspberry-Filled Chocolate

“Cabernet Franc Ice or Late Harvest wine. Those ripe raspberry flavors in the cab franc and sweetness of the ice wine/late harvest process should be a perfect match for a raspberry filled chocolate. Inniskillin in the Niagara region makes a stellar one,” she says.

A Box Of Russell Stover Chocolates

“I think I will go big and fancy here with a Barolo Chinato. This is an aromatized wine from the Piedmont with notes of botanicals, herbs, and spices and big Nebbiolo flavors,” Rockwell says.

Check out our Valentine’s Day giveaway on Instagram (three lucky winners will get lots of goodies from Hotel Chocolat)!

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Related Video: 14 Gifts for Your Food-Loving Valentine

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