|Sweethearts Unite: Pairing Wine and Chocolate
The road to true love is made a lot smoother with a gift of chocolate and wine. Membership to The Paso Robles Wine Club will surely make any wine lover’s heart pound with excitement, but to really help guide Cupid’s arrow, add a box—or two—of decadent handmade chocolates.
Pairing chocolate and wine isn’t something new—especially on Valentine’s Day. Those fabulous velvet covered heart-shaped candy boxes bedecked with everything from silk flowers to elaborate bows date back to the 1890s—and some versions were even made of blown glass. These treasures were the surest way to a woman’s heart and since chocolate fires the same feel good synapses in the brain that love does it was a gift that practically guaranteed a few smooches in return.
Like wine, chocolate is an agricultural product. Chocolate doesn’t grow on trees, but the cocoa tree produces fruit containing cocoa beans. The trees take anywhere from 5 to 8 years to mature, with one tree capable of producing 5 pounds of chocolate. Once the cocoa beans are extracted from the fruit, they are sundried and then roasted prior to being turned into any of the more popular varieties of chocolate.
For a truly memorable Valentine’s Day gift, take your sweetheart on a wine tasting tour with the Wine Wrangler and along the way, pick up a selection of wines to bring home and pair with chocolate. Or, if you’re already a member of The Paso Robles Wine Club, pick a few bottles from your recent shipment.
Here are our favorite chocolates and the wines that we like to pair with them:
White Chocolate: Actually, white chocolate isn’t chocolate at all since it doesn’t contain cocoa, but this confectionary is a perennial favorite for the unique and adventurous and with notes of honey and caramel, it pairs well with Muscat or a Demi-sac or sweet Champagne.
Milk Chocolate: Long a favorite of children for its mild mannered appeal, this classic has gotten the grownup treatment in recent years. Made by diluting cocoa beans in milk, the finished product is creamy, lush and round in the finish. Pair milk chocolate with a creamy Sherry or aged Port for a palate pleasing sensation.
Bittersweet Chocolate: Mysterious, hard to pin down and alluring, bittersweet chocolate is made from adding small amounts of sugar to chocolate liquor. It runs the gamut from slightly sweet and smoky to more confectionary and less bitter. An excellent match for Grenache.
Dark Chocolate: A favorite of health nuts because it has low amounts of added sugar and lots of flavonoids, dark chocolate is rich in cocoa and has a definitive depth, dimension and complexity. Serve it with a late harvest Zinfandel for a mind-boggling taste sensation.
Chocolate Covered Cherries and Dipped Strawberries: Sweets for the sweets—perfect cherries and juicy strawberries enrobed in chocolate are a decadent and classical Valentine’s Day treat. Serve them with a Cabernet Sauvignon or a Merlot for a match made in heaven.