Wine & Chocolate Pairings (in a Love Emergency)

You still haven’t picked a bottle for Valentine’s Day, have you?

 


The middle of February has long been a time to celebrate love. The ancient Greeks and Romans held festivals to honor fertility and marriage. The fourteenth century English poet Geoffrey Chaucer wrote of love birds choosing their mate on St. Valentine’s Day. During the same period in France, King Charles VI issued a charter directing members of his court to annually celebrate annually with lavish festivals honoring love. During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the tradition of hand-written love notes spread throughout Europe and the United States. More recently, the variety of heartfelt gifts has expanded to flowers, chocolates and, thankfully, wine.
Whether it’s the promise of spring, a moment of hope in the dark, dreary days of winter, or simply an opportunity to share your love with another, St. Valentine’s Day brings a chance to let someone know how you feel about them. And what better way to tell them than with a bottle of wine. Indeed, wine itself can be an expression of love -- from the labor of love in the vineyard and cellar to the sensuousness of enjoying a glass, wine is the perfect drink for St. Valentine’s Day. Here are ten great values to celebrate the occasion and with chocolate pairings to match.

 
Martin Soler Rose Brut Nature Cava with Raspberry-Filled Truffles
 
Sparkling wine is always a good choice for celebration and on St. Valentine’s Day. Pink bubbles are certainly appropriate. This Cava from northeast Spain is an exceptional value, especially considering secondary fermentation occurs in the bottle. Generous fruit flavors and finesse on the palate make it not only delicious but versatile. 

 
Loosen Bros NV Dr. L Sparkling Riesling with White Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries
 
This is another bottle of bubbly that will bring a smile to any Valentine. The natural acidity in Riesling from the Mosel Valley in Germany makes perfect sense as a sparkling wine and the pleasant fruit and floral aromas and flavors pairs perfectly with strawberries dipped in white chocolate.

 
Pine & Post Chardonnay with White Chocolate Truffles
 
White wine can offer a challenge to chocolate pairings as the tannins in the chocolate can clash with the acidity of the wine. So if you’re thinking white, think white chocolate. This easy-going, straightforward Chardonnay from Washington State has plenty of fruit and well-integrated oak to match white chocolate truffles.

 
Oveja Negra Cabernet Franc-Carmenere with Molten Chocolate Lava Cake
 
A unique blend of 70% Cabernet Franc and 30% Carmenere from Maule Valley in Chile, this medium bodied wine provides plenty of red and black fruit notes with a underlying bit of spice and pepper. It’s just as decadent as its pairing, molten chocolate lava cake.

 
El Portillo Malbec and Bittersweet Chocolate Chunks
 
At 3,000 feet above sea level at the base of the Andes Mountains, Bodegas Salentein farms over 5,000 acres of beautiful vineyards. Their El Portillo line offers great value as is the case with this juicy, medium-bodied Malbec. Soft and lush on the palate with abundant berry flavors and aromas, pair this wine with a 70% (or more) cocoa bittersweet chocolate. 

 
La Quercia Montepulciano d’Abruzzo with Dark Chocolate Covered Bacon 
 
Italian wines can offer a great match with chocolate, especially ones that use minimal oak aging. This wine from the Abruzzi region of Italy is made from organic grapes and leans more to the earthy and savory side of the spectrum, making it a great pairing for dark chocolate covered bacon.

 
Shenandoah Vineyards Special Reserve Zinfandel with Dark Chocolate Covered Cherries 
 
Coming out of California’s Amador County, this Zinfandel is a bit more tempered than others from the region. While it still carries plenty of big fruit flavors, the 13.9% ABV hints at the lighter touch. The hints of spice and chocolate make this a great wine to pair with dark chocolate-covered cherries.

 
Beyerskloof Pinotage with Chocolate Covered Coffee Beans 
 
South Africa’s unique grape makes for another lovely St. Valentine’s Day wine. Beyerskloof Winery is the preeminent producer in Stellenbosch, the heart of the country’s winegrowing region. Soft and lush with velvety tannins, this Pinotage gives ample black cherry and plum notes. Background flavors of mocha and coffee make it perfect for chocolate covered coffee beans.

 
Liberty School Cabernet Sauvignon with Dark Mint Chocolate Bites
 
This second label from well-regarded Caymus consistently offers great value for drinkers looking for a big bold red. Coming out of Paso Robles in California’s Central Coast, the hint of mint behind the bolder fruit flavors in this wine will pair nicely with dark mint chocolate.

 
Pedro Romero Oloroso Sherry with Chocolate Caramel Candy Bars 
 
Finding an affordable dessert wine can sometimes be a challenge. Fortunately, the reemergence of sherry as a popular quaffing option has helped the dilemma. This dry Oloroso from Pedro Romero offers a pleasant array of aromas and flavors from honey and apricot to almond and mocha. Chocolate caramels are a perfect pairing for this one.
 
 

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