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Life is not all wine and roses, it’s chocolate too!

Sissy Preston – WSET Level 3 Certified Wine Consultant, generously shares her vast knowledge of wine with Texicureans and YOU!  Enjoy and thank you, Sissy!

“Valentine’s day is around the corner and the city will be filled with lover’s holding hands and strolling the streets, sipping wine in corner booths and gifting chocolates. So, when you retire after dinner and open that special bottle of wine, before popping those chocolates in your mouth, there are a few things you should know that will make your wine and chocolate pairing much more enjoyable.

If you plan ahead, there are chocolatiers that make chocolates specifically for pairing with wine. I discovered this when I went to a Scotch tasting and there were chocolates made for each particular scotch. It was nothing short of amazing. When pairing chocolates with wine you must start out with one simple rule, the wine must be at least as sweet as the chocolate. You do not want a sweet milky chocolate with a tannic wine. This combination will make your wine very bitter and unpleasant.

Let’s start with milk chocolate, which is one of the easier chocolates to pair. Milk chocolate is usually very sweet and creamy, so you want a sweet wine. A sweet Riesling or dessert wine, like Eiswein have the right amount of sweetness to balance with the sugar in the milk chocolate.

Eiswein is made in Canada and Germany and is made from grapes which are frozen on the vine, freezing the water in the grape and concentrating the sugars. This wine is a “clean”, lighter wine that pairs beautifully.

For a wine with a little more substance and depth, a Ruby Port from Portugal or some of the new Port “style” wines from the Hill Country, with its fruit flavors compliments the chocolate nicely. Ruby Port is affordable and available and is made to be consumed young.

Dark chocolate and dark chocolate truffles go very well with Merlot and Petite Sirah. I have found that Merlot, with its jammy and chocolate undertones goes particularly well with rich dark chocolate. Girard Petit Syrah, which is on the list at Huisache Grill, has flavors of black currant, jam, cassis and vanilla and would pair nicely with dark chocolate strawberries.

Getting into the semi-sweet dark chocolates, Merlot still pairs nicely, as does Pinot Noir, but my favorite is Syrah with dark chocolate ganache or a dark chocolate with some spice or nuts. In Australia, the Syrah grape is called Shiraz, and although these wines can pair as well, I prefer the more subtle California or Texas version.

Bittersweet chocolate or chocolate with cayenne, peppercorn or ginger requires a warm climate Cabernet, (Texas, Napa, Paso Robles) or a Zinfandel. I prefer a spicy Zinfandel. If the chocolate is over 70% cocoa a vintage Port from Portugal would be bold enough to hold its own with the high cocoa percentages. This dark, bittersweet chocolate is a little more challenging and you will have to use trial and error to find what works for you.

White chocolate, which is not really a true chocolate, is very sweet and can pair with Moscato d’Asti, Tokaji, or fruitier Pinot Noir. As a general rule, Champagne or Sparkling wine does not pair well with Chocolate unless it is a demi-sec or sweeter champagne and usually only with the white chocolate.

Rose’ champagne or rose’ sparkling can pair with a raspberry or cherry cream filled chocolate.

To get the most out of your tasting, bite the chocolate first and rather than chewing it, let it melt on your tongue, then take a quick sniff of the wine and a sip. Enjoy the lingering flavors and see if you like the flavor and feel. Take your time to savor and appreciate the nuances. To make it extra fun with your partner, have one of you taste the chocolate, the other take a sip of wine and KISS!

Make your tasting fun and if you find a pairing you love, e-mail us at sispreston@aol.com or Cindy at cindy@texicureans.com.

Cindy and I found that a soft Garagiste’ Bordeaux paired nicely with Comal Pecan Farms Semisweet dark chocolate covered pecans. Happy Valentine’s Day!