Valentine’s Day. Dedicated to the one(s) you love.
Official color: red. Lingua franca: chocolate. Zeitgeist: romance.
Does wine have place in all this? Of course—this is a wine column.
Whoa, though. Unlike most foods, which have 200 to 300 taste qualities, wines and chocolate each have 900 or more. Wine and chocolate can be sublime pairing, but more easily disaster.
This we know: wine should be as sweet or slightly sweeter than the chocolate. Mess this up, both will taste sour.
Pair lighter chocolates with lighter wines, stronger chocolates with full-bodied wines. Wine experts argue incessantly about chocolate-wine pairings, so good luck.
Romantic alternative: Champagne or sparkling. Pour sweeter sec or demi-sec. Taste chocolate. Cleanse with bubbly. If pairing doesn’t work, savor sparkling solo, chomp chocolate later, perhaps in the warm glow of what happened during the bubbly buzz.
Non-chocolate scenario. Create cocktail called a “Kir.” Generally, Kirs are five-to-nine parts sparkling wine, one part liqueur. Liqueur determines the name and will cost $20-plus, but will last long time and make many Kirs.
• Kir Royale: Champagne, crème de cassis (blackcurrant liqueur).
• Kir Pétillant: sparkling wine, crème de cassis.
• Kir Impérial: Champagne/sparkling wine, raspberry liqueur (Chambord).
• Kir Pêche: sparkling wine, peach liqueur.
Whether you go sparkling-chocolate or Kir, you can use Spanish cava, Italian prosecco/spumante, New World bubbly or other sparklings, but popping higher dollar authentic French Champagne enhances romantic effect. Make the call depending on your—and your partner’s—romantic aspirations.
• Ruffino Prosecco NV: Very affordable sparkling, great party choice. $12
• Martini Prosecco NV: Best for Bellini cocktail (one part Prosecco, two parts peach purée). $10-15
• Bisol Desiderio Jeio Prosecco Brut NV: Ideal apéritif, wets appetite, tart finish cleanses palate for more substantial adventures. $15
• Domaine Chandon California Brut Classic NV: Delicious, wonderfully crisp, bright. $18-22
• Ferrari Riserva Lunelli Trento DOC 2006: Yellow apple, baked bread, subtle oak, toasty yeast, vanilla, spices; harmonious integration of flavors; persistent bubbles/mousse/perlage. $40-58
• Charles Heidsieck Millésimé 2006 Rosé: Delicate rose-coral color, persistent bubbles. Charles Heidsieck Champagnes regularly rate among world’s finest wines. $105-150
Last round: “Come quickly. I’m tasting the stars.”— Dom Pierre Pérignon
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