Valentine’s Day is Friday. Monster moment for chocolatiers, florists, and greeting card makers. Is there a place for wine in all this? This is a wine column, of course there is.
Whoa, though. Unlike most foods, which have 200 to 300 taste qualities, red wines and chocolate each have 900-plus flavor components. Wine and chocolate can be sublime; just as easily heartbreaking disaster. Tips:
• The wine should be as sweet or slightly sweeter than the chocolate. Miss on this, both will taste sour.
• Pair lighter chocolates with lighter wines, stronger chocolates with more full-bodied wines.
• Pair semi-sweet chocolate with ruby port.
• Pair mellow, buttery white chocolate with sweet wine—sherry, orange muscat, moscato d’Asti.
• Romantic compromise: Champagne or sparkling wine. Sparkling is a great palate cleanser. Pour a sweeter sec or demi-sec. Munch chocolate. Cleanse with bubbly. Munch chocolate. Cleanse with bubbly. Chocolate. Bubbly. Chocolate. Bubbly. Enjoy what develops after this goes on for a while with your Valentine companion.
A word of caution. Wine and chocolate is a perilous pairing. With the exception of the sparkling pairing ploy, you could be better served by presenting a dozen roses and a bottle of rosé. Rosé is the hottest category in wine now because it is so delicious—when made in the modern dry style—and pairs so well with food. Pretty in the glass, too.
Forget insipid, syrupy sweet rosé efforts of 20-plus years ago. Most of today’s rosé is fashioned for enjoyment all year long and pairs with wide range of food. You also can double up by presenting your love with sparkling rosé.
• Bodegas Campo Viejo Gran Campo Viejo Cava Brut Rosé NV: Vivid red fruits led by strawberry. Tart, excellent acidity, impressive stream of tiny bubbles. $11-14 Link to my review
• Canella Rosé Vino Spumante Brut NV: Fun, zesty, simple easy drinker. $14-22 Link to my review
• Scharffenberger Brut Excellence Mendocino County Sparkling Wine NV: Rich, creamy easy drinker with tasty fruit notes juxtaposed with excellent acidity, tangy qualities. $20 Link to my review
• Domaine Valentin Zusslin Crémant d’Alsace Brut Zéro NV: Delicious fruit, delicate elegance, nice example of Alsace crémant (French sparkling made using Champagne method not made in Champagne). $27-34 Link to my review
• Moët & Chandon 2012 Grand Vintage Champagne: Clean, fresh, juicy, complex, harmonious. Superb acidity heralds this as excellent food wine. $80-105 Link to my review
Last round: I only drink wine on two occasions. When it is Valentine’s Day. And when it is not Valentine’s Day.