It’s almost Valentine’s Day, and that’s a pretty important time to have a proper wine picked. You might opt for a sparkling wine, such as a Champagne, Cava, Prosecco, or Sekt, and a sparkling rose is a nice alternative to a brut, especially with its pinkish color.
However, you might want to choose something other than Champagne, especially if chocolate will be playing a major role this Valentine’s Day. And we all know it’s not Valentine’s Day without chocolate. So what wines do we pair with chocolate?
If you’re going with milk chocolate, your best bets are somewhat lighter to medium bodied red wines. These would include Pinot Noir and Merlot. Even some white wines would be acceptable, particularly if the chocolate includes cream or fruit. When choosing a Pinot Noir, look to the Burgundy region of France (such as Louis Jadot), as well as Oregon (such as Argyle and Benton Lane) and California (such as Gary Farrell and Buena Vista) – these regions tend to produce good quality Pinot Noir.
When choosing a Merlot, look to the Bordeaux region of France (such as Christian Moueix), as well as California (such as Freemark Abbey and Duckhorn), Washington (such as Chateau Ste. Michelle), and New York wine producing regions (many from Long Island and Finger Lakes). A white that can pair well with lighter chocolates is Riesling, with its initial sweetness, followed by its racy acidity. For a good quality Riesling, look to the Alsace region of France (such as Pierre Sparr and Zind-Humbrecht), or several wine producing regions of Germany, including Mosel (such as Dr. Loosen and Dr. Hans Von Muller), Nahe, and Rheingau.
For dark chocolate, heavier and more full bodied red wines are a must. Bigger wines with lots of texture from having a more tannic nature, as well as having big, bold fruit, spice, wood, and earth characteristics, allow these full bodied reds to pair well with dark chocolate. These wines include Cabernet Sauvignon from the Bordeaux region of France (such as Chateau Gloria and Pavillon de Leoville Poyferre), and from California (such as Stag’s Leap and Jordan), Zinfandel from California (such as Murphy Goode Liar’s Dice and Seven Deadly Zins), and Syrah from California (such as Michael David 6th Sense), Australia (such as d’Arenberg, Penfolds, and Yalumba), and the Rhone region of France (such as E. Guigal Cotes du Rhone).
Another alternative is to pour a Port wine with chocolate. There are many different types of Port, including tawny, ruby, and vintage. It’s important to choose a Port of very good quality, and sometimes they can be a bit pricey, but it’s certainly worthwhile, as there’s nothing quite like a good Port. Some dependable Ports include Cockburn’s, Dow’s, Graham’s, Taylor Fladgate, and Warre’s.
These wines pair nicely with chocolates, as well as chocolate based desserts such as cake and fondue. While Champagne and sparkling wines are festive and romantic, these other wines are a perfect accompaniment for chocolate this Valentine’s Day.