Wine and Chocolate Pairing Guide – 4 Steps to FUN!

Did you know that National Chocolate Fondue Day is right around the corner? February 5th marks this special day in chocolate lovers’ hearts. To celebrate, we’re going to explore the world of Chocolate and Wine Pairing! But before we get to that, take a look at these tasty chocolate fondue recipes to celebrate all month-long! chocolate-fondue

What to dip? Here are a few ideas: marshmallows, pound cake, banana slices, pretzels, strawberries, pineapple, waffle bites, various cookies, graham crackers, chips, cinnamon roll bites, doughnut holes, pretty much anything you’d like to chocolate-ify!

Ok, now that you’ve read (and bookmarked!) some delicious chocolate fondue recipes to try all month-long, let’s have a good laugh with some of the funniest chocolate quotes we have found out there on the web. Just because. 🙂

“Why can’t I be comforted by carrots? Why does it have to be chocolate or wine?” – someecards.com

“Nobody knows the truffles I’ve seen…..” – George Lang

“The 12 step chocoholics program: Never be more than 12 steps away from chocolate.” – Terry Moore

“Chocolate comes from cocoa, which comes from trees – that makes it a plant. Therefore, chocolate counts as salad.” – Daniel Rafferty

“The parenting skill I’m most proud of is being able to shove a whole chocolate bar in my mouth then talk normal when my kid walks in.” SnarkECards

Now let’s get down to business – it’s time to learn about chocolate and wine pairing! We know wine is delicious on its own, but sometimes it’s fun to treat your taste buds to new and interesting combinations! Wine and chocolate go together like a horse and carriage – they’re a match made in heaven, but that’s not to say you can pair any chocolate with any wine and expect to hear choirs of angels. Let’s go through four basic rules for chocolate and wine pairing.

The 4 Cardinal Rules of Chocolate and Wine Pairing:

Rule #1 – Choose gourmet chocolate. Yes, you may have a great experience pairing leftover Christmas candies with wine, but it likely won’t be one for the record books. Whatever chocolate you enjoy, be it dark, milk, or white chocolate, it’s best to pick gourmet.

Rule #2 – Pick wine based on the sweetness of your chocolate. The distance of sweetness between the wine and the chocolate should be short. It’s safest to pick wine that is at least as sweet as the chocolate you’ve picked, even a touch sweeter. The further apart wine and chocolate are on the sweetness scale, the more bitterness creeps in.

Rule #3 – Match the richness. Light chocolate pairs better with lighter-bodied wines. The stronger the chocolate’s flavor, the more full-bodied wine you’ll want to pair it with, i.e. dark chocolate can stand up to a bold Cabernet Sauvignon better than white, or milk chocolate can. Also keep in mind that, in general, red wines tend to pair better with chocolate than white wines do.

A quick note before we go on to cardinal rule number four. Did you know that magic happens when you eat dark chocolate and drink red wine? It’s true. Research shows that chemical substances called polyphenols have a dilating effect on blood vessels, improving blood supply to the brain in terms of increased oxygen and sugar delivery. The result of this process allows us to solve complex problems with ease. Amazing!

Wine and Chocolate Pairing WineStylesRule #4 – Always taste the wine first! If you taste the chocolate before tasting the wine, your taste buds will be covered with cocoa butter, which will prevent you from getting a good reading of how the wine tastes on its own. Only take a bite of chocolate once you’ve assessed the wine. If you’re pairing multiple wines with multiple types of chocolates, be sure to cleanse your palate in between pairings. It’s also best, as with any tasting, to go from light to dark. Start with the lightest-bodied pairing, and work your way to the fullest-bodied.

Remember, everyone’s palate is different. What pairs well for one person may taste awful to another, and that’s what makes it fun! Remember, the goal is always to Taste, Learn, and Enjoy 🙂 To get you started, take a look at this simple wine and chocolate pairing guide.

Suggested Wine and Chocolate Pairings:Wine and Chocolate Pairing WineStyles

White Chocolate – A great match for Moscato d’Asti, a sweet Riesling, or a fruity Chardonnay. If you’re feeling dare-devil-ish, try pairing it with a red wine that has heavy tannins. Since this type of chocolate is made primarily from cacao butter, the strong tannins may cut through the chocolate’s fattiness and create a pleasant pairing.

Milk Chocolate – Pair your favorite gourmet milk chocolates with a smooth Merlot, Pinot Noir, Riesling, or dessert wine. Take care not to pair milk chocolate with dry red wines. The sugar in the chocolate can cancel out the fruit flavors in the wine leaving a bitter taste.

Dark Chocolate – For chocolate in the range of 50 to 70% cacao, pair with a bold Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, or Chianti. Once you hit the 70 to 100% cacao range, you’ll want to go all out in terms of full-bodied wines. Pair this range with Bordeaux, Malbec, Zinfandel, or Shiraz.

All – Pair champagne, sparkling or fortified wines with any type of chocolate to find a combo that tickles your taste buds!

Stay tuned for an upcoming post for you craft beer lovers out there – Chocolate and Beer pairing!

W&B_BootCamp_logoFebruary Wine and Beer Boot Camp, Dessert-Making Demo and Wine Pairings:

Want to skip the mess and treat your sweetheart to a night out this Valentine’s Day? Still looking for that perfect date idea? We can help! Check out WineStyles’ February Wine and Beer Boot Camp class, Dessert and Wine Pairings! Let your local WineStyles* team do the talking while you sit back and have fun tasting and learning side by side! Call your local WineStyles to reserve your seat! (Click here for WineStyles store locator).

*RSVP at your local participating store. Wine and Beer Boot Camp offers may vary at different WineStyles locations, dependent on local and state alcohol laws. Offer void where prohibited.

Thanks for reading,

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Stuffed Tomatoes Pairing Recipe

INGREDIENTS:
• 4 ripe beefsteak tomatoes (or zucchini, red peppers, potatoes)
•  1 pound ground beef
•  1/2 cup bread crumbs
•  1 yellow onion
•  1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
•  1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
•  1/4 cup olive oil
•  1/3 cup Gruyere
•  Sea salt
•  Pepper

DIRECTIONS:
Preheat the oven to 400° F.  Cut the tops off of each tomato and reserve the top. It will become a little hat, or as the French say, le chapeau.  Using a spoon, remove the seeds and scoop out the innards being careful not to pierce through the tomato flesh. Sprinkle tomatoes with sea salt and turn them upside down so that the excess water drains out.
With the exception of the olive oil, mix together all the other ingredients by hand until combined.  Place the stuffing in each tomato, sprinkle with Gruyere, and cover with the cut tomato top. Drizzle a little extra olive oil on top, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.   Bake uncovered for 40 minutes, then allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving.  Serve with a side dish of rice or mushroom risotto.  Recipe compliments of Château Rouchereau.

Rocher-LideyreChateau Lideyre
Cotes de Castillon
Bordeaux, France

Merlot is the main grape variety in the hillside vineyards located next to the Saint-Emilion appellation. This is blended with the other great Bordeaux grape variety, Cabernet Franc.  Philippe Bardet comes from a long line of wine growers and has been applying an environmentally-friendly approach with just the right technological balance in his vineyards for over fifteen years.  Bardet is always among the last to pick his grapes, which are entirely hand-sorted. Automated temperature fermentation control systems make it possible to keep the wines on the skins for a long time while maintaining perfect control of extraction.  Depending on the wine’s age, it goes perfectly well with grilled meats, duck and lamb chops, as well as roast chicken and medium-strong cheeses.

winemaker-eric-marin“Intense garnet-red color with crimson highlights and a full-bodied, subtle bouquet featuring berry fruit, very ripe black currants and violets.  The  after taste follows through with aromas of toast and spice.” – Eric Marin, winemaker

Winemaker: Eric Marin
Appellation: Cotes de Castillon Controlee, France
Varietal Blend:  87% Merlot, 13% Cabernet Franc
Analysis: 13.6% alc/vol
Aging: 75% American Oak, 25% French Oak, aged 14 month

Spicy Sausage Pasta

pasta-sausageINGREDIENTS:
• 1 ½ lbs hot turkey Italian sausage
• ½ cup olive oil
• 1 onion, chopped
• 3 garlic cloves, minced
• 1 Tbsp dried basil
• ½ tsp nutmeg
• 2 Tbsp sugar
• 1 tsp salt
• ½ tsp pepper
• 3 (28 oz) cans chopped tomatoes
• 6 oz tomato paste
• ½ cup Aglianico
• 4 Tbsp butter
• 1 lb spaghetti

DIRECTIONS:
In a large pot over medium-high heat; brown sausages on all sides. Remove from heat; set aside. Heat oil; add onion, garlic and seasonings; sauté 5 minutes. Cut sausages into 1-inch pieces. Add sausages, tomatoes, paste, wine and butter to pot. Reduce heat; simmer 1 hour. Cook spaghetti according to directions. Serve sausage and tomato sauce over cooked spaghetti.  Enjoy with a glass of Jacuzzi Aglianico.

Jacuzzi_AglianicoJacuzzi Family Vineyards
AglianicoBold_sticker
Paso Robles, CA

Aglianico is an ancient variety that was thought to have been planted in Southern Italy in Campania and Basilicata in the seventh century B.C. The name is derived from “Hellinica” which means “Greek” providing a clue to its origins. Jacuzzi’s Aglianico is grown in a Paso Robles vineyard shadowed by Black Mountain. The vineyard receives less than 11 inches of rain per year and is influenced by cool air due to its proximity to the Pacific Ocean. The Aglianico grapes are handpicked and de-stemmed without crushing. This is a very gentle process that minimizes the pick-up of bitter components from the skins and seeds. The fermenting wine is tasted daily and once the desired tannin level is achieved the wine is pressed using our low-pressure “tank press”.charlie-tsegeletos

“Aglianico’s rich blackberry flavors are intertwined with savory notes of coffee, wild mushrooms and figs finishing with moderate tannins. It’s best with baked pastas, roasted lamb or a big sausage-topped pizza.” — Charlie Tsegeletos, winemaker

Winemaker: Charlie Tsegeletos
Appellation: Paso Robles, California
Varietal Blend:  100% Aglianico
Analysis: 13% alc/vol