Happy Hallo-WINE! Wine Costumes and Candy Pairings

skeleton Halloween

We’re so glad people have come to the conclusion that wine can pair with anything and make it more enjoyable – we couldn’t agree more! The good news is you don’t have to go blindly into the cauldron of pairing Halloween candy with wine – we’ve found the perfect info-graphic for you!

Below is a chart from VinePair that details exactly what type of wine, beer, or other alcohol you should pair with your Halloween candy (or your kid’s leftovers!) Cheers!

complete-guide-pair-candy-wine-beer-booze-infographic

Forgot to pick up a costume?

Don’t worry, there’s still time! Here are a few last-minute wine-themed costume ideas you could pull off:

wine-goddessBacchus – Roman god of wine

Drape a white sheet over yourself Toga-style, and add grape and vine embellishments as you please! Try a crown of grape leaves. Don’t forget your prop – a delicious bottle of wine!

A box of Franzia

Find a large box and cut out the bottom, then cut arm holes in the sides and a place for your head to peek out the top. Print out some Franzia labels and tape them to the box. Bonus points for adding a pour spout!

wine-snobWine snob

This is an easy one for the gentlemen. Wear a white button down shirt with a nice blazer. Add a neck scarf (ask your wife or girlfriend for help). Slick back your hair. And, carry a big glass of wine (the bigger the better!)

bubblyYour favorite bottle of wine

Go as your favorite bottle of vino! Just print off a photo of the wine’s label and tape it to the front/back of your shirt. Wear all white (if it’s a white wine), pink (for rosés), red or purple (for red wines). Bonus points for incorporating corks! Try adding a cork garland, or make a cork hat!

Stock up on Haunting Halloween wines!

halloween-wine-all

Stop by your local WineStyles store to find the right wines for your Halloween activities – whether that’s handing out candy while watching classic horror movies, hosting a costume party, or trying out some of those wine and candy pairings once the kids have hit the sack! Find your local WineStyles store here.

Eat, drink, and be scary! Happy Halloween!

dont-drink-and-fly

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Charcuterie and Wine 101

 

charcuterie and wine 101 winestyles

What’s that funny word: charcuterie?

Charcuterie (French, pronounced: shahr-koo-tuhree) is the branch of cooking devoted to prepared meat products, such as bacon, ham, sausage, terrines, galantines, ballotines, pâtés, and confit, primarily from pork. Originally intended as a way to preserve meat before the advent of refrigeration, they are prepared today for their flavors derived from the preservation processes. (Source: Wikipedia

The history of charcuterie, in the sense of salting, smoking, and cooking to preserve, may date almost to the origins of Homo sapiens. It has been carried on in many forms through virtually every culture, and it has been one of the foundations of human survival in that it allowed societies to maintain a food surplus and therefore helped turn early peoples from nomads into clusters of homebodies. Sausage recipes date to before the golden age of ancient Greece. Even before that, the Egyptians were fattening geese for their livers-and possibly making the first pate de foie gras. (Source: Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman & Brian Polcyn).

Charcuterie board

DIY Charcuterie Board

Step 1: Pick your Platter

Choose one, two, or a few! There are endless options of cheese and charcuterie boards. Have fun picking one that suits your style. Hint: check out the selection at your local WineStyles store.

Step 2: Select your Meats

When choosing charcuterie, opt for a diverse selection of tastes (smoked, tangy) and textures (hard, soft, grainy) so there will be plenty of variety.

Step 3: Add your Garnishes

Make it colorful! Add some pickles, small dishes with brightly-colored jams, olives, mustard, nuts, the options are endless!

Step 4: Slice the Bread

This main food group completes the picture. Best to stick with simple baguettes. Toast with olive oil for a gourmet touch.

Step 5: Serve with Wine!

When in doubt, stick to bubbles. Bubbly pairs great with charcuterie because the acidity will cut through the fattiness of the meats. Try a semi-sweet option to please everyone’s palates.

Wine and Beer Boot Camp Class “Charcuterie and Wine 101”

Charcuterie and Wine class

In this Wine and Beer Boot Camp class, you’ll learn the ins-and-outs of pairing charcuterie and wine – a gourmet tasting and learning experience! Attend this class so the next time you order a charcuterie board, you’ll know exactly how to enhance that experience with the perfect wine pairing. As part of our Boot Camp series in 2016, the more you LEARN the more you EARN in delicious wine tastings! Join us for multiple classes and you’ll be rewarded:

Stamper

3 STAMPS = Free Wine Tasting for 2 people

6 STAMPS = Free Wine Tasting for 4 people
8 STAMPS = Free Wine Tasting Party, up to 20 people
11 STAMPS = Boot Camp Survivor T-shirt

Please RSVP at your local WineStyles location. Seating space is limited, so make your reservation as soon as possible!

*Please note: Classes and Boot Camp rewards may vary at different WineStyles locations. See your local WineStyles Tasting Station for details. Find your local WineStyles store here.

Thanks for reading,

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July Wine Club pairing recipe

Rich, juicy notes of strawberries are complimented by more savory notes of violets and licorice, which meld with the flavors from the pork and anise in the recipe. The smooth, medium/full body of Monasterio de las Viñas Rerserva Red from Cariñena Spain matches the mouthfeel of the meat.

pork-chops-shallotsPork Chops with Shallots

INGREDIENTS:
• Four 8-ounce bone-in pork rib chops
• Salt and freshly ground pepper
• All-purpose flour, for dusting
• 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
• 4 large shallots, sliced (1 ¼ cups)
• ½ teaspoon anise seeds
• ¼ cup dry red wine
• 1 cup chicken stock
• 1 teaspoon minced garlic
• 2 teaspoons tomato paste

DIRECTIONS:
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Season the pork chops with salt and pepper and dust with flour.

In a skillet, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the pork and cook over high heat for 1 minute. Add the butter, reduce the heat to moderately high and cook, turning once, until the chops are browned on both sides, 8 minutes. Transfer the chops to a baking sheet and bake in the oven until an instant-read thermometer inserted at the thickest point registers 145°F, about 7 minutes.

Meanwhile, add the shallots and anise to the skillet and cook over low heat, stirring, until softened, about 8 minutes. Add the wine and reduce over moderately high heat to ½ cup, about 2 minutes. Add the stock and reduce by half, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and tomato paste and cook for 1 minute longer. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer the chops to plates and top with the sauce. Recipe courtesy of Food & Wine Magazine.

Bold_stickerMonaterio_Reserva_wineMonasterio de las Viñas
Reserva Red
Cariñena, Spain

In the 11th century, Cistercian monks built a monastery in the Sierra de Aguarón.  Today, this region is known for its superior quality wines. Monasterio de las Viñas celebrates the history of the land by using traditional varietals sourced entirely from Aguarón. Cariñena is one of the oldest protected growing regions in Europe, receiving D.O. status in 1932.  Vines grow in reddish-brown limestone over loose rock. A continental climate and a cold, northerly wind known as cierzo contribute to the characteristic intensity of the grapes.   Harvested from vines an average age of 30-years-old grown at an elevation of 1900-2600 feet, the grapes were aged for 12-16 months in French and American oak barrels and aged in bottle for 2 years. Pairs well with pork chops and shallots.

winemaker-marcelo-morales

Winemaker Marcelo Morales

“This wine is bright ruby-red with a garnet color change at the rim.  Aroma of strawberries, violets and licorice become ripe on the palate.  Additional notes of vanilla and wood create more complexity” – Marcelo Morales, winemaker

Winemaker: Marcelo Morales
Appellation: Cariñena, Spain
Varietal Blend:  50% Grenache, 25% Tempranillo, 25% Cariñena
Analysis:
13.5% alcohol / volume
Critical Acclaim:
International Wine & Spirits Competition 2015, Bronze. Reviewed and approved by Doug Frost, Master Sommelier and Master of Wine

Happy 4th of July Weekend!

Happy 4th

We would like to wish everyone a safe and happy holiday weekend!

May your grills be hot and your wines be true – be they Red, White, or Blue!

Grill and wineWine is officially “all-American”, now donning all colors of our beloved American flag. Have you seen the latest news in wine innovation? We’ve been hinting at it… BLUE wine! As in, Red, White, and BLUE! (We just cannot get over it.)

A Spanish wine company, Gik (pronounced “geek”) is making their wines blue by using a special quality found in grape skins combined with naturally cultivated indigo.

Gik works with grapes from different areas of Spain to make their wine blends using both red and white grapes. The company’s wineries are located mainly in La Rioja, Zaragoza and Courthèzon. In case you’re wary of the blue coloring, Gik’s website assures that quality control checks are thorough, and everything used in wine making complies with EU food regulations.

Watch this brief interview of Taig Mac Carthy, Creator at Gik Blue Wine, at the ProWein Trade Fair in Germany this March. ProWein is the world’s leading trade fair for wine professionals, hosted annually in Germany.

Taig discusses how the innovative blue wine is going over at the German wine professionals trade fair, and how its radiant blue color is made:

For curious minds, Gik has answered the question – Why blue?:

“We are not vintners. We are creators. So we sought the most traditional and closed minded industry out there. Once having selected the wine industry as our battlefield, we set about creating a radically different product, changing the color to a vibrant blue and making the wine sweeter and easier to drink.When we started to work on our project we came across a book called The Blue Ocean Strategy. This explained that there are red oceans, full of sharks which have torn the little fish so much that they’ve tinted the water red. Then there are blue oceans, where there is no competition and fish swim un-harassed. Thus the poetic idea of transforming a red ocean into a blue ocean through changing the most traditional red liquid into blue was one which greatly appealed to us.

Apart from that, in psychology blue represents movement, innovation and infinity. It’s also a color frequently associated with flow and change.” (gik.blue)

Blue Wine

Image from ProWeinTradeFair YouTube video “No red wine, no white wine, but blue wine!” Watch video below.

Before you go rushing to the store, know that Gik’s radiant blue wine is not yet available in the US. Until we are able to raise our glasses of Red, White, and Blue, we send our support from afar.The WineStyles concept shares Gik’s goal of demystifying the wine world for our customers. After all, wine tasting can (and should) be fun! And if you ask us, the more colorful, the better! #GikBlueWine

July Wine & Beer Boot Camp – Wines for Summer Grilling 

WineSummerGrill

We know you’ll be out and about grilling, drinking wine and beer, and having a grand ‘ol time this 4th of July weekend celebrating America (and we support you in that endeavor!)

For further summer grilling and wine pairing preparation, join your local WineStyles for the next Wine and Beer Boot Camp Class, Wines for Summer Grilling! It will be a delicious event and the perfect complement to your summer grilling routine.
In this class, you will learn how to pair wines with your favorite grilling items, and of course the best part of learning is the tasting!  As part of our Boot Camp series in 2016, the more you LEARN the more you EARN in delicious wine tastings! Join us for multiple classes and you’ll be rewarded:
Stamper
3 STAMPS = Free Wine Tasting for 2 people
6 STAMPS = Free Wine Tasting for 4 people
8 STAMPS = Free Wine Tasting Party, up to 20 people
11 STAMPS = Boot Camp Survivor T-shirt

Please RSVP at your local WineStyles location. Seating space is limited, so make your reservation as soon as possible!

*Please note: Classes and Boot Camp rewards may vary at different WineStyles locations. Offer void where prohibited by state or local alcohol laws. See your local WineStyles Tasting Station for details. Find your local WineStyles store here.

Thanks for reading, cheers!

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Lemongrass BBQ Pork with Rice-Vermicelli Salad

Lemongrass-Barbecued-Pork-with-Rice-Vermicelli-SaladMARINADE  INGREDIENTS:
•  4 large garlic cloves, thickly sliced
• 3 large stalks of fresh lemongrass, tender inner white bulb only, sliced crosswise
•  2 large shallots, thickly sliced
•  1 ¼ tablespoon sugar
•  3 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
•  2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
•  3 tablespoons vegetable oil
•  2 tablespoons soy sauce
•  1 ¼ pounds boneless pork loin, sliced ½ inch thick

VERMICELLI SALAD INGREDIENTS:
• ¼ pound rice vermicelli noodles
•  4 medium garlic cloves, quartered
•  3 tablespoons sugar
•  3 Thai chiles or 1 large jalapeño, thickly sliced
•  ½ cup Asian fish sauce
•  ¼ cup finely chopped cilantro
•  ¼ cup finely chopped mint
•  ½ cup fresh lime juice
•  1/3 cup water
•  2 large cucumbers, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded and thinly sliced crosswise
•  carrot and daikon pickles, for serving

DIRECTIONS:
In a food processor, finely chop the garlic, lemongrass and shallots.  Add the sugar, fish sauce, lime juice, vegetable oil and soy sauce and process to a paste.  In a large shallow dish, coat the pork with marinade.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

In a large bowl, cover the rice vermicelli with cold water and let soak until pliable, about 20 minutes.

In a mortar, using a pestle, pound the garlic cloves to a paste with the chilies and sugar.  Stir in the fish sauce, cilantro, mint, lime juice and water.

Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil over high heat. Drain the rice vermicelli and add it to the boiling water.  Cook, stirring, until barely tender, about 1 minute.  Drain the vermicelli.  Rinse the vermicelli in cold water and drain thoroughly.  Transfer the vermicelli to a large bowl, add the cilantro-and-mint dressing and toss well. Scatter the sliced cucumbers over the rice-vermicelli salad.

Light a barbecue or grill and cook the pork until nicely charred, about 2 minutes per side.  Transfer the pork to plates and serve with the rice-vermicelli salad and carrot and daikon pickles.   Recipe courtesy of Marcia Kiesel of Food and Wine.

JBW-Water-Riesling-High-Res-Bottle-ShotcrispJim Barry
Watervale Riesling
Clare Valley, South Australia

Jim Barry Wines is a family winery based in the Clare Valley of South Australia. Jim Barry was the 17th qualified winemaker in Australia and founded the company in 1959 with his wife Nancy. The company is now owned and managed by Peter Barry, a second generation family winemaker. Following  the legacy of his father and grandfather, Tom Barry was named ‘Young Winemaker of the Year’ in 2013. The tiny village of Watervale (population 246), nestled in South Australia’s Clare Valley, is renowned for the quality of its Riesling.  The grapes for the Riesling are picked from a special part of the Florita vineyard in Watervale.  This famous Riesling vineyard usually achieves full ripeness, with high natural acid levels.

Tom Barry, winemaker

Tom Barry, winemaker

“This wine is brilliant pale yellow in appearance.  On the nose is creaming soda, musk, fresh honeydew melon, lemon tart and bath salts.  The palate delivers ginger, mouth-watering juiciness, crisp granny smith apple like acidity. Generous lime fruit and a touch of fine talc phenolics which lifts the creaminess.”” –  Tom Barry, winemaker

silverstarWinemaker: Tom Barry
Appellation: Clare Valley, South Australia
Varietal Blend:  100% Riesling
Analysis: 12.5% alcohol / volume, 3.0 pH / 7.4 TA g/L
Critical Acclaim: SILVER status by Doug Frost, Master Sommelier and Master of Wine

 

May Wine Club pairing recipe

BBQ-Flank-SteakBBQ Flank Steak with Burnt Cabbage and Oyster Mayo

STEAK INGREDIENTS:
• 2.2 lb (1 kg) flank steak
• 3.5 oz. (100ml) fish sauce
• 3.5 oz. (100ml) light soy sauce
• 2 garlic cloves. microplaned
• 1 knob ginger, microplaned
• 3.5 oz. (100ml) grapeseed oil
CABBAGE SALAD INGREDIENTS:
• 1/2 cabbage, cut into 4, stem left on
•  1.5 oz. (50g) oyster mushrooms
•  1.5 oz. (50g) enoki mushrooms
•  1.5 oz. (50g) shiitake mushrooms, finely sliced
•  2 radishes, finely sliced
•  shiso cress
•  1.5 oz. (50ml) light soy sauce
•  1 lime, juiced
•  1 tsp miso paste
• 1 tsp sesame oil
• 3.5 oz. (100ml) grapeseed oil
OYSTER MAYONNAISE INGREDIENTS:
• 4 oysters shucked
• 2 egg yolks
• 1 tsp Dijon mustard
• 5 oz. (150ml)grapeseed oil
• sea salt
DIRECTIONS:
Marinate the steak in the fish sauce, soy, garlic, ginger & oil for 2 hours.   To make the burnt cabbage salad, place a frying pan on high heat with a little oil. Add the cabbage wedges and cook evenly on all sides until the cabbage is soft and quite blackened. Remove and place onto absorbent paper towel until cool.  In the same pan, quickly fry the oyster mushrooms for 1 minute, remove and allow to cool. Make the vinaigrette by whisking the light soy, lime juice, miso paste, sesame oil and grapeseed oil together.

To make the oyster mayo, in a blender add the oysters, egg yolks and Dijon. With the motor running slowly add the grapeseed oil to emulsify, season and reserve in the fridge for later use.  Remove the flank from the fridge at least 30 minutes prior to cooking, heat your BBQ until it is very hot. Add the flank and cook for approximately 6 minutes on both sides or done to your liking. Remove and allow to rest in a warm spot.

To serve, roughly chop the cabbage length ways and add this to a large bowl, add the mushrooms, radish and vinaigrette and toss well. Place a mound of the salad to one side of your serving dish, slice the beef evenly and place this next to the salad, spoon a dollop of the mayo next to this and garnish with the shiso cress.  Courtesy of Vasse Felix Restaurant.

VF-Filius-Cab-Sauv-Bottle-ShotBold_stickerVasse Felix
Filius Cabernet Sauvignon
Margaret River, Australia

Vasse Felix was established in 1967 by pioneer Dr. Thomas Cullity and is the founding wine estate of Margaret River. Margaret River experiences the unique combination of a Mediterranean climate, maritime influence and perfect soils for organic and sustainable viticulture. ‘Filius’ translates to ‘son of’ in Latin, reflecting the relationship between this wine and the Vasse Felix Cabernet Sauvignon; the estate’s most historic red wine. Filius is a more approachable, opulent interpretation of Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon, a style renowned for its elegance and power. All fruit parcels were vinified and matured individually before grading post maturation to create a regional expression of the vintage.

virginia-willcock“An intense nose of blackcurrant and black cherry fruit, with complimentary coffee and chocolate aromas. These above earthy hints of sage, bay leaf, mushroom, truffle and venison. A juicy and fine up-front palate with dark cherry succulence and a savory dark chocolate sensation, akin to black forest cake. Vibrant fruit is carried with the bright acidity and attractive tannins building to the dry finish with lingering perfume remaining” – Virginia Willcock, winemaker

silverstarWinemaker: Virginia Willcok
Appellation: Margaret River, Australia
Varietal Blend:  85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Malbec, 2% Petite Verdot
Analysis: 14.5% alcohol / volume, 3.52 pH / 6.8 TA g/L
Critical Acclaim: SILVER status by Doug Frost, Master Sommelier and Master of Wine

 

Wine-Club-LogoJoin our Wine Club this month and receive two SILVER STAR rated wines and pairing recipes!

Each month you’ll be introduced to new and different wines from around the world, from various appellations, varietals and wine styles. Plus, you’ll enjoy all the perks that comes with membership, including 10% off wine purchases and 15% off additional purchases of wine club wines.

Premium Wine Club pairing recipe

grilled-lamb-burgersGrilled Spicy Lamb Burgers

•  1 pound ground lamb
•  1 tablespoon garlic, chopped
•  1 teaspoon sherry
•  1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
•  1 teaspoon molasses
•  1 teaspoon ground cumin
•  ½ teaspoon ground allspice
•  ¼ teaspoon salt
•  2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
•  2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
•  2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
•  ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
•  4 pita bread rounds (or burger buns)
•  4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

DIRECTIONS:
Preheat grill for medium heat.  Place the lamb in a large bowl, and mix with the mint, cilantro, oregano, garlic, sherry, vinegar, and molasses. Season with cumin, allspice, red pepper flakes, salt, and black pepper, and mix well. Shape into 4 patties.

Brush grill grate with oil. Grill burgers 5 minutes on each side, or until well done. Heat the pita pocket briefly on the grill. Serve burgers wrapped in pitas with feta cheese.  Recipe courtesy of AllRecipes.com

Bold_stickerstolpman-wine-petite-sirahStolpman Vineyards
Petite Sirah
Ballard Canyon AVA
Santa Ynez Valley, California

Over 20 years ago, founder Thomas Stolpman, discovered what he believed to be one of the greatest viticultural sites on earth. Hidden in the hills of California’s Central Coast, on a rare limestone outcropping and unobstructed from the Pacific Ocean wind, this unique land is naturally suited to grow Syrah and Roussanne grapes. The largest vineyard in the AVA, Stolpman Vineyards is considered the founding vineyard of the Ballard Canyon. The inky, black wine complements the bold flavors of BBQ perfectly. This wine stands up to a wide range of grilled meats, from lamb chops to classic BBQ dishes like ribs and brisket.

Sashi Moorman, winemaker

Sashi Moorman, winemaker

Petite Sirah can often drink so big and ripe the wine becomes monolithic.  Not so with this cooler vintage Petite Sirah.  The nose shows glints of creosote and black pepper.Thanks to de-stemming all of the clusters, the body is lush and forgiving on the finish.  Even more unctuous and seamless after two years in neutral barrel, our Syrah fans will appreciate the Petite Sirah.  This Petite Sirah might be the top pick out of the current releases for grilled steak.” – Sashi Moorman, winemaker

Winemaker: Sashi Moorman
Appellation: Santa Ynez Valley, Ballard Canyon AVA, California
Varietal Blend:  100% Petite Sirah
Analysis: 14.5% alcohol / volume, 3.81 pH, 6.6 TA g/L
Critical Acclaim: Reviewed and approved by Doug Frost, Master Sommelier and Master of Wine

Wine-Club-LogoJoin our Premium “Enjoy” Wine Club this month and receive two delicious wines from Stolpman and pairing recipes!

Every other month, you’ll receive two bottles of “If You Insist” premium wines that you’ll truly adore. These wines are top scoring or limited releases that you will thoroughly ENJOY or impress your friends!  Plus, you’ll enjoy 10% off wine purchases and 15% off additional purchases of wine club wines.

 

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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February Wine Club pairing recipe

moroccan chicken tagineJacqueline’s Moroccan Chicken

Inspired by North African tagines.
INGREDIENTS:

• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 2 lbs skinless, boneless chicken thighs
• 1 large thinly sliced yellow onion
• 3 medium carrots, sliced, 3 inch spears
• 1  tablespoon  fresh ginger, peeled and minced
• 1  teaspoon  cumin
• ¼  teaspoon  salt
• ¼  teaspoon  coriander
• ¼  teaspoon  cinnamon
• ¼ teaspoon  fresh ground black pepper
• 4  garlic cloves, minced
• 1 ¼ cups  chicken broth
• 1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
• 7 ounces dried apricots, halved

DIRECTIONS:Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven or saucepan over medium-high heat. Add half of chicken to pan, browning on all sides (about 5 minutes). Remove chicken from pan. Repeat with remaining chicken.

Add onion to pan; sauté for 3 minutes or until tender. Add ginger, cumin, salt, coriander, cinnamon, pepper and garlic; sauté for 30 seconds or until fragrant. Stir in broth, scraping pan to deglaze. Return chicken to pan and simmer covered 1 hour or until tender.

Remove chicken using a slotted spoon; cool slightly then cut into bite-sized pieces and return to pan. Add chickpeas and apricots, then cover and simmer 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with preserved lemon slices and serve over couscous or rice. Serves 6.

PRESERVED LEMONS:
• 2 wide-mouth pint jam jars
• 10  lemons
• Coarse sea salt

Sterilize jam jars in your dishwasher set on hot. Wash and dry lemons and sterilized jars.  Cut 6 lemons lengthwise into quarters without cutting through the bottom.  Remove seeds. Pour coarse sea salt into the cut lemons, making sure all the sides/quarters are coated. Place 2-3 lemons in each jar, or as many will fit. Squeeze juice from remaining lemons to jars, covering fruit. Close lids tightly and refrigerate for at least 3 weeks, shaking occasionally. Rinse lemons before using. Recipe courtesy of Cline Cellars.

Cline_SingleVineyard_LosCarneros_Estate_SyrahBold_stickerCline Family Cellars
Estate Grown
Syrah Single Vineyard
Los Carneros, CA

A family-owned vineyard and winery in the beautiful Carneros regions of Sonoma County, California, Cline Cellars is situated on a historic 350-acre estate with sustainable farming.  Los Carneros is their finest Syrah offering. Grapes come from their 18-acre hillside estate vineyard in Sonoma’s Carneros district. Fog and afternoon winds from the nearby Pacific Ocean and San Pablo Bay cool the growing region, allowing the grapes to develop intense flavors. Grapes were handpicked and destemmed without being crushed. Enjoy this wine with big, spicy foods with plenty of zip, such as Blackened Ahi. 

charlie-tsegeletos

Winemaker, Charlie Tsegeletos

“This is our flavor-intense Syrah and is one of the most concentrated wines that we make at Cline Cellars.  The combination of tannin, acid, fruit and great mouth feel come together to created a big, well balanced wine” – Charlie Tsegeletos, winemaker.

Winemaker: Charlie Tsegeletos
Appellation: Los Carneros, California
Varietal Blend: 100% Syrah
Analysis:
14% alcohol / volume
Critical Acclaim:
Reviewed and approved by Doug Frost, Master Sommelier and Master of Wine.

Zinfandel Wine Cupcakes

zinfandel-wine-cupcakesINGREDIENTS:
• 1 box Betty Crocker™ SuperMoist™ devil’s food cake mix
• ¾ cup water
• ¼ cup Zinfandel wine
• 1/3 cup vegetable oil
• 3 eggs
• 1 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
FROSTING:
•  6 cups powdered sugar
•  1/3 cup butter, softened
•  1/3 cup unsweetened baking cocoa
•  1/8 teaspoon salt
•  ¼ cup Zinfandel wine
GARNISH:
• Chocolate curls and/or Valentine candies

DIRECTIONS:Heat oven to 350°F (325°F for dark or nonstick pan). Place paper baking cup in each of 24 regular-size muffin cups. Make cake batter as directed on box, using cake mix, water,  ¼ cup wine, oil and eggs. Stir in chocolate chips. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups (about two-thirds full).
Bake 20 to 22 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes; remove from pans to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.
In large bowl, beat powdered sugar, butter, cocoa and salt with electric mixer on low speed until blended. Beat in ¼ cup wine. If frosting is too thick, beat in more wine a few drops at a time. Frost cupcakes. Garnish with chocolate curls and /or Valentine candies.
24 servings. Recipe courtesy of Betty Crocker.

Cline_Sonoma_ZinfandelBold_stickerCline Family Cellars
Zinfandel
Sonoma County, CA

Occupying 50 acres in the heart of Sonoma Valley, the Indian Springs Vineyard produces the grapes for Cline Cellars Sonoma Zinfandel. The vineyard sits on the west side of the Valley of the Moon, near Kenwood, California, and the vines are currently being converted from trellis to head-training and are lightly irrigated. This region of central Sonoma County is known for its rich, loamy soil, and the resulting fruit has big berry flavors and firm tannins. Individual lots of fruit for this Zinfandel were harvested separately according to ripeness and balance of acidity. This wine pairs well with pork shoulder, roasted root vegetables, or red curry chicken.

charlie-tsegeletos

Winemaker, Charlie Tsegeletos

“This Sonoma Zinfandel shows concentrated spicy strawberry, firm tannin structure and a balanced acidity. It has a mouth coating richness and depth and a subtle vanilla quality that compliments the dark fruit flavors.” – Charlie Tsegeletos, winemaker

Winemaker: Charlie Tsegeletos
Appellation: Sonoma County, CA
Varietal Blend:  100% Zinfandel
Analysis:
16.0% alcohol / volume, 3.85 pH
Critical Acclaim:
Reviewed and approved by Doug Frost, Master Sommelier and Master of Wine