February. The month of love. The month of Cupid. The month of special gifts. The month of flowers. The month singles despise! However, single or taken, all can follow Plautus’ advice: “Let us celebrate the occasion with wine and sweet words!” All can revel in the occasion of St. Valentine’s Day…some may just want to rejoice with wine and sweet treats instead of sweet words. This can be done by pairing wine and chocolate…what (I believe) are two of the most important food groups in the world. Here’s how.
White Chocolate Covered Strawberries with Sparkling Wine
Strawberries and sparkling are a great pairing when the strawberries are plain. Then add white chocolate, and the pairing is even more decadent. Make sure to choose sparkling wines that are at least extra dry or dry in sweetness level. These wines have a little more sugar content to pair with the sweetness of the white chocolate. Though it is hard to find chocolate covered (white or milk) strawberries ready for purchase during this winter month, they can easily be made at home. During the summer months, Mostly Chocolates in Rapid City is the place to purchase. J Cuvee 20 Brut NV (non-vintage) sparkling is a great option; another possibility to try with slightly more sweetness is the Gia Frizzante from Francis Ford Coppola. Local wine choice: Belle Joli Estate Reserve sparkling.
White Chocolate with Moscato d’Asti
White chocolate lovers (without the fruit) need not despair if they think there is no wine pairing for their favorite chocolate. White chocolate is generally sweeter and richer than milk chocolate, and especially richer than dark chocolate. This type of chocolate pairs with the slightly effervescent and somewhat sugary Moscato d’Asti. The sweetness of the wine is just enough to match the sweetness of the chocolate. Try Saracco Moscato d’Asti or Beni di Batasiolo Moscato d’ Asti. Mostly Chocolates also has a White Satin white chocolate truffle that is to-die-for. Chubby Chipmunk Chocolates in Deadwood and Rapid have multiple delicious white chocolate choices. Local wine choice: Belle Joli Sparkling Moscato.
Sea Salt Milk Chocolate Caramels with Chardonnay
Milk chocolate plus caramel—what is the only way to improve on this sweet pairing? Add sea salt…and a Chardonnay! The new trend of sea salt caramels is brilliant for chocolate…and wine. The slight butter of a California Chardonnay is a wonderful compliment for the creaminess of the caramel. Also, the milk chocolate can match the richness of the typical chard. The salt is a slight contrast to both, tempering the butter in the wine. Choose Rutherford Ranch Napa Chardonnay or Edna Valley Vineyard Paragon Chardonnay. Custer County Candy Company in Custer does a house-made sea salt caramel that is absolutely amazing! Local wine choice: Prairie Berry Anna Pesa Chardonnay.
Cinnamon Truffles with Pinot Noir
Spicy chocolate is always a special treat. Pair a cinnamon or spiced truffle with a Sonoma or Oregon Pinot Noir. The spice and earth of the pinot is a great compliment with the spice of the chocolate. The fruitiness of the pinots from these two regions will also match the sugar of the chocolate. Select Rodney Strong Vineyards Russian River Valley Pinot Noir from Sonoma or Firesteed Oregon Pinot Noir. Mostly Chocolates and Chubby Chipmunk both make cinnamon or spiced chocolate selections throughout the year. Local wine choice: Naked Winery Dominatrix Pinot Noir.
Dark Chocolate with Zinfandel
Dark chocolate is supposed to be the healthiest of all chocolates, so it can be thought of as guilt-free…in my mind anyway. The darker the chocolate the better to pair with dry, tannic, and robust red wines like Zinfandel. Dark chocolates have natural tannins, so the pairing of these two is a compliment pairing. Leave a little chocolate on the tongue while sipping the wine to experience this ultimate pairing. Chubby Chipmunk’s Double Dark Dan truffle or Peruvian chocolate both pair well with Seghesio Zinfandel or Klinker Brick Lodi Old Vine Zinfandel. However, any dark chocolate with very high cacao percentages will pair wonderfully. Local wine choice: Prairie Berry Anna Pesa Zinfandel.
Many only see February as the month of love and couples buying expensive gifts for their lovers; however, it is a month to give special gifts to oneself, too, like wine and chocolate. Celebrate this month whether living in the single world or the couple world. Use St. Valentine’s Day as an excuse to nibble on exquisite chocolate and sip on delicious wines. It is a pairing all will love!
By Kara Sweet