THE SWEETER THE CHOCOLATE, THE SWEETER THE WINE.
Did you know that more chocolate is eaten worldwide during the week of Valentine’s Day than the rest of the year combined? Ok, we may have made that statistic up. Still, the chances are that you and your special someone will have a nibble of chocolate around Valentine's day, so we prepared your annual refresher on what wines pair fantastically well with chocolate. If you're not a chocoholic, these wines will work well with food or by themselves, in a glass.
Before we get into the recommendations, we should remind you that the sweeter the chocolate, the sweeter the wine will need to be to pair nicely. Due to the relative scarcity of sweet wines, we recommend picking quality dark chocolate with a high percentage of cacao to give yourself a broader selection of wines for pairing. Finally, don't sweat it if you have anxiety about making the perfect pairing. Just remember, there will be chocolate and wine; rarely do things go wrong when these two ingredients are involved.
#1 New World Merlots: Merlot, especially those from the New World, think California, Australia, etc., tend to produce wines that have lush with soft velvety tannins with indulgent, sweet fruit flavor. These fruity flavors help balance the bitterness of some dark chocolates and gives the pairing a touch of decadence. To take it up a notch, look for a merlot aged in new American oak barrels to add a touch of vanilla to the mix.
#2 Amarone Della Valpolicella DOCG: An Italian wine made primarily from the Corvina and Rondinella grapes from the area of, not surprisingly, if you speak Italian, Valpolicella. To make Amarone Della Valpolicella, fermentation of the harvested grapes must not start before December 1st of the harvest year. The result of the wait means that the ripe grapes will dry out and shrivel during the post-harvest wait, concentrating the sugars and flavors. This process helps create a wine that is ripe, syrupy, fruity wine that will beg for some dusty dark chocolate to reign in its power. If you're looking to add a touch of hedonism to your night, look no further than Amarone Della Valpolicella.
#3 Zinfandel: No, we're not talking the sweet pink White Zinfandel of yesteryear. We're talking the big, bold boozy Zinfandels from ripe grapes. Like Merlot, the New World versions of this wine can be ripe and sweet, often topping 15% alcohol by volume. The secret to pairing Zinfandel with chocolate is to leverage Zinfandel's jammy, almost stewed fruit flavors to play along with fruit or nut flavored chocolate. Again like Merlot, aging in American oak barrels will add a kiss of vanilla.
There you have it, three wines that will sweeten your Valentine's day this year. As always, you can never go wrong drinking a bottle of your favorite purified wine because the only rule in choosing a wine, is thou shall pick a wine you will actually drink.
Happy Valentine's day to you and yours, and we hope you'll be Üllo’s Valentine for years to come!