Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Wine + chocolate

Happy Valentines Eve! Hopefully, your Valentines plans don't look like mine from a couple years ago:

Bud Light doesn't really go with an entire box of chocolates and When Harry Met Sally (although it does wash down the saltiness of tears beautifully). We want wine for that (salt is great at enhancing flavor in wines, unless they have high alcohol, which it will make taste bitter)! Here's a little advice for planning a sexy dessert for two. Or twenty. Or I AM A STRONG INDEPENDENT WOMAN AND I AM FUCKING FINE ALONE, OK?!

First of all: Champagne and chocolate, actually not such a great idea. Champagne tends to be very dry, and when pairing wines, you need the wine to be sweeter than the food. This doesn't mean cloyingly sweet. In fact, many wines with plenty of acidity also have plenty of sweetness. But like approximately 100% of Champagnes don't fall into that category. Have Champagne before dinner or obligatory oral sex to stimulate your appetite.

Second: you wouldn't serve a dish without tasting it first, right? I mean, I don't even eat a whole chocolate without biting into a bunch before. Exhibit A:

So try a few wines with your dessert if at all possible. Maybe each chocolate in the box needs a different bottle! Maybe you should have someone take your cell phone before you start drunk dialing! Maybe I'm afraid of my own heart.

Third: Dark chocolate is great with red wine. It's not too sweet, and if you can find a rich Malbec or Syrah with cocoa notes, you're halfway to heaven. The only drawback is, like red wine, dark chocolate has tannins. That's what makes both of them so good for you (unlike that bitch who cheated on you. She had no tannins. None whatsoever. You're better off without her). But tannins + tannins = dry mouth, which is no good for making out or screaming along to Alanis Morissette. Luckily, tannins can be cut with fat. Try dark chocolate ganache truffles or, better yet, this killer dark chocolate mousse

Fourth: Chocolate and fruit. Oh, getting tricky, are we? Just FYI, chocolate covered strawberries, while delicious and sultry to look at, are INCREDIBLY UNSEXY TO EAT. Seriously, have you ever tried to eat these without getting chocolate and strawberry all up in your teeth, a chunk of chocolate on the floor, or your mouth too full to speak? Not possible. But if you've got some small-ish strawberries or another chocolate/fruit combo on the menu, just take care in selecting your wine. A tart fruit like strawberries or oranges will require a high-acid wine that can stand up to them, that is still sweeter than the chocolate. This seems counterintuitive, but sweetness is often used to balance acid, so what you're really looking for is a balanced wine. For chocolate with bananas, ripe mangos, or another sweet fruit, just stick with the rule that the wine should be sweeter than the food. A port is probably your best bet here.

Bonus: Once you follow these rules (and the main one is really just make sure the wine is sweeter than the food), impress your date/self even more by finding a wine with the flavors also found in the dessert. Sure, you might have to try every chocolate in the box to make that happened, but totally do that, it'll be awesome! Happy V-day, all!

Suggested wines:

Zaca Mesa 2008 Syrah
Terrazas de los Andres 2009 Malbec "Reserve"
Taylor Fladgate 2007 Late Bottled Vintage Port
Cocobon 2011 Red Table Wine

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