Valentine’s Day palate- Indulge in a little wine and chocolate

Since the time of the Aztecs, chocolate has been said to have amorous properties. Wine, too, has long been associated with romance and it is best summed up in the words of 17th century English playwright, Ben Jonson , “Wine is the milk of Venus”.

What better way, then, to satisfy the Valentine’s Day palate than to indulge in a little of both? Pairing wine with chocolate is a culinary delight that has been gaining attention in recent years. And all it takes to make it work is a little know-how and a sense of adventure.

An US wine shop owner ,Sherry Etes, suggests that a lot of people don’t really think about pairing the two, but it can be great fun. There are actually a lot of different wines that pair well with chocolate. Generally, wines that are a little more “fruit forward” make the best partners with chocolate.

Champagnes also pair well with chocolate. Try dark chocolate with a brut champagne, and a lighter (maybe even white) chocolate with a sweeter bubbly. Be careful, though, not to go too sweet.

Balancing act

Balance is important when pairing wine with chocolate, said Julie Waterman, owner of Indulgence Chocolatiers in Waukesha.

“You want to either complement or contrast the flavors in the two,” said Waterman, who specializes in artisan, (Belgian chocolates).

Overall, dark chocolate tends to pair better with wine than milk chocolate, Waterman said.

“Milk chocolate tends to have too many tannins, which can create a clash with the wine.”

That doesn’t mean, however, that people who prefer sweeter chocolate won’t have success in pairing wine with chocolate, she said. Chocolate doesn’t have to be super dark, bitter sweet to be considered dark, Waterman explained. Lighter, very creamy varieties of dark chocolate are available.

A good general rule-of-thumb is to choose a chocolate with 50 percent, or higher, cacao content. Such semisweet chocolates usually pair well with wine, she said.

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