As Valentine’s Day approaches, you’re probably thinking about how you want to celebrate.
Sure, there’s the usual—such as dinner for two or a weekend getaway—but how about trying something different? Hosting a wine and chocolate tasting party is a great idea for a small group of friends, couples’ night, or single ladies get-together. After all, what’s more celebratory than wine or champagne, and chocolate?
Before you get started, however, there are a few basic “rules” to keep in mind.
- First, your wine should be as sweet as, or sweeter than, the chocolate you are serving with it; otherwise, you can end up with a bitter or sour taste. That doesn’t mean you must serve sweet wines. Many chocolates offer a dark or rich cocoa flavor without excess sugars. Just pay attention to the ways in which you match flavors. For example, you’ll want to pair lighter chocolates with lighter and sweeter wines. Full-bodied wines should be paired with darker chocolates.
- As with all wine tasting, begin with the lightest pairings and end with the darkest. In between tastings, offer guests a palette cleanser, such as small bread cubes or oyster crackers, before moving on to the next match-up.
- Remember, the quality of your wines and chocolates should be good. Gourmet chocolate bars are readily available at many retailers, and you can break them up into bite-sized pieces for tasting. To add an extra layer of flavor, offer variations of the chocolate—such as nut-filled, fruit-filled, and caramel or peanut butter-filled.
Need help getting started? Try these perfect pairings:
- Moscato with white chocolate
- White Zinfandel with white chocolate
- Riesling or Pinot Noir with milk chocolate
- Champagne with milk chocolate
- Tawny Port with dark chocolate
- Shiraz or Merlot with dark chocolate
- Dessert wine with fruit-filled milk chocolates
As you’re tasting the two elements together, follow these steps for an enhanced experience:
- Swirl your glass of wine to oxygenate it and open up the flavor.
- Sniff the wine for its bouquet. Remember, about 70 percent of what we think we “taste” actually comes from what we smell!
- Take a sip of wine.
- Bite a piece of chocolate, and hold it on the tongue.
- When the chocolate begins to dissolve, take another sip of wine.
- Let the chocolate & wine mingle together in your mouth before swallowing.
Once you’ve completed your basic tasting, you can serve more substantial desserts as well. Include chocolate treats such as Chocolate Truffle Cake Pops, Chocolate Marble Fudge, chocolate truffles, brownies or—everyone’s favorite Valentine goodie—chocolate-dipped strawberries. With these tips and some awesome ingredients, you’ll be on your way to a super sweet Valentine’s Day celebration!