Whatever you’re planning this Valentine’s Day, we’re sure chocolate will be involved in some way, shape or form. We spoke to sommeliers and wine managers about interesting wine matches for pairing with chocolate on the romantic holiday. Peruse the suggestions, perhaps there’s a new or intriguing pairing you can try this Valentine’s Day.
South France’s sweet wine, Banyuls, was a favorite among sommeliers, including Bobby Stuckey MS, owner Frasca Food and Wine, CO, USA. “One thing that is often overlooked is Banyuls. It’s a fortified wine made in the style of Port, but out of old vine Grenache,” he said. Bobby’s top recommendation is Domaine La Tour Vielle 2013 Banyuls ‘Rimage’, Roussillon, France, which is currently being poured by the glass at Frasca.
Kara Maisano, head sommelier Masani Italian Dining & Terrace, Melbourne, Australia, is another fan, recommending Banyuls by Domaine Madeloc. Other sweet red wine suggestions are Recioto della Valpolicella from Tommasi, Malmsey 15 year old from Blandy’s, and Vintage or LBV Port from Fonseca.
Sweet white wines in the form of La Pigeade’s Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise, Royal Tokaji Wine Co. Aszu, Vendage Tardive Pinot Gris from Marcel Deiss, Carlo Pellegrino’s Passito di Pantelleria, Contini’s Vernaccia di Oristano from picturesque Sardegna, are also her top selections when you’re craving a wine and chocolate combination.
Head sommelier at Rebelle on the Bowery, NYC, Kimberly Prokoshyn recommends Madeira, “Its caramelized nuttiness highlights the softer side of chocolate,” she says.
Wine with rich, balanced textures in the form of late harvest Zinfandel can also be a great option, comments Prokoshyn, “Not as common to find, but is awesome with fruity chocolate desserts,” she adds.
Dark chocolate fans can relish in the prospect of a delightful Brachetto D'Acqui as a match made in heaven.
“I love Brachetto d’Acqui - soft bubbles, aromatic with perfume, perfect with dark chocolate,” says Bobby, proposing Marenco Pineto 2015 Brachetto D'Acqui DOCG, Italy.
Michael Sager (owner and wine director Sager and Wilde, London) can’t get enough of Pinot Noir, suggesting Domaine de la Côte, however, alternatively, “I love northern Rhône Syrah, such as Domaine Auguste Clape Côtes du Rhône, with dark high end chocolate. The pepper aroma just gets me every single time,” he says.
Other great matches for dark chocolate include Pedro Ximénez Sherry, says Prokoshyn, “A sweet, molasses-like sherry with fig undertones [is] great for dark chocolate,” she comments.
An alternative to wine might be a rich Stout, Brandy, such as Cognac, or an espresso martini, advocates Kara.