If you’re planning a special Valentine’s Day at home this year, impress your sweetheart by pairing wine with everyone’s favorite sweet treat – chocolate! To help you prepare for this most romantic of all holidays, here are seven wine and chocolate pairings to enjoy with your darling.
Kendall-Jackson Wine and Chocolate Pairings
I’m fond of Kendall-Jackson wines for several reasons. I like them because their classic wines are reliable, consistent in flavor from year to year, and readily available to consumers in grocery stores and wine shops. But a visit to their winery in Sonoma County (another story for another time) can yield some interesting and unique wines as well.
Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay 2019
If your lover prefers white wine, I recommend the Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay. Priced at $17 or less per bottle, this chardonnay offers a good value while delivering a traditional California styled chardonnay. Plus, it’s easy to find at your grocery store or wine shop.
With notes of creamy vanilla, honey, and hints of toasted oak, sweet white chocolate pairs well with the flavors of this mildly buttery white wine. These divinity puffs from See’s Candies work perfectly for this pairing.
Vintner’s Reserve Rosé 2019
Another favorite for Valentine’s Day, not just because of its pretty pale pink color, is the Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Rosé. Priced at $17, this one is also easily found at many stores.
Aromas of hibiscus, apricot, and fresh cut watermelon meet notes of crisp grapefruit and hibiscus. Normally I would pair this lovely wine with a charcuterie board to be enjoyed on a sunny Sunday afternoon. But for Valentine’s Day, we’re pairing it with raspberry-infused dark chocolates from See’s Candies and Ginger Elizabeth Chocolates. Dark chocolate with hazelnut is another good option.
Jackson Estate Anderson Valley Pinot Noir 2017
The Pinot Noir varietal became a favorite of mine over the past year. Always a good food wine, I find it marries well with Thai food, pasta, chicken and just about anything. But it also pairs well with chocolate!
Kendall-Jackson’s Jackson Estate Anderson Valley Pinot Noir 2017, priced at $40, is one of the top choices for this Valentine’s Day. Purchase online or in-person at the winery, or some higher-end wine shops may carry this Pinot.
The creamy texture of the wine’s caramel flavors and silky tannins pair harmoniously with rich chocolate caramel. 3D Candies, a family-owned operation right here in my hometown of Sacramento, makes the perfect chocolate covered caramel candy for this occasion.
Jackson Estate Hawkeye Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 2017
And last of the Kendall-Jackson recommendations is the Jackson Estate Hawkeye Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 2017. Priced at $65, this wine can be ordered online or purchased in person at the winery. We’ll drink a glass of this with our rib-eye steak and then pair it with chocolate to cap off the evening.
It features dark fruit flavors of cherry, cassis and red currant. Elegantly muscular with soft, chewy tannins, this wine pairs well with non-sweet dark chocolate and cherry-infused dark chocolate. The bitterness from the cacao accentuates the wine’s tannins, creating a match made in heaven.
International Wine and Chocolate Pairings
Prefer to try something international? I have a wine cellar full of wines from my travels, and I love to wander through it. And when it’s time to break one of the bottles open, drinking the wine helps me remember where and when I purchased it, bringing back many happy memories.
But we can’t all traipse downstairs to my wine cellar, so I chose three wines that are easily found online, at Total Wine, or possibly in your gourmet grocery store. So, join me as we travel to three different countries with these three choices:
Palliser Estate Pinot Noir 2018
Hailing from Martinborough, New Zealand, Palliser Estate Pinot Noir 2018 offers an excellent option for sampling international wine with your partner. Palliser Estate is one of my favorite wineries in the tiny wine village of Martinborough, but I did not bring this one back with me. Available at Total Wine for $35, I simply ordered it via curbside pickup.
Fresh and delicate, with cranberry and strawberry flavors, this wine makes for easy drinking with cedar, herb, and cream soda notes rounding out the edges and showing a thread of acidity. Because this wine is a little lighter with fresh fruit flavors, I’m pairing it with chocolate-covered strawberries. Simply delicious!
Santa Carolina Reserva Carmenere 2016
I love a Carmenere for its earthy flavors. And Santa Carolina’s Reserva Carmenere Cachapoal Estate 2016 delivers those flavors along with spicy berry and floral plum aromas. Awarded Wine Enthusiast’s 2015 New World Winery of the Year, Santa Carolina is actually one of the oldest wineries in Chile. This one found its way into my grocery cart at Nugget, a Northern California gourmet grocery store. At just $19, this Carmenere is delicious and a good value. Dark chocolate with nuts pairs best with this wine. And for the right chocolate, we turn again to our friends at 3D Candies for their dark chocolate and roasted nuts.
L’Conti Blanquette de Limouge NV
And finally, what would a Valentine’s Day celebration be without sparkling wine? For our sparkling option, we turn to the Limoux area of France. L’Conti Blanquette de Limouge made in the Methode Traditionnelle is toasty, creamy, fruity, and extra bubbly. Priced at just $20, you can afford to splurge on some extra decadent chocolate. The Wine-Searcher app reveals five shippers that sell this delicious and unique French brut sparkling wine.
Pairing sparkling wine with chocolate can be tricky. Milk chocolate is the most versatile option for sparkling wine. Milk chocolate contains higher sugar levels and lower tannin levels than its dark chocolate cousins, thereby ensuring your pairing will work with sweeter and dryer wines.
Happy Valentine’s Day
I wish you a lovely Valentine’s Day. And who knows, maybe your wine and chocolate pairing will be such a hit, it becomes your annual tradition! To love, wine, and chocolate!