For Valentine's Day, Laima got me a gift that was both traditional and clever - a wine and chocolate pairing kit from Ghirardelli Chocolate! Four types of chocolates were included, along with 2 suggested wines to pair with each chocolate. Overall, their suggestions were pretty good, but with such variation in how wines are made, some turned out better than others.
Rosé and Raspberry Dark Chocolate: We went with a dry, sparkling Rosé, which gave a nice acidic counterpoint to the luscious Raspberry Dark Chocolate. I'm usually not a fan of fruit in chocolate, but this pairing made me rethink that stance. The other suggestion for this was Port, but I demurred, feeling that the sweetness of the Port and the raspberry filling would be cloying to my taste.
Pinot Noir and 60% Cacao Dark Chocolate: We went with a lighter-bodied Pinot for this pairing, which at first seemed a bit jarring, but then grew on me. Next time I'd pair it with a heavier, more fruit forward Pinot, maybe from the Dundee Hills of Oregon. The other pairing option was Syrah - we had a heavy, earthy Syrah from Lodi that we enjoyed immensely with the dark chocolate.
Riesling and Caramel Milk Chocolate: Paired with the wrong Riesling, this would have been a sweet mess, in my opinion. We opted for a drier one, and were very happy with the results. Cream Sherry was another suggested pairing, but we don't have any in the house and didn't want to buy any for possibly a single tasting experience.
Zinfandel and Sea Salt Caramel Dark Chocolate: another lucky pairing, in that we had a deep, dark, earthy, fruit-driven Zin from Lodi to balance the salty sweetness and bite of the dark chocolate. We felt their suggestion of sparkling wine was a good pairing as well.
While you don't have to go out and buy the kit, this was a simple way to do our first Chocolate and wine pairings. The small sizes of the chocolates also kept us from gorging ourselves. While we didn't always agree with their suggestions completely, I think that has more to do with the specific wines we were pouring and not necessarily the suggested pairings themselves.
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