Pairing Wine And Chocolate Valentine's Day is upon us, and many will be celebrating with a bit of bubbly and chocolate. Callie Crossley, author of the blog The Crushed Grape Report, talks about which wines and chocolates go well together.
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Pairing Wine And Chocolate

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Pairing Wine And Chocolate

Pairing Wine And Chocolate

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I'm Michel Martin, and this is Tell Me More from NPR News. Coming up, get ready to snap your fingers and clap your hands for some words of passion. We have the first Tell Me More Valentine love poetry slam That's coming up.

You did know Valentine's Day is almost upon us. You did not forget, did you? Now, we didn't because we know that many couples will be thinking about romance, perhaps getting their loved ones a nice box of chocolates or cracking open a nice bottle of wine. Hey, here's an idea. How about putting them together?

Glad I thought of it, or rather I'm glad I called our wine maven, Callie Crossley. She's back with us to talk about wines that go well with chocolate. She's the author of the wine blog, The Crushed Grape Report, and she joins us now from member station WGBH in Boston. Hi, Callie. Welcome back.

Ms. CALLIE CROSSLEY (Wine Expert): Hello, Michel.

MARTIN: Great minds think alike.

Ms. CROSSLEY: That's right.

MARTIN: That's right, chocolate and wine. So not all chocolate is alike, and I bet people have different preferences whether they like light or dark. So, why don't we start with wine that goes with dark chocolate, which is my particular favorite.

Ms. CROSSLEY: I think it's important to say that whatever you like to drink it with, fine. It's OK. You know, it's really about your palate. And I also want to point out that this discussion - white wines, red wines, dry wines or sparkling wines that go with chocolate is a bigger fight than the West and East Coast rappers among some wine experts, so just that you know.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTIN: I didn't know that.

Ms. CROSSLEY: There are people who will be gnashing their teeth as I speak, but there is a lot, a lot of folks who really enjoy red wine - dry red wine with chocolate, and particularly dark chocolate because red wine has a little bit of cocoa in it. And what you're trying to do when you match wine with anything is find something that's either common or something that's such a contrast in the food that you're about to eat that it will make it just a more delicious experience when you have it together. So, a Cabernet is a very full-bodied red wine, and that is where one of my good friends, who is a serious wine and chocolate lover, says that she begins, with a Cabernet Sauvignon.

MARTIN: All right. I have our director, Rob, in the studio with me. You know, I always have to have a drinking buddy, as it were.

Ms. CROSSLEY: A taster.

(Soundbite of wine being poured)

MARTIN: A taster, yes, thank you.

(Soundbite of chocolate being unwrapped)

MARTIN: I want you to imagine that there is a beautiful silver tray with a beautifully arrayed selection of chocolates, but in the absence of that, we have a beautiful Dove bar...

(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTIN: To go with my Cabernet. OK, here we go. Rob, you want one?

ROB: All right.

MARTIN: OK. All right. Now, what do you recommend? Little nibble of chocolate, little sip?

Ms. CROSSLEY: I'm glad you asked because the secret is to let the chocolate melt a little bit in your mouth on your tongue and then have a sip of wine so that it can also coat your tongue. Too often - and I am guilty of this - I take the chocolate and chomp it and then I'm trying to swig the wine. That's not how you're supposed to do it.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTIN: Oh, see, now she tells us. OK, retake.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTIN: OK, next time we'll do this slowly, we won't just gobble up the chocolate. But here we go. Mmm. Interesting. What are we aiming for here? You kind of want that play of flavors?

Ms. CROSSLEY: Yes, what you want is a Cabernet that's not aged as much. You want it young because there is a little bit more fruit present. And there is that fruity essence in the chocolate, as well, and also that cocoa. So what you want is just a nice warm feeling as you enjoy both of them together. Now I should say, for the people who don't like the combination, they say that it's - for them it tastes sour and that the dryness in the red wine kills the fruit in the chocolate, if you will. But it's all a matter of personal taste, and this certainly is a classic combination.

MARTIN: And if people find that too bitter, there's always milk.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTIN: What's next? Port wine, tell us about port wine.

Ms. CROSSLEY: Well, there are two kinds of ports, ruby and tawny port, and they each have slightly different characteristics. First of all, I should say that port is a fortified wine, meaning that it's a wine to which brandy has been added. Now this is a very intense wine. It's a little sweeter, and it also has a very high alcohol content. So I say you need to be where you're going to be when you start sipping port and having chocolate because sometimes the alcohol content can be as high as 20 percent.

MARTIN: Oh, boy. It smells nice. It has a lovely smell. Rob, I'll pick the tawny port for us, and it has a wonderful aroma.

(Soundbite of wine being poured)

MARTIN: That's probably plenty, thank you.

Ms. CROSSLEY: Try it with a milk chocolate.


(Soundbite of chocolate being unwrapped)

MARTIN: See, I would have already unwrapped them. My romantic evening would involve...

(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTIN: That's OK, Rob. You're new at this. OK, same thing, just sort of try to melt it in your mouth a little bit?

Ms. CROSSLEY: A little bit melt and then sip - sip the wine.

MARTIN: Mmm. Rob, I'm going to ask you - because this is a little intense for me.

(Soundbite of laughter)

ROB: It's more of an acquired taste, I think, port, because you're used to the wine taste, and this is a little bit different.

Ms. CROSSLEY: And you'll notice that it's sweeter. And the general school of thought is that you want to match sweet with sweet and that the chocolate should be as sweet or sweeter than what you're drinking. So a lot of people agree that a port is an excellent match for wine.

MARTIN: OK. Finally, I think a lot of people like sparkling wine. I think a lot people associate a sparkling wine with Valentine's Day, and do you think that's true?

Ms. CROSSLEY Absolutely. Champagne and chocolate is, as far as I'm concerned, a classic combination. But I'll tell you, a lot of people will, say, ew, do not pair chocolate with sparkling wine. I don't know why, but this is a case, again, I say, what makes you feel good about it and what you like. And I think more people will agree with me that a sparkling wine is great. And a dry sparkling wine is what most people would choose, but I'd say try a sweet sparkling wine.

MARTIN: See, now you're talking my language.

Ms. CROSSLEY: Yeah, exactly, so...

MARTIN: Bring on the sweet stuff.

Ms. CROSSLEY: Now, imagine a sweet sparkling Rose with a dark chocolate. That's what you got going on there is raspberries and chocolate. What's not to like about that?


Ms. CROSSLEY: So you would enjoy that, of course.

MARTIN: All right. Well, we're going to try it. You have a piece, a piece of dark chocolate...

ROB: Oh, yeah, here we go...

MARTIN: Piece of chocolate, here we go.

(Soundbite of wine being poured)

MARTIN: OK. Mmm. What do you think? I love it. I don't know, sparkling just seems festive to me and festive and fun and playful...

Ms. CROSSLEY: Special.

MARTIN: Special, that's it.

Ms. CROSSLEY: And let me just say that there - we're not tasting them today, but you can also pair chocolate with dessert wines because they are fairly sweet, and you'll have wonderful combinations there. I mean, it would be lovely to sort of have an Orange Muscat with a dark chocolate. Mmm.

There are all kinds of combination, I think, that you can try, and it's what you like. And that's all the whole point of this. There's so much wine and there's so many interesting combinations, you should try them to see if you like them. I know we all can go to the sparkling wine, but why not try a red or try a tawny port this Valentine's Day?

MARTIN: Callie Crossley, our wine expert and the blogger behind The Crushed Grape Report. She was telling us about some wonderful bottles to go with chocolate this Valentine's Day. She joined us from member station WGBH. Cheers, Callie.

Ms. CROSSLEY: Happy sipping.

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