Monday, February 1, 2010

Wine and Chocolate - the perfect early Valentine's Day party

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that's me and my hubby in the middle!!

I like my wine white. And I like my chocolate dark. And what a pickle that put me in. In the world of wine and chocolate pairing, those two things do not mix. An acidic Chardonnay is best paired with a sweet, white chocolate. And an aromatic Cabernet is best enhanced with bitter, dark chocolate. So, says pairing experts. But I will attest that eating the "wrong" chocolate is certainly not going to ruin your night. Although Valentine's Day is still weeks away, my husband and I celebrated with some close friends this past weekend. Given that we have children and roommates (in case you have forgotten, ain't nothing romantic about roommates), I was all set for V Day to just pass us by this year. That was until Turning Leaf offered to send some samples of wine to host a chocolate pairing. In these economic times, turning down free wine would just be unAmerican so I graciously accepted and began planning. Our good friend's Ryan and Genette generously offered their house and to keep it intimate, we invited just one other couple, Taryn and Ed. Genette planned an amazing dinner of penne with Vodka cream sauce (um, totally amazing. So amazing, in fact, that I made it for dinner tonight) and I brought the wine and chocolate. I also brought some decor because I am totally type A like that. I wanted to keep away from the traditional red and went with a very cool robin blue and gray scheme with pops of red instead. I found a factoid on the Internet about the cocoa bean being used as an aphrodisiac and combined it with a graphic I found on the web (via, art by Amy Moss) to make a small sign. I also found a page of heart tags that I printed in various sizes to scatter around on the table (also by Amy Moss via The rest of the decor was very simple just using platters from Ikea and candles that R and G already had. I also "decanted" the wine in vases, also purchased from Ikea. I mean, the colors just went so much better then the normal wine bottle...(if there is a decorator's anonymous, someone please sign me up). Since it is natural to open wine at the beginning of the dinner party, we decided to go ahead and eat the chocolate then too. And since I am a huge proponent of dessert first, this tickled me. The Turning Leaf Chardonnay was sweet and smooth and very drinkable. G, usually a fan of sweeter Riesling, also enjoyed it. The white chocolate was very creamy and a natural partner to the wine. The Cabernet and dark chocolate was quite tasty also. Maybe it is my dark chocolate bias talking but I could certainly make it a habit of drinking more red wine if there was always chocolate involved. We had mainly Godiva chocolates and they were delicious and would be very easy to find. Apparently white chocolate is not as popular and therefore much harder to find when you are trying to get to a party on time. We ended up with something called white chocolate pearls and they worked out okay. If you are planning a pairing party of your own be sure to seek them out ahead of time. There is a lot more information online about all the other types of wines and chocolates that go well together too if you wanted to make the pairing more elaborate. G made flourless chocolate cupcakes for dessert and again, the red wine did not disappoint. I would love to try this again with more desserts and not just candies. To make a memory for all of us, I brought a big picture frame (Ikea again, holla!) and popped out the glass and backing and had each couple take a picture in it.

Turning Leaf wines can be found at your local grocer and are very reasonable at around $8.99 a bottle. Have you seen Brix? I bought one for my father in law for Christmas and somehow this product managed to totally slip my mind when planning for our soiree. I would certainly pick some of these up and have on hand for impromptu chocolate pairings. The night was a blast and was really easy to do. Keep in mind though, if you want to add the photos to your evening, keep in mind that wine tends to make things bit fuzzy so for best results, you might want to take them at the beginning of the evening...


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