Wine for Chocolate Lovers

Four red wines to pair with the staple Valentine’s treat

Perhaps Eros had imbued rich, silky red wines with chocolate. After all, so many of the sexiest red wines seem to have a subtle chocolate note. They come by this in several ways. First, there’s the presence of 2, 6-dimethylpyrazine (isn’t that romantic?), an organic compound that smells just like chocolate. Second, we conjure impressions of chocolate from a variety of other similar aromas and flavors such as coffee, nuts and earth. Third, chocolate notes can arise from a wine’s interaction with charred oak barrels. Finally, producers make flavored wine with actual chocolate added. Wines with flavor allusions of chocolate tend to be sensual wines because they are also lower in acidity (less bite), have jammy fruit (a sweet impression) and are full bodied (coat the palate). Best bets are New World styles of Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Australian Shiraz and California Petite Sirah.

D’Arenberg “The Footbolt” Shiraz, McLaren Vale, Australia 2011, $20
Dreamy aromas of strawberry jam with flavors of chocolate-covered raspberries dusted with white pepper.  

Buehler Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 2010, $28
Such beautiful flavors of cassis and mocha! A softer style, this wine is also big and sonorous and can be easily drunk on its own or enjoyed with rich raw milk cheeses.

Girard Petite Sirah, Napa Valley 2010, $27
Lush fruit and a massive mouthfeel reverberate with meaty, smoky notes—not unlike chocolate-covered bacon!

Segehesio Zinfandel Cortina, Dry Creek Valley, California 2010, $37
Deep, inky red with considerable power and a texture so silky, it’s like drinking liqueur. This one really warms the throttle.    

Michael Kwas is wine director at L’Etoile restaurant. He writes this column monthly.

Read more Off the Vine columns here.

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