Chocolate and Wine Pairings

So, it’s Valentine’s Day. 

Honestly, it’s never really been my thing. It’s a Hallmark holiday, but it’s good business for florists. In my world, you should show someone you love and appreciate them all the time, not just one day a year…. 

Okay. Having got that crankiness off my chest, let’s turn to the task at hand. 

Chocolate and Wine Pairing

Love it or hate it, Valentine’s Day is a great excuse to indulge. It’s far enough away from New Years that you don’t have to feel super guilty about breaking a few resolutions, and, I mean, hey! it’s Valentine’s Day! You deserve a little chocolate and wine. Either because you have a great relationship, or you don’t. Either is a perfectly good reason in my books. 

I enjoy learning about wine. I’m not the biggest connoisseur in the world, beyond the fact that I know what I like. I am also a big fan of dark chocolate. And, as it turns out, dark chocolate (because it tends to be lower in sugar and more savoury in nature) can actually pair quite well with wine. 

So, if you wanna drown your sorrows this V-day, or share your chocolate and wine with someone else (I think I might rather hoard mine all to myself), I have some suggested pairings for you. 

Oh–by the way, if you do decide to do a formal tasting pairing, here is how to do it, according the the nice people at Lindt (this post is in no way sponsored by them, I just really like their chocolate):

  1. First, taste both the chocolate and wine individually.
  2. Then, to begin the pairing, take another piece of chocolate. Savour the taste as it slowly melts in your mouth.
  3. When the last lingering notes of chocolate are all that remain, take a sip of wine. Hold the wine in your mouth, allowing it to coat your palate.
  4. Notice the complex changes in taste as the wine mingles with the residual chocolate flavour.

Chart courtesy of Lindt Chocolate

Cabernet Sauvignon with Dark Chocolate with Raspberries:

I wandered into Lindt yesterday to get my fix, and they have a new bar out, which features chunks of raspberries. This is one of my favourite flavour combos. It goes great with a cabernet sauvignon, which has lots of plummy and blackberry notes. 

Pinot Noir with Chili Chocolate

Some like it hot! The spiciness of the Chili Chocolate is a great match for the cherry notes in a bold Pinot Noir. For those of you out there with a fiery, passionate relationship, this is your pairing. 

Riesling with Orange Chocolate

This Okanagan Riesling is under $20.

The riesling has notes of citrus and stone fruit, and that pairs great with the citrus in the chocolate. This is a lighter pairing, for those of you who aren’t attracted to dark, bold reds, but want something lighter and less complex. 

Merlot with Dark Chocolate Sea Salt

The Lindt Dark Chocolate Sea Salt is my favourite. It’s the one I come back to again and again, and it’s very seldom that I don’t have one in my house. I love the sweet/savoury pairing, and the salt brings out the chocolate. The plum and pomegranate notes in the merlot go nicely here. 

Not a fan of dark chocolate? 

White Chocolate with liqueur

A lot of people don’t even consider white chocolate to be chocolate, because it has the lowest amount of cocoa solids. Dark chocolate has a minimum of 70%, and white chocolate only has 30%. But some of you really like it. Ideally, because it’s sweet, you want to pair it with something sweeter, like Bailey’s Irish Cream. 

Milk Chocolate with Ice Wine 

Inniskillin makes a great local ice wine.

Milk chocolate has somewhere around 35%-50% cocoa solids, and is much sweeter than dark chocolate. Pair it with a finishing drink, something sweet, like an ice wine, a sherry or a Port (basically some kind of sweeter, fortified wine). One of my local faves is Langley’s Vista D’oro’s Walnut Fortified Wine. 

There you have it! Go out and collect some bottles and collect some chocolate and have a blast this Valentine’s Day–and remember, if you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with. 

Salted Maple Caramel {Vegan}

I am Canadian, eh? 

I love Tim Horton’s coffee, poutine (have you tried the vegan version at The Spud Shack?), and the ocean. Catherine O’Hara is my hero. I own many plaid shirts. 

I’ve been almost everywhere in this great country, and I love every inch. Except Manitoba. 😉 Kidding! I kid. 

So, when you think of Canada, what immediately springs to mind? I’m gonna say Maple Syrup. It doesn’t get much more Canadian than that. 

Salted Maple Caramel (Vegan)

I’ve been to Ottawa and I’ve been to Quebec, but I just recently learned how maple syrup comes to be. 

The maple syrup farmers tap the maple trees in the spring, and collect the sap. What comes out is a clear water. They then cook this up in huge kettles until it thickens and caramelizes into the deliciousness we pour on our pancakes. 

It take 40 times the amount of maple sap or water to make 1 part of maple syrup! So for each 40 litres collected, the result is just one litre of maple syrup. 

As it turns out, some smartypants tasted the water and discovered that it tasted great. Then they did some research on it, and discovered that it actually contains 46 bioactive compounds, like amino acids, prebiotics and electrolytes. Who knew? It’s actually really good for you in its raw state. 

So if you’re the type to reach for a coconut water after a workout or yoga, you might wanna try maple water instead. I don’t actually like coconut water, but this stuff? It’s very drinkable. 

I’ve been experimenting with Pure Maple Water since a friend of mine gave me some. I’ve used it in smoothies, in cocktails (it’s great with bourbon), and I put it in my oatmeal and in my chia pudding. 

But recently, I was wondering if I could take it a step further, and decided to try to use it in a caramel. Turns out, it works pretty well. 

Oh–if you want to try some for yourself, head to The Wellness Show this weekend at the Vancouver Convention Centre. They will be there sampling. 

This is a vegan caramel, and once you’ve made it, it has a ton of uses: 

  • Pour it on ice cream
  • Put it in your coffee
  • Pour it on cakes or brownies
  • Pour it on waffles or pancakes
  • Use it as a sauce for bread pudding
  • Use it for flan or creme caramel
  • eat it by the spoonful
Vegan Creme Caramel

Vegan Creme Caramel. I used this recipe to make the custard

Salted Maple Caramel {Vegan}

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup maple water
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4-1/2 cup non dairy milk (coconut or oat work best. Oat is more neutral)

Method: 

  1. In a heavy bottomed pot, place the sugar, maple water and maple syrup. Heat over medium-high heat until all the sugar dissolves and it starts to produce large, slow bubbles. 
  2. Don’t stir, just swirl the pan a little, and allow the sugar to caramelize. This will take about 5-10 minutes. If you are using a candy thermometer, you want to get the sugar to just over 300 degrees. It should be a beautiful amber/caramel colour. Remember you are going to add milk to it, so it’s okay to get it a bit darker than the actual colour you are looking for. 
  3. Remove from the heat, and carefully stir in the salt and 1/4 cup of the non dairy milk. Once it’s incorporated, check to see how thick it is. If you want a runnier caramel, add a little more milk, until you get it to the consistency you like. 
  4. Store in a covered mason jar in the fridge. 

 

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