I believe that whether you have a Valentine’s or “Galentine’s” Day celebration, it’s a chance to cherish your relationships and celebrate love in general. It’s also an opportunity (or an excuse!) to indulge in some great wine. For Valentine’s Day, I like to choose my wines based on my favorite chocolate pairings.
Let’s start with a few things to keep in mind:
- Lighter chocolates pair with lighter wine
- Darker the chocolate, choose a richer red wine
- If the chocolate has berries in it, pair a brighter fruit-forward red wine
- Sparkling wine pairs well with creamy chocolate
- Be certain to serve your chocolates and your red wines at a similar temperature, around 55 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
Now, let’s get to the good stuff! Here are a few in-depth wine and chocolate recommendations that are perfect no matter how you celebrate Valentine’s — or “Galentines” — Day.
Milk Chocolate – Sip a wine that will complement the creaminess of the milk chocolate. I recommend Pinot Noir such as 2015 Resonance Willamette Valley Pinot Noir ($45) or a sparkling wine, Yellowhawk Bubbles ($30).
Dark Chocolate – Dark chocolate has a bitter and tannic flavor that is complimented by the full fruit of richer red wines such as a Port, Zinfandel, Syrah or Cabernet Sauvignon. My favorites are 2019 Watermill Hallowed Stones Syrah ($55) and Cathedral Ridge 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon ($38).
Chocolate-Covered Strawberries – Pinot Noir and Grenache are medium-bodied wines that pair with the brightness of strawberries coated in creamy chocolate. Long Walk Vineyard 2020 Grenache ($35) is a great option that brings out a vibrant mixture of sour cherry, rhubarb, iron essence and graphite.
Caramel – Both caramel and Merlot are smooth flavors that will mellow on your palate together. The velvety, medium-bodied Januik Winery Merlot 2020 ($28) reveals delicious layers of raspberry, boysenberry and plum that translate into fleshy black fruit and cocoa flavors in the mouth.
White Chocolate – Chardonnay has a touch of vanilla with a balanced acidity that will smooth out the sugar of the white chocolate, and the effervescence of sparkling wine cleanses your palate between creamy bites. I love to pair white chocolate with the Woodward Canyon 2021 Chardonnay ($44) or Domaine Ste. Michelle Extra Dry ($14).
Chocolate with Nuts – To be enjoyed with Cabernet Sauvignon or Red Burgundy. Both wines have undertones of nuttiness to compliment the creamy chocolate and nuts. My go-to is Gramercy Cellars Lower East Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 ($32).
Sandra Guibord is the author of Sandra’s Wine Life: Find Your Wine Identity, a consummate guide to the world of wine, offering sip-worthy suggestions to turn year-round entertaining into memorable events. You can also read her blog at Sandra’s Wine Life.