The perfect pairing of wine and chocolate
CITY SIPS By Jeffrey Dorgan

With Valentine’s Day quickly approaching, I want to talk about one of the more cliché gifts: wine and chocolate. It isn’t as easy as running out and buying a chocolate bar and grabbing the closest bottle off of the shelf. There are a few basics that need to be followed to make chocolate-and-wine pairing a nirvana experience instead of a nightmare pairing.

First, ideally the wine and the chocolate should be close to the same sweetness. If the chocolate is sweeter, the wine will seem bitter. If the wine is sweeter than the chocolate, then all you will taste is the wine — it will overwhelm the chocolate.

Second, it is always good to match flavor intensities. If you have a light flavor chocolate (such as white chocolate), you match it with a lighter-bodied wine. If the chocolate is rich and deep in flavor, you match it with a more full-bodied, complex wine.

As with all wine pairings, it is a matter of personal preference: There are many people who love a big, old red with milk chocolate. I encourage experimenting: buying a few different types of chocolate and mix-and-matching with different wines.

Recommended pairings

White chocolate (which I don’t even think of this as chocolate) tends to be mellow and buttery and goes better with dessert wines, sherry or a sweeter champagne or sparkling wine. There is higher sugar content in white chocolate, so you want to make sure the wine is high in sugar, as well

Milk chocolate has a creaminess that pairs well with ruby port, a pinot noir or light-bodied merlot. A red wine with lower tannin levels is better since it underscores the creamy flavors without overpowering it.

Bittersweet and dark chocolates have stronger flavors, more cacao and less sugar so they stand up to more tannins — pull out the big reds for this group, like cabernet sauvignon (something strong with concentrated fruit flavors).

Zinfandels as well as Syrah and Australian Shiraz work well also, especially if the wine has some spice to it.

Local chocolate shops

The Seattle area is blessed with some smaller, handmade-chocolate shops. One small shop on Westlake Avenue is Marie & Frère: Chocolate from the Source, which sources its chocolate from a single plantation.

There, chocolate is the same as wine: There is a sense of place. The store does have handmade truffles that are made by the pastry chef from Mistral Kitchen.

A few other places include Oh! Chocolate in Madison Park. For more than 50 years and three generations, the family has been committed to making handcrafted, artisan chocolates.

It makes small-batch, French-style chocolates and have many different and

. CITY SIPS, Page 14