When romance is in the air, just say NO to wine and chocolate candy pairings, I always say. Just don’t go there. Dessert and wine in general is a terrible idea: to make a chocolate and wine pairing work, the wine needs to be sweeter than the dessert. And that’s where DESSERT WINES come in: they DO work with desserts, including chocolate as long as the chocolate dish is not too sweet. For your sweetheart, for Valentines Day or some other special occasion, a great dessert pairing is port –or a port style red wine–and pots de crème,a dark chocolate pudding-type dessert made with lots of egg yolks, not cornstarch. We finished our Mexican pots de crème off one night with freshly whipped cream with just a touch of powered sugar, spiced pepitas, and a sprinkle of Maldon salt, and on another night with blueberries. We also paired the wines with chocolate truffles. Mexican pots de crème are made with Mexican chocolate which has cinnamon in it!
2022 Clos des Amis “Ponto Forte” Block Vineyard Dessert Zinfandel, Ventura County
SRP: $35/split size bottle
sample for my review
This is a micro-production hand made wine with only a few cases made from one barrel of organically grown 40 year old grape vines. I helped with bottling, and again, everything had to be done by hand because of the size of the bottles, and the small production. We hand dipped the bottles in the black wax and then we drizzled the “honey” from the bees on top. The bottling, the label, and the wine are all over the top. Learn more about Clos des Amis and order wine here. Learn more about the Block zinfandel vineyard when I helped harvest there in 2020; there’s a few bottles of that left that was made using carbonic maceration, and it is fantastic as well.
Appearance: Very youthful and bright, violet, purple, ruby rim, dense in the glass
Aroma: chocolate plum, eucalyptus, menthol, black licorice, very dense and rich, heavy and heady without feeling that it is full of alcohol because of the licorice and fruit, honeyed blackberry, roasted fruit,
Palate: Wow, spice and textural, rich bodied, tannins from the whole cluster, the lignents were ripe, the stems and the seeds add so much to the textural enjoyment of the wine. Boysenberry fruit with tannins and richness. Such an interesting combination. Leathery texture on the palate. This wine has great textural intensity.
Pairing: The wine is tart, zingy and mouthwatering next to this sweet decadent dessert. Once you get past the zing the wine brings out the cinnamon in the rich flavorful dessert. Rich boysenberries, mulberries, and salty cream. There are a number of elements that take this pairing over the top. The Mexican chocolate, the Maldon salt and the candied pepitas. On another occasion, we paired the wine with store bought organic chocolate pot de creme made with plain chocolate to which we added whip cream and blue berries — yum!
Fonseco Porto “Bin No 27” Reserve Ruby Porto
SRP: $21/full size bottle
Grapes: Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Barroca, Tinta Roriz, Tinto Cão, Tinta Amarela
sample for my review
Fonseca’s quintas in the Cima Corgo provides the fruit, and robotic “Port Toes” treads the grapes. Grape spirits are added to halt fermentation before all the residual sugar has been fermented, creating a sweet, fortified wine. Aged for four years in neutral wood vats before bottling, this ruby-style Porto is blended with reserve wines to create Bin No 27. Learn more about Fonseca.
Appearance: Very dense and rich. Maroon velvet drapes, ruby rim.
Aroma: Fig Newtons, pollen, eucalyptus, whipped honey.
Palate: Honey sweet, blackberry mead, bramble fruit.
Pairing: The bitterness of the chocolate brings out the fruit in the wine. Wine always needs to be sweeter than the dessert and in this case it works as a nice tartness comes out in the wine when paired with the dessert. With the pot du creme the nuts bring it over the top. The cinnamon in the Mexican chocolate make a perfect accompaniment to the wine. They are equals and hang out together nicely. Sue felt that the chocolate truffles are a bit too sweet for the port while the Pot du creme is perfect with the wine due to the nuts and the salt on the top which takes it to the place it needs to go.
If a cocktail is more your speed for how you want to start your Valentine’s Day celebration, Fonseca offers this one:
SAINT VALENTINE’S RECIPE
Shake well with ice:
1 1/2 oz. good, flavorful white rum
1/2 oz. Fonseca Bin 27 Ruby Port
1/2 oz. orange curacao or Grand Marnier
1/2 oz. oz. fresh-squeezed lime juice
Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.