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Southlake Style

Perfect Pairings

Feb 01, 2016 08:39AM ● By Dia

All you need is love. And maybe a little wine and chocolate—at least for Valentine’s Day. But we’re not talking about grabbing any bottle of wine and a heart-shaped box of chocolate; there’s an art to pairing the two. Whether you’re a foodie, wine aficionado, or you’re just looking to savor a sweet moment, here’s what local experts have to say about enjoying wine and chocolate together.

For starters, remember the basic rule for the best pairing: the wine should always be a little sweeter than the chocolate. “You don’t ever want to select a wine that’s drier, meaning not as sweet, because it will make the wine seem sour,” explains Glenn Verk, Wine and Beer Manager for Central Market.

He recommends the traditional pairing of milk chocolate with red wine, specifically softer, riper reds such as a pinot noir from Santa Barbara rather than an Oregon pinot.

With dark chocolate, which tends to be bitter, Verk says dry reds are the way to go as they will taste more fruit-forward and ripe. White chocolate, he says, pairs nicely with any red or white wine, or you could even pair it with a bottle of bubbly. “There’s something about champagne that’s so light and lifted on the palate that it doesn’t taste overly tart,” says Verk.

Sarabeth Yeli Marshall, artisan chocolatier at Yelibelly Chocolates in Southlake, suggests dark wine such as a pinot noir, shiraz or merlot. Or, you can just enjoy your wine directly in your chocolate. Yelibelly offers a selection of wine-infused truffles to take your Valentine’s Day (and your taste buds) to the next level.

“Just like wine, chocolate has so many nuances,” she says. “A wine-infused truffle is a taste to be savored.”

Yelibelly’s best-selling truffle is the habanero-infused truffle, which has a unique spiciness without being too powerful. It’s available all year long, but for Valentine’s Day, the shop is rolling out something special: its Sweetheart Box, which includes tantalizing flavors such as cinnamon Schnapps, chili pepper and toasted Hawaiian coconut.

Want a unique experience? Have the chocolate come to you. A tasting party is just the way to get your sweet fix while exploring various chocolates. You just might learn a little something, too.

“We taste chocolates from five different countries and discuss the difference between them. I also include a chocolatier’s amuse—a unique chocolate dessert I prepare special for the group,” says Marshall. “Our tasting parties teach you how to truly enjoy all the flavors in chocolate.”

If this sounds like a fun date night or girls’ night, be sure to book a few weeks in advance; Marshall says weekends tend to be busy.

“The beauty of chocolate is that every piece can be excellent, depending on who is enjoying it,” Marshall says. And when you have a great glass of wine to go along with it, it really is a match to love.