Now that Valentine's Day is less than a month away, my Inbox is absolutely cluttered with emails about the "perfect Valentine's Day gift" -- chocolates, wine, spa specials, romantic getaway vacations. Honestly, it's a little out of control. While I do have a sweetheart, we don't go crazy when it comes to finding the perfect Valentine's Day gift for one another. For us, the couple who has been enduring a long-distance relationship FOR-EV-ER, spending time together is truly the best gift.
However, if you're looking for a unique way to celebrate Valentine's Day with your sweetheart (or with a bunch of friends), then consider attending or organizing a wine and chocolate tasting. I attended such a tasting event hosted by Micah Carr-Hill, Director of Product Development for Green & Black's Chocolate back in November and immediately thought it would be a fantastic way celebrate what can arguably be considered the world's biggest Hallmark Holiday.
For the Green & Black's event, we were given samples of six different organic chocolates that were each paired with a wine that would help bring out the unique characteristic of the chocolate:
- White Chocolate with 2007 Chateua Doisy Vedrines Barsac
- Peanut with Sea Salt (Milk Chocolate) with 2000 Trimbach Gewurztraminer Vendanges Tardives
- Almond (Milk Chocolate) with Sandeman Royal Corregidor Rich Old Oloroso Sherry, Aged 20 Years
- Cherry (Dark Chocolate) with The Rare Wine Co. Historic Series Madeira, New York Malmsey Special Reserve
- Dark 70% with 2008 Domaine de la Casa Blanca Banyuls
- Dark 85% with 2008 Bodegas Renacer "Enamore"
Besides reaffirming my love for chocolate, I learned a few things that day:
- When hosting a wine and chocolate tasting, be sure to taste the white chocolate first, if applicable. Then progress through the milk chocolate varieties, ending with the darkest chocolate variety.
- Pairing a sweet wine with white chocolate will truly balance the flavor of the chocolate.
- For the Peanut with Sea Salt bar, the peanuts were caramelized and then coated with the sea salt to balance the sweetness of the milk chocolate.
- Nuts, in general, make excellent stir-ins for milk chocolate. The darker the chocolate, the more overpowering it becomes, and you risk losing the flavor of the nut.
- For the Almond bar, the skin was left on the nuts and the nut was left whole in order to fully encapsulate the flavor of the almonds.
- Vanilla has the ability to highlight the sweetness of dark chocolate and to bring down the bitterness.
Needless to say, I had a fantastic time at the Green & Black's event and was grateful to have a reason to pop out of the office for two hours in the middle of the day. If you're interested in participating in a wine and chocolate event in New York City, here's a list of events to consider:
- AYZA Wine & Chocolate Bar - Promotions Page
- Morris-Jumel Mansion - 3rd Annual Chocolate Day: Wine & Chocolate Tasting (Search by events in February 2011)
- New York Chocolate Tours - The Union Square Chocolate, Wine & Culture Tour
- The Artisanal Premium Cheese Center - Decadent Chocolate & Sinful Cheese
Do you know of a wine and chocolate event in the city? (It doesn't have to be specific to Valentine's Day.) Leave a comment and let me know so I can add the link to the above list!
And, just because I'm feeling incredibly nosy... what's your idea of "the perfect Valentine's Day gift"?
Taste As You Go Disclaimer: I was provided with the opportunity to attend this event at no cost. I do not accept monetary compensation for writing about my experiences. All opinions expressed are my own.