It’s a cliché gift this month, but nonetheless, I simply adore chocolate. Always have, always will.
Perhaps not surprisingly, my favorite chocolates can be found at some of Baltimore’s best wine shops. I pick up Kirchmayr from The Wine Source, Vosges from Mt. Washington Wine Company, and Mexican bricks from Chesapeake Wine Company. Unsurprising, because wine and chocolate, when paired properly, are natural complements.
If your valentine has a sweet tooth, consider a bottle from Banyuls-sur-Mer. This picturesque town is the source of heady dessert wine based on the grenache grape, made in the manner of port.
My perennial favorite is Domaine la Tour Vieille Banyuls (Chesapeake Beverage Group, $26.99, 500 milliliters), currently a 2005. The wine’s residual sugar will pair nicely with sweeter chocolate desserts. It also makes an ideal companion to rich, sweet truffles.
Fruit lovers will swoon over Antichi Giochi Casorzo Red Peimontesi “Voület” 2006 (Henry Wine Group, $15.99). Its light sweetness, low alcohol, and delicate bubbles marry to chocolate-dipped strawberries faster than a Vegas drive-through chapel. It is a delightful bottle of wine to have on hand because it is so unusual yet so dangerously delicious. Enjoy it with dessert.
Ninety percent dark-chocolate fetishists, or even those less adventuresome fans of the 60 or 70 percent variety, require something a bit more serious. Dark, brooding, sometimes tannic chocolate requires something similar in a wine, something with body and depth—like Honig Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2005 (Bacchus Importers, Ltd., $29.99). This is a hefty Napa cabernet sauvignon that I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend for anything that requires strapping red wine, but it also has a role to play with chocolate. Its ripe California fruit won’t be overshadowed by the sweetness of dessert, and its tannic structure will support cocoa butter just as naturally as it would béarnaise sauce or marbled rib-eye.