Valentine’s Day, also called St. Valentine’s Day, offers the opportunity for lovers and friends to express their affection with greetings and gifts. And while you could rely on a greeting card (about 145 million are exchanged on Valentine’s Day alone) or one of those candy conversation hearts (about 19 million pounds are sold every year on Valentine’s Day), why not explore some of the innovative wine and chocolate pairings available right in your backyard?
Wine & Chocolate Pairings
Wine and chocolate are both well-known aphrodisiacs and mood-boosters, and pairing them together with your sweetheart has been one of the most popular roads to Valentine’s Day success for centuries. But the art and science of pairing wine and chocolate require more effort than simply grabbing your favorite bonbon and bottle of red, which is why turning to the pros for assistance is key.
The right wine and chocolate pairing will—like a good marriage— bring out the best qualities of both the wine and the chocolate, while the wrong pairing will do the opposite. Basic rules of thumb: pair whiter, lighter wines with white or milky chocolates. Pair red wine with darker flavors. Sparkling wine is more flexible.
Now through Valentine’s Day, there are a number of thoughtfully curated wine and chocolate pairings organized by many of the 60+ wineries in the Garden State. The New Jersey Wine & Chocolate Trail also has weekends: February 10-12 and February 17-19, 2023.
For a full calendar of events including wine & chocolate, but also live music, fire pits and more, go to our events listing page here.
An amuse bouche:
Love Infused at Ventimiglia Vineyard
Love—and Cabernet—will be top of mind at Ventimiglia Vineyards in February. The winery is offering a taste of Sue’s House of Fudge’s latest chocolate creation, which is infused with Cabernet Franc wine.
Samples of the locally made chocolate will be available, and of course, plenty of selections will be available for purchase as well.
Port-fect Pairings at Angelico Winery
Angelico Winery is firing up its patio and backyard pits, and debuting its incredible Port-style wine, with thoughtful chocolate truffle pairings. The port, solo, delivers distinct notes of dark red raspberry and mocha, vanilla and dried fruit. Semi-sweet truffles enhance those notes, and the port brings out dark fruit notes and the creaminess of the truffles.
If you want a full-on date-night, Va Fa Napoli will be on hand with Italian classics like penne alla vodka and chicken marsala. There will also be live classical and jazz every weekend.
Chocolate Therapy at Laurita Winery
Laurita Winery has the ultimate indulgence on tap: Chocolate Therapy. A blend of smooth milk chocolate and luscious grapes, it is a sippable dessert on its own, or you can pour the decadent, creamy, caramel-flavored treat over cake, or ice cream. Laurita is also offering an array of local chocolate vendors on the weekend so you can sip and snack, and bring a box or five home.
The Chocolate Art Gallery, Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory and Kiersten’s Creations will set up every weekend through Valentine’s Day from 12 pm to 5 pm. There will also be live music.
Celebrating at Home
If your idea of a romantic Valentine’s Day doesn’t involve anyone but the object of your affection, you can still celebrate with a bottle of Garden State wine, and Laurita Winery’s insanely delicious recipe for parfait perfection.
Laurita Chocolate Therapy Parfait (courtesy of Laurita Winery):
- 15 Oreos (or Girls Scouts Thin Mints, or your favorite chocolate cookie)
- 4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, roughly chopped
- ½ cup whole milk]
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream
- 1/3 cup Laurita Chocolate Therapy wine, chilled
- 1/24 cup powdered sugar
- Crush the cookies into crumbles and set aside.
- Using a double boiler (or whatever method you prefer to melt the chocolates) add milk and heat until steaming.
- Next add the chocolate. Mixture will be thin like chocolate milk. Set aside and let cool to room temperature.
- Using a stand mixer (or hand mixer + large bowl), add in chilled heavy cream, Chocolate Therapy, and powdered sugar> Beat on high until stiff peaks form, about 5 to7 minutes.
- Divide cream mixture in half. Set one half of the mixture aside in the refrigerator until ready to assemble the parfait. Next, slowly add the chocolate mixture over the remaining half of the whipped cream, gently folding them together until completely mixed.
Building the Parfait:
In a stemless wine glass (or any glass of your choice) use a spoon or a pastry bag, add layers of the cream and crushed cookies as you see fit. Layer of chocolate, then cream, then cookies, then cream again, then chocolate again, then cream again. Finally, finish with any remaining cookie crumbles on top.
Parfaits can be served immediately, but if you’d like the chocolate layer to be firmer, you should chill parfaits for 2 to 3 hours before serving or set all layers (except cookies) aside in the refrigerator, keeping them chilled and then layer just before serving. This will keep cookies from getting soggy and at their freshest.
When working with the heavy whipping cream, it will whip better if it is very cold. Recommend to put the heavy cream and any other liquids using (such as the Chocolate Therapy) in the freezer for 20 minutes prior to working with them, along with mixing bowl.
New Jersey’s wineries grow more than 80 grape varieties, including Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, Albarino and Riesling in four American Viticultural Areas. There is definitely a great winery less than an hour’s drive from wherever you live in the state. Go out and explore (start your search here), and toast to your love!