I’ve heard you talk about enjoying wines with chocolate many times and have dabbled in finding appropriate pairings. I’d love to throw a small party featuring the two but am not really sure where to begin. Could you offer me a couple of suggestions as to how many wines and how many types of chocolate I should offer, as well as the format the evening might take? April Dear April, We do love the idea of pairing wine with chocolate, and with Valentines Day around the corner your timing couldn’t be any better. To planning your party, where to begin? Think about offering a range of chocolates, maybe five or six, with a varying degree of cacao content resulting in different levels of sweetness and pure chocolate strength. Consider too, chocolates that contain nuts or toffee, opening up additional possibilities. Next select a range of wines, keeping in mind that in general sweeter wines such as icewines, sherry, tawny port or a Banyuls from France pair really well with chocolate. Throw in a fruity Zinfandel too for a different experience… don’t forget, it’s all about personal taste! Many sommeliers and experts love the pairing of dry Cabernets or fruity wines with dark chocolate while others opt for the classic, and romantic chocolate dipped strawberries and Champagne. Another option, making life simple and taking out the guesswork would be to consider the absolutely delicious chocolate on the market called BRIX; the first ever to be crafted specifically to pair with wine. After much trial and error, the founder Dr. Proia an Ohio pulmonologist (who appreciated the antioxidants found in both wine and chocolate) developed three blends of chocolate with their root being of single origin Ghanaian chocolate known for their red fruit tones particularly suited to wine. Each of the three blends, of varying cocoa content come with suggested wine selections for optimal enjoyment. We were so impressed with BRIX that we now offer it in our store on our website. A few chocolate tasting tips that we’ve picked up over time include the advice of chocolatiers and connoisseurs to not bite into the chocolate, but rather to allow the chocolate to slowly melt in your mouth maximizing the full range of flavors, texture and finish. Sample the wine first on its own, and then sample the chocolate. Next taste the wine again along with the chocolate in your mouth. Is the sum of the parts greater than the whole? Notice if certain flavors of either the wine or the chocolate are heightened or perhaps diminished? Share your taste experience and your thoughts with the others. Be sure to provide your guests with several palate cleansers such as fresh bread, simple crackers and pitchers of water. A selection of fresh cheeses accompanied by fresh fruit would round out the evening beautifully!