By Nora Heston Tarte
With Lodi’s Wine & Chocolate Weekend just around the corner, we’re anxiously awaiting the blissful combinations of indulgent chocolate treats and equally delicious fine local wines. A weekend simply isn’t long enough to cram all of these diet-busting cravings into our mouths, so San Joaquin Magazine is setting you up for culinary success at home with local wine and chocolate pairings recommended by the experts.
Jessie’s Grove’s Zinfandel
If Earth, Zin & Fire—a medium-to-full bodied, fruity-yet-dry zin—is the vino of your choice, go for something sweet and spicy like dark chocolate with chilies, suggests Sarah Williams, wine club coordinator at Jessie’s Grove. Rich chocolate is sure to complement the award winning sipper that flirts with unconventional flavor blends, complete with notes of apple pie, minerals, juicy boysenberry, and just the right amount of spice.
Viaggio Summertime Pinot Grigio
For some reason, red and dark seems to be the go-to combination when it comes to wine and chocolate, but if you’re partial to white varietals, that doesn’t mean you should forgo dessert; sometimes ignoring tradition is the best way to surprise your taste buds. If you’re filling your glass with Viaggio’s Summertime Pinot Grigio, made from Lodi AVA grapes, staff says milk chocolate with caramel is the perfect match.
Twisted Barrel Merlot
This bright, fruity Merlot includes hints of eucalyptus, a perfect presence of wood and a smooth, clean finish. So what chocolate best pairs with the Twisted Barrel Merlot? Maxine Tanner, vice president of marketing at Twisted Barrel, says her personal recommendation would be a dark chocolate, specifically a truffle with a soft center. If you’re stopping by Wine & Chocolate weekend however, sample the winery’s dessert pizza (a traditional crust spread with thick vanilla pudding and drizzled with chocolate).
Barsetti Cabernet Sauvignon
Cabernet Sauvignon is customarily revered for its rich, complex flavor and aromas of blackberries and black currants. Barsetti’s cab stays true to this flavor profile, presenting a soft and supple wine that is rich, bold, and fruity. Aged in oak barrels, hints of vanilla, spice, and mocha have seeped into the wine, which just begs to be paired with dark, rich chocolates, especially those with soft, fruity centers. Barsetti staff advice? Avoid anything too, too sweet.
Macchia “Delicious” Barbera
This food-friendly, local wine is known for its refined tannins and lively acidity, heavy with vibrant red fruit and blackberry flavors and aged in oak barrels to further underscore the deep colors, low tannins, and high levels of acid. None of that, however, can dull the fruity flavor the Lodi barbera is known for. Co-owners Tim and Lani Holdener suggest dark chocolate and salted caramel to complement any of their Barbera wines, including two more labels—“Righteous” and “Infamous.”
With an initial palette of light, peachy flavors that finish with a lemon zest, this Lodi wine uniquely offers no oak presence as it is barreled in stainless steel to retain its crisp flavor. The refreshing white wine is perfectly balanced with semi-dark chocolate. If you want to get technical, PRIE’s owner—John Gash—says chocolate-labeled 41-60 percent cacao is best.