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In Bars & Clubs Commentary

Wine and chocolate go together like you and your sweetie. (PHOTO: shutterstock.com )

Damiano shares secrets for perfect wine-chocolate Valentine's Day match


"Bar Month" at OnMilwaukee.com – brought to you by Absolut, Avion, Fireball, Pama, Red Stag and 2 Gingers – is back for another round! The whole month of February, we're serving up intoxicatingly fun articles on bars and clubs – including guides, the latest trends, bar reviews, the results of our Best of Bars poll and more. Grab a designated driver and dive in!

Wondering about the perfect wine to pair with that box of chocolates you're planning on gifting to your beloved this Valentine's Day? Or what to order with that alluring dessert when you go out to celebrate love's favorite day of the year?

We talked to Christian Damiano, who serves as beverage director at Potawatomi Bingo Casino – and Certified Sommelier by the Court of Master Sommeliers – to find out how to find the perfect match to help you celebrate your perfect match this Valentine's Day.

OMC: What is it that makes chocolate and wine such great, ahem, bedfellows?

Christian Damiano: Chocolate and wine make interesting "bedfellows." It's not unlike that first awkward moment with a new partner – the first kiss can be exhilarating and fun and slightly clumsy all at the same time. You may need and want to take a different approach the second and third time around to get it right. Overall with chocolate and wine pairing the key is compromise and balance in the flavors.

OMC: What kinds of wine do you typically pair with chocolate?

CD: I typically choose fairly hearty red wine to go with chocolate, such as bold single vineyard zinfandel or new world cabernet and cabernet blends. There are a few red blends incorporating syrah that would pair well and I just had this mind-blowing Spanish grenache, alto moncayo, veraton that was fantastic with dark chocolate. But I am partial to all things dark chocolate

OMC: Do milk chocolate and dark chocolate work better with different varietals?

CD: That they do for lighter chocolate – not white. Pinot noir could come into play, something from Oregon with a little more acidity or bright berry characteristics pair well with lighter or milk chocolate.

OMC: How about things like chocolate truffles, things like that? Because of more complex flavors do they demand a less complex wine?

CD: I prefer a more complex wine with truffles. The more complex the flavor, you should look for brooding complex red that is higher in concentration. These wines can be viscous and higher in alcohol and can stand up to complex chocolate flavors without getting dominated by something like a truffle.

OMC: What about for desserts that have warm or hot chocolate, like a molten cake, for example?

CD: With something that incorporates another sense I would look to a port, sherry or Madeira. Port to compliment the chocolate and give another texture to the heat by coating your palate and sherry to pull it in another direction, the nutty flavor that can be pulled from a sherry or the saltiness of Madeira gives an added dimension to a warm chocolate cake.


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