It would hardly be a romantic Valentine's Day dinner without a couple glasses of bubbly and a sweet bite of chocolate. We'll show you some of our favourite picks and what to look for when pairing.
There’s something about those luscious little bubbles that make drinking champers such a visceral delight, or the spine-tingling thrill of biting into rich dark chocolate — especially after a sip of wine reserved for a special occasion. Canadians love their chocolate and wine, and what better excuse to enjoy them together than Valentine's Day? But before you splurge, know what to buy. We asked our wine expert Elsa Macdonald to weigh in on the best bubbly for the occasion, and how to pair wine and chocolate for the perfect romantic night in.
Those signature bubbles
Wine expert Elsa Macdonald explains that effervesce, which pros refer to as the mousse, is one of the most important part of the sparkling wine experience. “The best examples melt in your mouth while others may seem foamy and aggressive,” she says. But before bubbly gets bubbles, it’s simply a high quality white wine. During a second fermentation, carbon dioxide is released; normally it evaporates, but when fermentation occurs in a sealed environment (like a Champagne bottle) it dissolves back into the wine. The longer the wine and bubbles hang out together under bottle pressure (called en-tirage, which happens for a minimum of 15 months), the finer the bubbles become which creates that sought-after creamy mousse sensation. When properly stored, Champagne (made from grapes grown in the Champagne region of France) or other sparkling wine can keep up to 20 years.
Because true Champagne comes with a hefty price tag, stay close to home and try Canadian sparkling. Elsa suggests Jackson-Triggs Entourage. Produced using grapes from the Niagara or Okanagan wine regions, it’s aged en-tirage just like Champagne, for over two years. It is crisp, dry, and elegant. $24.95
Italy knows a thing or two about romance and bubbles! Try Ruffino Prosecco. It is a light, fruity, faintly sweet-style of Prosecco. Slightly lower in alcohol, it’s an easy sipper on its own or mixed into cocktails before dinner. $17
Chocolate and wine? At the same time?
Elsa’s realistic no-rules approach makes it a breeze to match food and wine, especially when it comes to chocolate: “Eat what you like and drink what you like!” But she can offer some guidelines: Try to ensure your wine is sweeter than your food. If the food is too sweet it will make the wine taste less sweet and fruity – maybe even astringent. So, when it comes to chocolate, she cautions to watch the sweetness levels of the pairing. Pair dark chocolate (60% cacao or higher) with a full-bodied red wine, such as Ravenswood or Lodi Zinfandel. If you’re drinking something sweeter, such as Taylor Fladgate’s Late Bottle Vintage Port, try it with milk chocolate. (Though dark chocolate still works well!)
Elsa Macdonald is the Director of Wine Education at Constellation Academy of Wine. She’s our go-to expert for everything wine, and throughout the year will help us demystify, debunk and understand a little more about the noble grape — in layman’s terms. Have a question about wine? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org