PERFECT MATCH Want to seduce someone this Valentine's Day? Just share a glass of wine (or three) with your sweetheart. Wine is liquid sensuality: its heady bouquet stimulates the appetite and its velvet caress soothes that desire. What other drink is described as both voluptuous and muscular? And when you pair wine with the mouth-coating luxury of chocolate, the combination is impossible to resist.
We asked Natalie Maclean, author of Red, White and Drunk All Over (Bloomsbury, 2006) and the woman behind the food-wine matcher at www.nataliemaclean.com, to give us her romantic suggestions of chocolate pairings with California wines. Here's her top 10 list:
•Dark chocolate and Cline Ancient Vines Zinfandel, Contra Costa County
•Chocolate-covered biscotti and Beaulieu Vineyard Coastal Cabernet Sauvignon
•Chocolate-orange cake and Andrew Quady Essencia Orange Muscat
•Chocolate with nuts and Santa Barbara Winery Syrah, Santa Ynez Valley
•Milk chocolate and Greg Norman Lake County Zinfandel
•Bittersweet chocolate and Round Hill Cabernet Sauvignon California
•Chocolate-dipped fruit and Gallo Frei Ranch Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma
•Chocolate ganache truffles and Toasted Head Shiraz California
•Chocolate raspberry cheesecake and Bonny Doon Framboise
•Chocolate hearts with cream filling and Francis Coppola Diamond Collection Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon
"The creamy flavors of chocolate go best with full-bodied wines like those that California produces," Maclean says. For more pairings including a variety of wines from all regions paired with a wide range of foods visit her Web site, check out her book, or join the 85,000 people who are subscribed to her free e-newsletter.