My husband and I don’t exchange Valentine’s Day cards or gifts. Because, 20 years ago, I gave him a Get-out-of-Valentine’s-Day-Forever-Card as a wedding gift. It’s why I’m the best wife ever. But I will shamelessly use St. Valentine as an excuse to open four bottles of wine on February 13th. Yep, tonight we’re opening four bottles, and pairing them with St. Valentine’s favorite . . . Chocolate Covered Strawberries.
Whoever first decided to dip a strawberry into melted chocolate should be knighted. Genius.
Chocolate Covered Strawberries are über-easy to prepare. Just three ingredients to Nirvana: strawberries, chocolate chips, and a little shortening. Ta-Dah!
But what to pair with that kind of genius?
Here’s our tasting lineup:
Mumm Napa Brut Rose Napa Valley — Pink bubbles! This is a Valentine in a glass! I don’t even need to taste it, and it’s making me happy. The Mumm Brut Rose is a blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Retail price is around $25. Zippy, clean and fun by itself. As pretty and iconic as this pairing is, the Chocolate Covered Strawberries (CCS from now on) aren’t doing the wine any favors. It’s not awful . . . but it’s not as good as it looks in the brochure.
Broadbent Malmsey Madeiera — America’s original oenophile, Thomas Jefferson, was a big fan of Madeira. And I’m a big fan of Thomas Jefferson. Ergo . . . I love Madeira. The Malmsey is 100% Malavasia. Retail price is around $50. This is beautiful stuff. A big glass of tobacco, coffee and figs. With the CCS, though, it morphs into pure heat and acid. With chocolate alone, it’s superb. With a strawberry alone, it’s just insulting to the Madeira. I’m going back to enjoying this solo . . .
Cooper Vineyards Noche — Noche is a dessert wine starring Virginia’s native grape, Norton, and infused (I’m unclear from Cooper’s website exactly how it’s infused) with chocolate. Retail price is around $17. I’ve tasted this before, and I remember liking it. Tonight, not so much. It smells like Cocoa Krispies, and tastes like Robitussin. With the CCS, it tastes like someone squirted Hershey’s chocolate syrup in Robitussin. My husband pronounced it “totally heinous” (you can take the boy out of California, but you can’t take California out of the boy).
Jackson-Triggs Vidal Icewine — This is a traditional VQA Icewine from the Niagara Peninsula in Canada, made with the Vidal Blanc grape. Retail price is around $35 (for the 375mL bottle). Solo, this tastes like a roll of Tropical Fruits Lifesavers (when you eat 3 or 4 at once) and it has some zing to it, even if it is a touch cloying. But because it’s sweeter than the CCS, it’s ends up a beautiful partner. Winner!
Hubby Rankings Solo: Icewine, Madeira, Pink, Noche
Hubby Rankings with CCS: Icewine, Pink, Madeira, Noche
My Rankings Solo: Madeira, Pink, Icewine, Noche
My Rankings with CCS: Icewine, Pink, Madeira, Noche
Going into this experiment, I would have put money on Madeira as the hands-down winner . . . and it finishes in 3rd place. I guess that means I need (get?) to keep experimenting!
* Note: I didn’t have any Lambrusco on hand for this test, but I think it might have been a great pair as well.