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Wine Scene: How to get the most out of Red Wine & Chocolate weekend

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Selberg Sweet Chocolates are being served with Van Arnam Vineyards wines in Zillah on Red Wine & Chocolate weekend.

Pairing chocolate and wine? Some might call it sacrilegious. But it can also be “sacrilicious,” especially during the Yakima Valley’s Red Wine & Chocolate weekend

Feb. 15-17.

When properly paired, red wine and chocolate create a delightful indulgence — one that has become a Northwest tradition in Yakima Valley’s wine country.

Despite the similarities of wine and chocolate, pairing the two takes thought, know-how and an opportunity to experiment on how the flavors work together. When properly paired, red wine and chocolate combinations create a delightful experience. To maximize your Red Wine & Chocolate weekend, consider the following suggestions:

When pairing wine and chocolate, it is preferable to first taste them individually. Taste the chocolate again, letting it melt on your tongue, and then take a sip of wine to combine their flavors and textures. Chocolate will not melt at room temperature, so it is difficult to properly taste the chocolate if you already have a mouthful of wine.

For an ideal pairing, avoid wines and chocolates that are overly tannic in nature; otherwise, the tannins will compete with each other, resulting in a muddled and flat combination.

When drinking buttery or sweet whites, salted milk chocolate provides a stunning contrast. This may come in the form of something like a salted caramel confection with milk chocolate or a dark milk chocolate bar with salt throughout.

Wines with savory notes, such as smoke, wood or meaty qualities, are outstanding when paired with chocolate with a smooth texture and similar savory notes, such as leather, cheese or smoke.

When drinking full-bodied wines with bold flavors, a chocolate that is hearty and rustic in texture with a similarly pronounced flavor works best.

Wines or chocolate with similarly distinct notes, such as black pepper, can be mutually enhanced when paired together.

Where to go

Now that you know how to best pair the two, you can design your itinerary for the festivities. Here is a glimpse of what you can experience during Valentine’s weekend:

Gilbert Cellars in downtown Yakima is featuring a curated flight of three premium red wines paired with truffles from Seattle Chocolate.

Selberg Sweet Chocolates is on tap at Zillah’s VanArnam Vineyards for the Valentine weekend. In addition to the weekend’s standard tastings, Premier Pass holders will enjoy reserve and library wines.

Wit Cellars in Prosser is partnering with Wine O’Clock Wine Bar and Chukar Cherries. Be sure to join winemaker Flint Nelson for private vertical tastings of the 2015, 2016 and 2017 petit verdot. Tastings cost $15 per person and will be held every hour.

Fortuity Cellars at the Yakima Valley College campus in Grandview is featuring library wines paired with small bites by chef Lara of Fat Pastor Productions.

If you are looking for something new, be sure to stop in at two of the Yakima Valley’s newest wineries: Freehand Cellars, 420 Windy Point Drive in Wapato, and Bosma Wines, 513 First Ave. in Zillah.

Regardless of how you choose to celebrate your weekend, the best way to experience the event is with a Premier Pass. Pass holders receive access to exclusive pairings, library tastings, a glimpse at future vintages, discounts and more.

The weekend is all about tasting wines, kicking back and treating yourself and your Valentine to a lovely time in a really beautiful place.

Information, maps and passes are available at

• Barbara Glover is executive director of Wine Yakima Valley, an industry group representing member wineries.

Reach Pat Muir at

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