Expand your palate by adding cheese and chocolate pairings to your next Wine Night

I recently discussed hosting your own wine night to expand your wine knowledge and preferences. This week I want to share one of my favorite ways to host a wine night: hosting a wine, cheese, and chocolate night.

The idea expands the basic wine night. Instead of asking your friends to bring a bottle of wine along a theme, ask your friends to bring a favorite cheese or chocolate and a wine that pairs well with it. 

While it might be tempting to let this be a free for all, simply pouring a glass of wine and snacking on the cheese and chocolate, you’ll learn a lot more by tasting each pairing individually. During the tasting, try the wine first followed by a bite of cheese or chocolate before tasting the wine again. You’ll be amazed at how the food can change the flavors of the wine. You might find a wine you didn’t like on first taste becomes one of your favorites when paired with the right cheese or the chocolate. Once you’ve tasted everything, pour yourself a glass of your favorite and snack to your heart’s content.

Pairing cheese and chocolate with wine might seem simple at first, but there are specific pairings that will really highlight the wine. For example, Gouda pairs well with Merlot and Goat Cheese pairs well with Chenin Blanc. If you prefer chocolate, you’ll want to find a high quality chocolate bar and a fruity Zinfandel or a California red blend to pair with it (or try the Prima from Bodegas San Román with some dark chocolate, I've heard an excellent pair). Anything light will get overpowered by the chocolate. Not sure what to get? Some stores, such as Balducci’s or your local wine shop, will offer suggested pairings for each of their cheeses.

If you’re thinking of hosting your own Tuesday wine night, consider making it a wine, cheese, and chocolate night. Why not make the night even better by combining some of your favorite things?