Pairing wine with chocolate seems simple, but it can actually be a tricky endeavor. Luckily, you and your friends are up for the challenge! Below are 10 tips to ensure your relaxing "Chocolate & Wine Pairing Party" is a success. A big thanks to Brookside for sponsoring today's "pairing" post.*
Balancing family, work, and life requires constant re-adjustment. As moms, we sometimes get single-sighted and all wrapped up in our family's immediate needs that keep coming our way...
finding that missing headband, loading the cooler with healthy soccer snacks for the team, getting supplies for an upcoming school project, doing what feels like a never-ending mountain of laundry, prepping dinner, helping with homework, packing tomorrow’s lunchbox, scheduling that overdue dentist appointment
...that we sometimes forget ourselves and our own needs in the whirlwind of all that caretaking and doing, doing, doing.
It's important to remember, though, that before you were a wife or a mother, you were YOU.
Don't lose yourself.
Of course, I realize, this is easier said than done.
So, here's a tip... When you start to feel like you're losing sight of yourself amid all their details, zip an email or a text off to schedule a post-dinner Girls Night with your friends. Tell your family that sometimes Mom needs a "playdate" with friends, too.
Then make a commitment to yourself to keep the conversation focus on YOU (not just on your family).
If you know you'll likely default back to kid-talk with your friends, intentionally schedule something fun and interactive to keep you fully "present" and doing an activity of YOUR choice...
- See a lecture and have drinks afterward to chat about it.
- Hit the dance floor and BOOGIE.
- Wear crazy shoes and go late-night bowling.
- Go hiking or take a fitness class to get your blood pumping together. Or...
- Host a "Pairing Party" to experiment with different wine and chocolate combinations!
Now, pairing wine with chocolate may seem like a simple task, but it can actually be a bit tricky. Obviously, wines and chocolates come in a host of flavors. This can make pairing the "right" type of wine with the "right" type of chocolate a precise science (or so aficionados tell me). Luckily, you and your friends are up for the challenge, right?
Below are 10 tips to ensure your Chocolate & Wine Pairing Party is a relaxing, you-focused success!
10 Useful Tips for Hosting a Chocolate & Wine Pairing Party
Let's get started...
1. Use what you have on hand to decorate one small space in your home. Throw a pretty tablecloth over the coffee table. Poof! It just became your Chocolate & Wine Pairing table. Now grab that Lazy Susan out of the cupboard to serve as your revolving wine tray. Groovy. Look at you go! Next, dig through those dusty wedding gift boxes in the basement or attic. Find a serving platter or tray to showcase your wine glasses. Display your different types of chocolate in old mason jars. Grab retired throw pillows for seats around the coffee table. See? You can keep the party prep fairly simple, but still be chic. Remember, your friends want to see and connect with YOU. So don't worry if the rest of your house is chaos. Focus on making your one designated area special and welcoming.
2. Pick your chocolate. Before choosing wines, choose the types of chocolate you want to serve: milk, dark, and/or white. Pick indulgent treats that speak to you! Brookside Dark Chocolate makes some sophisticated chocolate treats that you can simply open and pour into mason jars, and they look (and taste!) great. This snip-it from their website totally made me smile...
Indulge in smooth dark chocolate and exotic fruit and berry flavors. It’s like a first-class tropical vacation for your taste buds. Without the 18-hour flight."
Sold. That's exactly what we're looking for here—a short, no-stress mini-vacation for the evening.
Currently, Brookside makes three dark chocolate-covered snacks with intriguing fruit-flavored centers:
- Açai & Blueberry Flavors—From the Amazon rain forest comes the origin of Açai berry flavor wrapped in smooth dark chocolate.
- Pomegranate Flavor—Rich fruit flavors of the Mediterranean burst from a luscious dark chocolate coating.
- Goji & Raspberry Flavors—The flavors of dark chocolate, Goji berry (a Far East delicacy), and raspberry form an utterly new sensation.
They're extraordinarily delicious and a super-easy, no-fuss way to serve bite-sized, delectable chocolates at your Pairing Party.
3. Pick your wine. With a bit of research, I discovered that the best type of wine to pair with a dark chocolate treat was generally a red wine. There are two different theories on chocolate and wine pairings:
- Likes connect: Match sweet to sweet
- Opposites attract: Match sweet to dry sophistication
So, here's a handy printer-friendly Wine Sweetness Chart for you to print and take with you shopping.
Here are my favorite picks... (Note: The hands-on research for this post was a treat in itself. I can hardly wait to host a Pairing Party!)
- Matching sweet with dry: Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon
- Matching sweet with sweet: Beaujolais Nouveau, Port, Shiraz
Tip: If you're looking for an alternative to wine, champagne or sparkling wine is said to compliment all chocolate types.
4. Serve hors d’oeuvres. I always like to set out a few munchies whenever I'm serving spirits. These don't have to be anything fancy. Some crunchy and salty snacks (think pretzel crisps, crackers, nuts, or rye chips) sometimes make for a nice contrast before or after the smooth, creamy chocolate-tasting portion of your party.
5. Hand out goodie bags. Include cute pen-and-paper sets for taking notes. Add a tiny mason jar full of chocolates with a short handwritten note, too. (Or, honestly, let your guests jot notes on scrap paper from around the house during the party and send them home with leftover chocolate in plastic sandwich bags. It's all good either way!)
6. Establish your tasting order. You'll want to line up your wines or chocolates in a recommended tasting order. When you're sampling wines, the standard is to drink from dry to sweet whenever possible. It has to do with some crazy biology with your tongue, but just remember dry to sweet—kinda like YOU after a few glasses of wine. (Ha!)
7. Set out palate refreshers. Between each tasting, you'll want your guests to be able to refresh their palates. Water, pretzels, plain bread, or even those butter crackers your kiddos love, all work well as refreshers. Each of these items help cleanse the palate so the flavor from one pairing to the next doesn't interfere with the flavors.
8. Have small (leakproof) waste buckets for the table. Keep wine samples small from pairing to pairing. This Chocolate & Wine Pairing Party is an opportunity to experiment and try new flavors. Give friends an option for a polite "out" by providing waste buckets. You can't expect your friends to like all the wine options. Let them know it's OK to toss one out if it doesn't suit their tastes.
9. Get your friends engaged straightaway. The minute your friends walk in the door, have them twist off caps and uncork bottles to let the wine breathe. If you've got a decanter in the house, use it! Make this party a group activity.
Your goal for the night: Find a wine that compliments the high cacao content of a semi-sweet chocolate coating while still highlighting the sweetness from the fruit.
10. Be kind to yourself. Remember, things don't need to be perfect for the evening to be fun. In fact, let me go ahead and lower your expectations right now (to help guarantee success)...
MOM TRUTH: If you ask me, meeting up over any bottle of wine (or champagne!) and Brookside Dark Chocolates (even if it's the half-eaten bag of them you munched on with popcorn during Family Movie Night last Friday!) with friends constitutes a Chocolate & Wine Pairing Party to me. Whether your dressed to the nines or in your yoga pants, celebrate all your sides.
Here are three combinations Brookside recommends to get your Chocolate & Wine Pairing Party rolling:
Pinot Noir + BROOKSIDE Dark Chocolate Pomegranate Flavor
Pinot Noir: The nose exhibits bourbon vanilla, raspberry jam, and oak, allowing red fruits to layer with blackberry and raspberry, highlighted by spice notes, with a lingering smooth tannin finish.
BROOKSIDE Dark Chocolate Pomegranate Flavor: Smooth, semi-sweet dark chocolate surrounds the flavors of a bright, ripe pomegranate.
Note: Opposites attract when bursting fruit juice sweetness meets dry sophistication.
Cabernet Sauvignon + BROOKSIDE Dark Chocolate Goji & Raspberry Flavors
Cabernet Sauvignon: Vanilla, black fruits, and toasted oak fill the nose as blackberry jam, toasted oak and vanilla linger on the palate. Smooth, medium to full-bodied, with a lingering pleasant finish.
BROOKSIDE Dark Chocolate Goji & Raspberry Flavors: Smooth, semi-sweet dark chocolate drapes the lush exotic flavors of goji, highlighted with the flavor of fresh, sweet raspberries.
Note: Dark chocolate pairs well with more robust wines, such as Cabernet Sauvignon. A red wine with a note of berries harmonizes well with the sweet flavors of the chocolate.
Merlot + BROOKSIDE Dark Chocolate Açai & Blueberry Flavors
Merlot: The bouquet is filled with blackberry, plum, black raspberry, vanilla and spice, filling the palate with an abundance of blackberry, subtle pepper, and layers of toasted oak and vanilla, leading to a slightly dry, fruity finish.
BROOKSIDE Dark Chocolate Açai & Blueberry Flavors: Smooth, semi-sweet dark chocolate surrounds a bright, fruity flavor hint of açai, highlighted with the flavor of ripe, lush blueberries.
Note: Actually all of the BROOKSIDE Dark Chocolate flavors play nicely on the palate with Merlot.
You deserve a night with friends, whether it's hosting a full-fledged Chocolate & Wine Pairing Party or just hanging out with a bottle of wine and a bag of Brookside Dark Chocolates with your BFF. The math is simple...
Before your meet-up though, take a moment to remind yourself:
I am a mom, but also a(n) __________. <--- Fill in the blank.
I am a mom, but also a photographer.
I am a mom, but also a business woman.
I am a mom, but also an awesome tennis player.
I am a mom, but also a writer.
I am a mom, but also a kayaker.
I am a mom, but also a tattoo lover.
I am a mom, but also a quilter.
I am a mom, but also a killer karaoke singer.
I am a mom, but also an artist.
I am a mom, but also a friend.
Think about all the ways you could fill in that blank. Then realize you don't have to be just one thing.
Dark chocolate + exotic fruit flavors are what set Brookside Dark Chocolates apart... What fabulous features make YOU an intriguing and multidimensional woman?
When we embrace all the unexpected combinations we are in life, we find our true selves.
Wishing you an amazing night with your friends!
P.S. If you try any of the Brookside Dark Chocolate & wine pairings above, let me know what you think of them in the comments (or drop me a line on Facebook).
Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored post.” I am participating in a campaign for Brookside Chocolate and am receiving a fee for this article. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am in no way associated with Brookside Chocolate and do not earn a commission or percentage of sales. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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