On Feb. 14, one can safely assume that chocolate and wine are two of the most popular food and beverage choices. But, often overlooked are the health benefits of both of these things. Valentine’s Day isn’t just a day to give away your heart, but to care for the one that you have too.
Chocolate and wine, which pair to create a divine combination, have many similarities. The way in which some describe the flavour nuances of wine can be likened to the complexities of dark chocolate, but more importantly, both have highly sought after nutritional benefits.
Both chocolate and wine contain flavonoids which can greatly improve our vascular health. Flavonoids are found in cocoa beans as well as in grape skins, therefore making the most heart-healthy choices dark chocolate and red wine. The darker the chocolate or the more grape skin contact in wine, the greater the amount of antioxidants found in each product.
These antioxidants help repair damaged cells and protect against free radicals. They also contain polyphenols, which influence our health by reducing blood pressure and increasing blood flow to the brain, enhancing cognitive performance. Wine is well known for containing resveratrol, which has received a great deal of positive attention for its Cancer prevention properties.
Beyond cardiovascular health, there is even evidence to suggest mood-boosting effects. Chocolate contains phenylethylamine, which is a natural antidepressant.
However, when it comes to pairing wine and chocolate, it’s not always as easy as it may seem. Sweeter chocolates combine best with sweeter wines. The more sugar and fat in chocolate (such as milk chocolate), the lighter and sweeter the wine should be. Another suggestion is trying to match textures. For instance, milk chocolate with a creamy Chardonnay. Or, contrast textures by pairing white chocolate with a refreshing sparkling wine.
Serious chocolate and wine lovers tend to head straight for heavy reds with intense dark chocolate because red wine is known to tone down the bitterness of chocolate. The two compliment each other by making the chocolate taste sweeter and the wine smoother. This may be one reason why this classic pairing remains a fan favourite. While knowing the health benefits, one can indulge (to a certain extent) guilt-free.
The wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake have capitalized on the love we have for chocolate and wine by introducing a tasting program during the month of February. Every weekend, the 28 participating wineries offer a sample of wine, served along side unique chocolate pairings. It’s a wonderful way to spend a weekend and experience a multitude of flavours.
Even if you are not a fan of Valentine’s Day, there is no reason why you cannot indulge in the wonderful combination of chocolate and wine. It is a pairing that can be celebrated every day.