Well, very much in this spirit I've discovered a new spin on a vice to share with someone I/you/we love. Wine & chocolate matching - the best excuse for an off-the-cuff catch up. Waitrose contacted me to get involved with their National Chocolate Week campaign - how do you say no to an email like that!? - sending me a delicious bottle or two of wine and a few packages of chocolates so, I turned it into an excuse to spend some quality time with a few of my loved ones for no reason other than because we can.
Disclaimer: We received ingredients for participating, but no positive reviews were requested in exchange. My (many) opinions are only ever my own.
Just think of it like this, for under £20 you can arm yourself with an excuse to step away from the social media, stretch your tastebuds and spend a comfy night away from the cold hard reality of daylight. All you need is a bottle of something delicious (I have the world's worst sweet tooth and opted to try a few - a sparkling wine, a port and a dessert wine - all in the name of thorough blog testing you understand.) The Waitrose grocery team have pegged together a variety of suggestions for National Chocolate Week which we found was a great guide to start off from.
Our particular tipples this time were;
Cockburn's Special Reserve Port - "this sumptuous port has a youthful nose packed with aromas of red cherry and hints of plums and strawberry. On the palate it's sweet and smooth with luscious red berry flavours leading to a fresh fruity finish." We agreed wholeheartedly (though far less eloquently) and loved this against a sampling of white chocolate blondies specially made, and the age old tradition of a cheeseboard.
Campbells Raglan Muscat - 'Sticky sweetie' dessert wines are my favorite kind, being unctious and indescribably rich and this is "super-sweet and golden, a raisned, honeyed wine made from 100% Muscat à Petits Grains Rouge". Funnily enough we enjoyed this best with a dark chocolate tart, the milk and dark chocolate making for a nice contrast to the nectarous glass.
It is the easiest party to throw - simply invite a couple of friends, make a few selections, perhaps bake something and pull up a couch.
If you like there are a few steps you can try to enhance the foodie qualifications of the night...
1. Preparation: Your chocolate should be served at room temperature, whilst the wine should be served according to variety - red wines at room temperature and white or rose chilled.
2. Taste the wine: Swirl the wine around in the glass before smelling it to help open up the complexities of the aromas. Swirl the wine around your mouth and if you can, draw in air at the same time. Think about the flavours, textures and how the wine develops.
3. Try the chocolate: Take a bite size piece of chocolate and like you would with wine, smell the chocolate taking in the aromas such as spice, fruit, vanilla etc. Then look at the colour and finally place the chocolate in your mouth and allow to dissolve. You should start to pick up the flavours of the chocolate
4. Now try the wine: While you still have a small amount of chocolate left in your mouth, take a sip of the wine and swirl around your mouth, making sure that the chocolate and wine blend together.