Tag Archives: Chocolate

How to Pair Chocolate With Wine

You’re planning a romantic evening for you and your honey, and you want to invite two of your best friends – food and wine. You need to get the right balance though. After all, you don’t want to wake up the next morning with a horrible hangover and a pooch. Which wine would go best with which chocolate? You need to investigate properly. You’ve decided to buy a huge box of Russell Stover assorted chocolates. The dark one might go well with the Cabernet, but you need to be sure. Just one more bite, a little more chocolate, and a little more wine. You wake up the next day surrounded by chocolate wrappers and an empty wine bottle.

Sure, experimentation is a great way to find the best wine and chocolate combinations, but it may not be the best idea to attempt to get it all figured out in one night. If you are a novice to the wine and chocolate marriage, it may be a good idea to give yourself a little bit of a starting point before taking on.

Chocolate and wine

The Chocolate Should Not Be Sweeter than the Wine You Pair It With
If you’re planning to pair a syrah or merlot with your chocolate, the wine should be as sweet as the chocolate. You’ll need to do an advanced taste test, but this shouldn’t be too much of a pain. If the wine is not as sweet as the chocolate, the wine will taste bitter, and you don’t want that.

Purchase Quality Chocolate
When pairing with wine, your chocolate should be of impeccable quality. No generic chocolate bars for this. Go for the premium ones instead. They cost more, but they’re worth it.

Pair According to the Darkness of the Chocolate
The general rule is that the darker the chocolate, the darker the wine, so a dark chocolate calls for red. If you are pairing with a white wine, an intense and fruity variety is the best match for the bittersweet and occasional acidic taste of chocolate.

Look for Wine with Smooth Tannins
Smooth wine goes with smooth chocolate. When it comes to pairing wine with chocolate, soft, rounded tannins work best.

Full-bodied Wines Go with Intense Chocolate
If ganache brownies are on the menu, make sure you have a wine that can stand up to them.

Go From Light to Dark
Obey the rules of wine-tasting by starting with the light stuff and intensifying the experience gradually. Begin your odyssey on a light note with white and milk chocolate, moving gradually to a medium intensity. End with the darkest and most bitter of chocolates, and matching your wines in ascending order of darkness and weight.

White chocolate and wine

White Chocolate
When it comes to white chocolate you want a wine that will pick up more buttery tones of the confection. Best bets include Chardonnay, Sherry, Muscat, or Moscato d’Asti.

Milk Chocolate
Dessert wines, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Reisling, Muscat and Pinot noir are all great matches for milk chocolate, as is champagne. Bubbly provides a crisp dry contrast for the creaminess of the milk chocolate, as the fruitiness of red wines may be cancelled out by high sugar levels, leaving the wine tasting bitter.

Dark Chocolate (50-70%)
Intense chocolate calls for intense wine. Savignon, Cabernet, Zinfandel, and Pinot Noir are all good complements for dark chocolate and a Chianti matches well with a chocolate with a 65% content of cocoa.

Bittersweet Chocolate (70%-100%)
Chocolate gourmands consider bittersweet chocolate the creme de la creme, so you need a wine that can take on the range of flavor. Think Beaujolais, Shiraz, Bordeaux, Orange Muscat, and Zinfandel for the bitter stuff. Also, feel free to try a sparkling wine or champagne with a variety of chocolates. Dessert wines are also generally well suited to chocolate.

How did your wine-and-chocolate pairing go? Let us know once you’ve hit the sweet spot – we’d love to hear all about it!

Wine and Other Heart Healthy Foods And Beverages

In Greek history, wine has always played a major role in sparking profound dialogue and wild sex. From the orgiastic Dionysian rituals to the philosophical discussions between Plato and Socrates, wine was just as openly exchanged as thoughts and bodily fluids. Indeed, the connection between wine, intense conversation, and physical pleasure seems to have held up through the years and cultures, but, in comparison to its history, the connection between wine and heart health is a rather new discovery.

In the past years, researcher have looked at foods and supplements to analyze the ideal components of a heart-healthy diet. Here are some heart healthy foods and beverages, wine included, that made the list.

Red Wine
Red Wine and Heart Health
Studies show that people who drink moderate amounts of alcohol have a lower risk of heart disease than nondrinkers, with further studies showing that red wine may actually offer extra health benefits. It contains flavonoids and resveratrol, which can limit hardening of the arteries.
In addition, according to the American Heart Association, one to two alcoholic drinks per day has been shown to increase “good” (HDL) cholesterol, while lowering “bad” (LDL) cholesterol and may also reduce instances of blood clots.

Chocolate and Heart Health
The discovery that dark chocolate and cocoa are good for the heart is truly revelatory. Chocolate is rich in antioxidants called flavanoids which keep blood vessels healthy and aids them in their ability to expand.

Those of who prefer white chocolate are less fortunate. While one study showed that eating dark chocolate daily reduced blood pressure and reduced LDL, no such benefits were found as a result of eating the white variety.

Fish Oil and Heart Health
Fatty fish is rich in omega-3 fatty acids that may help fight heart disease. According to the AHA, the best aquatic candidates for a healthy heart include lake trout, salmon, albacore tuna, mackerel, and sardines.

Alice Lichtenstein, DSc and professor of nutrition science and policy, says that she has reviewed studies crediting fish oil with decreased instances of cardiovascular disease, concluding that those who eat more than two servings per week are at a lower risk level.

Cholesterol Lowering Foods
Certain foods contain plant sterols that are shown to decrease bad cholesterol. These include cholesterol lowering margarine, chocolate bars, yogurt, and some orange juices. However, although these products have been shown to lower cholesterol, they should be used in moderation as part of a heart-healthy diet low in saturated fat.

Veggies
Fruits and Vegetables and Heart Health
Lichtenstein says, “We’ve been very disappointed with supplements in general, especially with respect to cardiovascular disease.” She adds, “All the major vitamin E intervention studies have shown no significant effects.”

The solution? More fruits and veggies! Judith Levine, RD, MS advises eating ” a rainbow of fruits and veggies, incorporating reds, blues, greens, and orange/yellows for a well-balanced heart healthy diet.

What do you eat to keep your heart healthy? Let us know what tops your list of heart-healthy indulgences!

Science Says Eating These Foods Make You More Happy

Your diet is directly linked to your health, and not just your physical health. The foods that you choose to eat can improve your mood, keep you calm and increase your overall levels of happiness. If you want to be healthy and happy, consider adding the following five mood-boosting foods to your diet.

Coffee beans.

Coffee
If you can’t imagine a morning without at least one cup of coffee, then this study will make definitely make you happy. Research from the Nurses’ Health Study shows that the risk of becoming depressed is 15% lower in women who drank two to three cups of coffee each day. That number increased to 20% in women who consumed four or more cups of coffee daily. Researchers believe that this is due to the caffeine content found in coffee. Caffeine increases dopamine and serotonin transmission in as little as 30 minutes.

Yoghurt

Yogurt
Eating cultured dairy products increases your probiotic bacteria (the healthy kind of bacteria) in your gut, but it may also do a bit more. A UCLA health study indicated that women who consumed probiotic yogurt twice daily had a decreased stress response when shown images of angry or frightened faces. This finding aligns with a study that found mice who were fed a probiotic had a significantly diminished stress response during the completion of a maze and being forced to swim (two activities that generally stress rats out). The theory as to why cultured dairy increases happy is that your gut and brain send messages via the vagus nerve and probiotics may send a message to remain calm and lessen stress. When you go to the market for your yogurt, be sure you are buying yogurt that is labeled as having “live and active cultures.”

Dark chocolate

Chocolate
The idea that chocolate makes you happy may not be new to you, but there is actual science behind why this happens. You know that dark chocolate contains tons of antioxidants, perhaps most beneficially polyphenols. Studies have shown that one of the polyphenols in dark chocolate actually mimics the effects of marijuana on the brain. An Australian study showed that individuals who consumed a drink with high doses of dark chocolate received a contentment and calmness that other participants didn’t. When choosing your chocolate, remember that the darker it is, the better it is for you. Strive to always eat chocolate with a cacao content of 70% or higher.

Walnuts

Walnuts
A Nurses’ Health Study discovered that women with the highest levels of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) in their diets were less likely to be depressed than those with a low intake of ALAs. The science behind this mood-boosting food is pretty straightforward: when you have low levels of ALA, inflammation in your body increases which is linked to depression. Not consuming enough alpha-linolenic acid actually decreases your natural levels of dopamine and serotonin, leading to depression.

Steamed clams.

Clams
Clams are loaded with vitamin B12, which is may keep you happy. Low levels of B12 can lead directly to depression, because the vitamin is necessary in order for the brain to function properly. Studies show that people with depression who added a B12 supplement to their antidepressants had significantly improved mood after a three-month period. Don’t worry if you don’t like clams, you can also get B12 benefits from tuna, salmon and beef.

Your diet not only keeps your body healthy, it can keep your brain happy as well. By stocking up on the five foods above, you feed your body and brain with essential vitamins, minerals, chemicals and antioxidants that help you perform at your highest, and happiest, level.