Saying it?s been a stressful few weeks for everyone would be an understatement. It feels like our lives were turned upside down in the blink of an eye, which takes anyone a minute to adjust to. While I?ve been trying to avoid eating everything in sight, I do find a lot of value in a (large) glass of wine and a piece bar of chocolate at the end of the day to wind down. I personally find them soothing and a way to end the day on a positive note.

Pairing chocolate and wine

Now, some people will argue with this (there?s a big debate in the wine world), but I?m a big fan of chocolate and wine as a pairing. I love that there are so many varieties of chocolate you can pair with different varietals. However, there can be some challenges to finding the perfect pairing.

Chocolate has tannin, just like red wine, which can be offputting for some people. Tannins dry your mouth and can make food or drinks taste bitter if they?re not well-balanced. The darker your chocolate, the more tannin you?ll have.

However, some people really enjoy this combination. It?s hard to argue for pairing a 90% cacao chocolate bar with a sweet Riesling or an ice wine- most people are not going to love this pairing because the chocolate?s intensity will completely overwhelm the light, sweet wine.

If you like chocolate and red wine, the rule of thumb I use is to increase the intensity of chocolate as the boldness of the wine increases. For example, a dark milk chocolate bar can pair really well with a Pinot Noir or a Beaujolais, while a dark chocolate bar might work with a Zinfandel or Syrah.

Some people also really enjoy white chocolate with dry red wine because white chocolate doesn?t have tannin. This is because the tannin is found in cacao, which is not in white chocolate.

One caveat I?ll make is to be careful pairing big, bold reds with a cayenne and dark chocolate bar. Spicy foods can clash with the (generally) higher alcohol content and tannins of red wine. A lighter red wine or even a sweet wine may work better with spicy chocolates.

Like many issues in wine, it really comes down to your personal preference. If you love dark chocolate and red wine, go for it. Prefer to be overloaded with sugar? Stick with a sweet wine and white chocolate. And don?t be afraid to experiment! The worst thing that will happen is you find a pairing you don?t like. Use that to inform the next pairing you try, polish off the chocolate bar, drink some water, and then finish the glass of wine. Is that really so terrible?

More ways to relax- with or without wine

If you?d rather relax in other ways, I have a few ideas for you- all wine related of course! If you?re more of a soak in the tub for a few hours kind of person, wine soap is a fun way to get your wine fix without drinking. It comes in a variety of varietals so you can soap up with your favorite.

Need to spend some time meditating? How about a wine candle? Inspired by the different scents in wine, these candles have beautiful scents that are sure to help you get zen.

If you get your best relaxation by communing with nature, a wine tumbler, canteen, or picnic tote might be the way to go- just make sure to maintain your distance from others if you?re at a public park. Backyards and driveways are also great places to picnic without going anywhere.

What?s your choice of ways to relax? Do you go the chocolate and wine route like I do, or are you more into the bubble bath or nature route?

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