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Chocolate, Cherries & Wine again

February 22, 2011

The first Post I wrote on January 16th was Chocolate, Cherries & Wine. I haven’t mentioned this triumvirate since…until today…
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Years ago, DH & I visited Napa Valley, thoroughly enjoying our self-directed tour, we would strike out by 10 each the morning, tour wineries, pay for reserve tastings which we shared & learn all we could about grape-growing & wine-making in this part of California. Much to my surprise, I discovered that if I start drinking wine early every morning, I barely craved chocolate at all, didn’t really even think about chocolate all day… much… but I digress…

The more I have learned about wines the more I want to learn & to taste. Napa Valley is a great place to begin to understand how weather effects grapes, how environmental factors such as the local eucalyptus trees effect flavors in the wine. Standing at Cakebread Winery, our very first stop, I watched a rainstorm move toward us. Ready to seek shelter, our tour guide told us to wait & watch, as the storm stopped & reversed its course then changed direction again, never even coming close to us. Wind flow through the valley determines the amount of rainfall in any given region, which is mapped showing the fifteen American Viticultural Areas within the Napa appellation. With the Mayacaymus Mountains on the west & north, the Vaca Mountains on the east, microclimates similar to Mediterranean geography make this valley perfect for growing the best grapes, making some of the best wines in the world.

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At Domaine Carneros, an end-of-the-day unplanned stop, we tasted assorted wines with toasted almonds in between. As we were leaving I noticed a bottle of chocolate pinot noir sauce – of course I bought it! Ever since I have been trying to duplicate the flavor – the delicious combination of flavors – that poured from that bottle. It was amazing over ice cream. It was wonderful over pound cake. It was fabulous on a spoon all by itself!

Cherries in Red Wine

Though not the chocolate pinot sauce, this sauce is delicious over ice cream, pound cake or on a spoon by itself!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 teaspoon Vanilla
  • 2/3 cup Brown Sugar
  • 3 fresh Basil Leaves
  • 2 3-inch strips Lemon Zest (orange will work in a pinch)
  • 2 cups Syrah or fruity Merlot
  • 2 1/2 pounds Dark Sweet Cherries, fresh or frozen
  • 2 ounces Unsweetened Chocolate

Instructions:

  1. Combine all ingredients except cherries & chocolate in heavy saucepan.
  2. Add cherries; Heat almost to boil & turn off heat.
  3. Let cherries sit in liquid 1 hour.
  4. Remove basil & zest.
  5. Drain cherries & save liquid.
  6. Boil & reduce liquid to 1 cup.
  7. Add chocolate, stirring until melted
  8. Add cherries back to syrup & serve over ice cream.

And, Happy 279th Birthday, George Washington!

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