By Monica Kosior

There are not many things better in life than wine perfectly paired with chocolate. But not just any wine, and not just any chocolate.

Participating Wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake have chosen their best VQA wines to complement locally made chocolate-infused dishes for the Days of Wine & Chocolate event. A purchased tasting passport will provide attendees with an out-of-the box journey through savoury and sweet pairings.

Why should you attend? Because you will have an opportunity to taste inspiring dishes and wines, that for the majority, are cellar door exclusives. It will give you a chance to try something new and to try something not available at the LCBO.

After speaking with Brent Livingstone, brand ambassador at Pondview Estate Winery, one of the biggest benefits to visiting Niagara for such events is the proximity between locations. Every year wineries are trying to innovate and not duplicate previous pairings, which gives returning attendees something new to look forward to the following year.

He also made a very good point: “When is it ever a bad day to visit Niagara?” February may be a gloomy month, so let’s spice it up with the Days of Wine & Chocolate.

Now that I have you excited and potentially drooling, let me share some of the pairings I have enjoyed thus far.

Chocolate and wine

Best Niagara food

Stratus paired their 2012 Wildass Red with Backhouse’s  Wildass Chocolate Chili with Soma ‘Bachelor Hall’ Jamaican Cocoa Nibs. Deep smoky flavours are tied together with this meaty chili.

Rancourt Winery served up their 2013 Chardonnay Reserve with Harvest Barn’s  lobster bisque topped with white chocolate shavings. Bet you never thought chocolate would pair with seafood.

Pillitteri Estate Winery paired their 2013 Cabernet Merlot with a dark chocolate cup filled with milk chocolate mousse and Cabernet Merlot raspberry compote. The raspberry shines in both the dessert and wine.

Pondview Estate Winery served up their 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon with succulent ribs smothered in a delicious chocolate concoction. Finger-licking good ribs with one heck of a wine.

The Hare Wine Co. paired their 2013 Crown Land Red with an Ecuadorian bitter dark chocolate with freeze-dried strawberries. An interesting twist on the classic chocolate covered strawberry.

Château des Charmes served up their 2015 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay with a ginger cookie and white chocolate drizzle. The perfect combination of sugar and spice.

If you consider yourself a weekend warrior, you could potentially visit all 24 wineries between Friday to Sunday. Or if you prefer, make this a month-long adventure, pick and choose a few options per weekend. I will continue my endeavours next Saturday — I hope to see you enjoying along side me! Cheers!

Dates: Feb. 3-5, 10-12, 17-19, 24-26
Location: Participating wineries available here.
Cost: $45 (plus taxes) per person, $25 (plus taxes) per designated driver purchase online  here.