Wine and chocolate seem to be two of the world's favorite comfort foods. A good glass of wine can make any dinner seem more romantic, any bad day a little better and any lonely night a little warmer. A good dose of chocolate has chased away many a case of the bad-breakup-blues, tamed the savagery of a day spent trying to please the boss, and kept many a single girl from crying herself to sleep. Now, I suppose that once upon a time, admitting you paired your Pinot Noir with your Hershey bar might have made you seem pathetically dire and disheartened. Society, however, has finally figured out that our two favorite self-indulgences are perfect for each other. The society mavens and trend setters have stolen the lonely girl's perfect night in, transforming it into a fun and fresh night out - the wine and chocolate party.

You don't have to be a connoisseur to participate in the latest thing to hit a candy bar since foil wrappers. You don't have to know if white or red goes better with a good rib eye steak. You don't have to know your Californians from your Australians from your Italians. Or your dry whites from, well, whatever isn't. All you have to do is be a good matchmaker.

Hosting a wine and chocolate party is somewhat like being a good marriage broker. Every yenta has her "list" of eligible, desirable bachelors to choose from. Every wine and chocolate hostess should have a similar list. You can start with the wine, or you can start with the chocolates - it really doesn't matter. I'd suggest going with whichever you are most comfortable with. If you don't know Chablis from Champagne, start with the sweet stuff. If you aren't quite certain just what those percentage of cacao numbers are telling you, better hit the wine cellar first. Either way you go, you can't lose as long as you choose sweeter wines and/or a variety of chocolates. You'll want red and white wine both, as well as some bubbly. On the chocolate side of things, try to select fro the entire spectrum - dark, milk, white, and a few of the in betweens.

White chocolate may seem like a misnomer and I'm certain Montezuma and the rest of his cacao-pioneering band of Aztecs would probably be frightened to death of the pale, ghostly stuff. It has, however, its own merits in the chocolate world. Its light, smooth, buttery creaminess helps it to stand out among its darker cousins, despite its lack of any real cocoa butter. I suppose you could say it was the pinnacle of chocolate engineering. What goes best with the stuff that's tops of the lists - from the winning jockey to the New Year? Why champagne, of course! Now, you needn't have the "real" stuff from the Champagne region of France. A nice sparkling domestic will do the trick just as well. If you and your guests are in the mood for something a bit noble and different, try a good Sherry. If a more subtle taste experience is desired, pairing white chocolate with a cr?me or chocolate liqueur is sure to delight the pallette.

Milk chocolate may seem too common for a party. After all, it's been America's favorite chocolate since Milton Hershey way back in the 1890's, right? It's that common, every man experience that makes it a wonderful addition to your wine and chocolate party, especially if all or most of your guests have never been to one before. The milder, less complicated taste and aroma of milk chocolate make it a perfect pairing with Merlot, Pinot Noir or tawny port. Port has a nuttiness that compliments milk chocolate's caramel undertones, while the darker wines will bring out its creamy, subtle chocolate side to perfection.

Semisweet chocolates, those with 50 to 69% cacao, have a spicier, fruitier, earthier note to their taste. Which wine you pair with them depends on which of those tones you wish to highlight. Zinfandel wines will accent the chocolate's spicy side, setting the mood for a mambo in your mouth. A nice Cabernet Sauvignon is sure to bring out the fruitiness of the chocolate. Beaujolais can also serve nicely to stress the fruity nuance of many semisweet chocolates.

Dark, or bittersweet, chocolate is the queen of the chocolate world. Much has been touted concerning its health benefits. Pair those benefits with the reported health-inducing factors of wine and who needs an excuse to have a party? We can say we're doing it for our health! Dark chocolate is classified as having 70% or more cacao content. This high amount of cacao is responsible for the "good for you" factor, and gives the chocolate dark, rich, woodsy flavors. Most of the same wines that go well with semisweet chocolate also make nice matches with its darker cousin. For a real treat, try pairing a nice dark chocolate with a good cognac. Orange Muscat goes well with almost any chocolate, but the darker the sweet, the better the Muscat seems to become. The rich, woodsy flavors of the darker chocolates pair themselves nicely with almost any strong, red wine, so try a shiraz or nebbiolo in the mix, too.

A successful wine and chocolate party will offer about a dozen sweet varieties of chocolate and the same number of wine pairings. Variety is the key. Don't just stick with plain old chocolate bars, either. Dip some fruit in chocolate - strawberries in white would be heavenly with your champagne/sparkling wine. Indulge in some truffles – . Salty sensations also go well with wine, so perhaps some chocolate covered nuts or pretzels would make a nice addition to the menu. For a quick and easy party on the fly, ask each guest to provide a treat from one of the chocolate categories (white, milk, semisweet or dark.) Then, have a selection of wines to match up with whatever delights walk through your door. Put some jazz on the stereo and sip and nip your way into a comfortable, fun evening of tasty delight. Chocolate and wine needn't be for the lonely at heart anymore!

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