Celebrate a homegrown Valentines Day

with N.C. wine, chocolate, and cheese pairings

Madeline Gray—North State Journal
Food and wine pairings on Tuesday

You can set the mood by setting the table with local products this Valentine’s Day. With the many choices of rich North Carolina cheeses and chocolates hitting the market from producers across the state it is easy to find the perfect treat pairing for your favorite wine or spirit. The trick is to be aware of the delicate palate balance, because as perfect as this matchmaking may look they can clash if not done right. Wine can taste bitter if it is less sweet than the chocolate you are serving alongside it. For instance, the sweeter spirits like Fair Game Beverage Co.’s Scuppernong Tipper or Duplin Winery’s Carolina Red are best coupled with a sweet white or milk chocolate.”Category 5 is our best-selling wine. It’s a blend of cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, merlot, petit verdot, and syrah,” said Assistant Tasting Room Manager Katie Rodgers of RayLen Vineyards and Winery in Mocksville. “It’s named Category 5 because of those five varietals, but also as a metaphor for our big, bold red blend.”On what flavor cheese or chocolate to choose Rodgers suggests, “Pair Category 5 with a strong aged cheese and a raspberry dark chocolate.”Wine and cheese make for a dynamic duo. North Carolina now has a cheese trail where dairy farms, cheesemakers, and those supporting the industry have joined together to promote the work they are doing. One way to determine your cheese preference is to plate a variety with labels and jot down notes on what wine matches up best with which cheese.The mix and match options for teaming up local treats and North Carolina spirits are endless. From the mountains to the coast, businesses like Roots & Branches even give you the option of including N.C. crackers in the mix.Taste and experiment — the best way to determine what you enjoy is to try.