Typically you have to make two trips to pick up wine and chocolate for Valentine's Day, but you can cross both items off your list with the new Chocolate Cherry Wine from Pirtle Winery.
"I was just kind of thinking of a new wine. We make a Cherry wine and I love chocolate covered cherries, so I thought why not," says Scott Pirtle, owner of the Weston winery.
Pirtle has experimented with a number of different fruit wines over the past few years -- producing apple, cherry and blueberry wines as well as honey-based meads. The Cherry Chocolate wine will be produced year round, but he sees it as perfect for the romantic holiday season.
"It's something that you and your girlfriend would enjoy. I call it a chocolate covered cherry in a bottle -- with a kick," says Pirtle.
The wine pours an electric red, the kind of color feared by those with white couches. There's a whiff of sour cherries, which is encouraging because it suggests that this wine will not be as sweet as most dessert or fruit wines. I have sampled cherry wines that are dangerously close to cough syrup.
I don't know if I'm susceptable to the power of suggestion, but the wine did evoke the taste of chocolate-covered cherries. There was a similar initial squirt of cherry flavor and then the chocolate arrived to finish it. If you hold the wine in your mouth, the chocolate becomes more prominent.
The wine takes flight if you try it with chocolate -- I grabbed a handful of Ghirardelli 60 percent cacao bittersweet chocolate chips and then took a sip. The wine became brighter and warmer. So, while the wine is drinkable on its own, it shines with the pairing. Dark chocolate would be best, because Pirtle has used cocoa beans to imbue the wine with some depth that places it firmly in the camp of a red, and not just in color.
It's stocked at Berbiglia ($12.95 on special right now), Gomers and Hy-Vee Liquors -- a full list is available here. You can also go to the Weston winery for a tasting.