Here we are early into the New Year, starting fresh and working hard to stick with our resolutions – many of which revolve around health, diet, and exercise. Now that February has arrived, we are hit with our first big challenge! Valentine’s Day! Yes, it is about love and romance but there is also a huge emphasis on candy, especially chocolate. And what pairs exceptionally well with chocolate? Red wine! So, now the sabotage begins and it is only February. Fortunately, it is not ALL bad – at least that is what the research shows, and there is a lot of it.
February is also National Heart month, which led me to do some research into any health benefits to red wine, and hopefully chocolate too! The consensus seems to be that red wine, in moderation, has long been thought to be heart healthy. Red wine contains antioxidants such as flavonoids or a substance called resveratrol which is shown to have heart-healthy benefits. The highest flavonoids are found in dry red wines. The red wine with the highest amount of flavonoids is Cabernet Sauvignon followed by Petit Syrah, Syrah and Pinot Noir. Some of my favorites – great news! So what about chocolate? Chocolate has over 300 naturally occurring chemicals. Chocolate was also found to have potent antioxidants called phenols, which are the same types found in red wine. The highest amount of phenols are found in the darker chocolate – that is chocolate with 70% cocoa content or higher.
So, what does this all mean? The healthiest indulgence would be a big red wine with a dark chocolate. It just so happens that the best match for a big red wine – high in tannins – is dark or bittersweet chocolate. To verify these results, I did some taste tests myself. I whole heartedly concur. This is great news for the upcoming Red Wine and Chocolate weekends here in the Lake Chelan Valley. Our winemakers are producing fabulous red wines and there is plenty of delicious chocolate to be found. But it is always best to keep in mind – Everything in Moderation!