Tess’s Picks: The BEST wine and chocolate pairings for Valentine’s Day

Published: Friday, February 09, 2018 @ 1:40 PM

Chocolate and wine are a perfect pairing. PHOTO / Tess Vella-Collette
Chocolate and wine are a perfect pairing. PHOTO / Tess Vella-Collette

Next week is Valentine’s day. For some people this sounds thrilling, but for many people I know -- even people in relationships -- the thought of celebrating Valentine’s Day is akin to getting dental work done: painful and awkward.

>> The right way to pair your Dayton chocolate with wine 

My own husband is not what we would call a romantic. Now before I get myself in hot water, I will say that he is a lot of other things that are far more important: he is supportive and smart, inquisitive, funny and he is like, really hot. So I’d take all of those wonderful qualities over gifts, but Valentine’s Day isn’t exactly a day where he shines. I can remember a only few times in our 5 years together that he has gotten me flowers, and one of those times I actually had to utter the words: “Okay, you should probably get me flowers now.” (Did I mention he’s a good listener?) But because of this, sometimes I have to take the reins and make Valentine’s Day a thing. And the kinds of things I want on Valentine’s Day are wine and chocolates. 

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Whether you are gearing up for a sexy night with your sweetie or watching “The Notebook” with some gal pals, here are my perfect pairings with your chocolatey treats.

Milk Chocolate and Pinot Noir

I feel like not only do these wines work nicely as a pairing, milk chocolate and pinot noir are similar in the sense that they are both non-offensive flavors. With white and dark chocolate, people either love them or hate them, but milk chocolate is a middle ground that nearly everyone can agree upon. Same goes for pinot noir: it’s light and fruity, dry and balanced; there are no flavors that smack you over the head. It’s just an easy wine to enjoy. 

The pinot noir I’d recommend with your favorite milk chocolate is from MacRostie Winery. Their 2014 MacRostie Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir is one of the best wines I’ve tasted in a long time. It’s complex and juicy, and a balance of acidity to cut through the creaminess of the milk chocolate. The wine has hints of bing cherries, blackberries, and blueberries...imagine those flavors paired with your chocolate. Sounds to me like a match made in heaven!

This wine is perfect for a special occasion with your sweetie, retailing for $34. It will amplify any night from regular to romantic! 

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Champagne pairs well with white chocolate. Tess recommends the JCB N°69 Crémant de Bourgogne, a sparkling rosé. Contributed photo

White Chocolate and Champagne

Oddly enough, white chocolate is my least favorite kind of chocolate, but champagne is my favorite of all the wines. White chocolate is the sweetest, and the key to the right pairing is to find a wine to match the level of sugary goodness, and champagne is the perfect sweet, bubbly, tart compliment. 

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The champagne I highly recommend with white chocolate is the JCB N°69 Crémant de Bourgogne. This is a sparking rosé, and it’s my favorite sparkling wine, hands down, always. Seriously, this wine has my whole heart. The wine is produced by famous winemaker Jean-Charles Boisset. He assigns each of his wines with a number which holds some significance in his life. 1969 is the year in which he was born, and also a year of freedom, creativity and sexual expression, so this just may be the perfect wine for you to enjoy on Valentine’s Day...ya know what I mean? (wink wink...hint hint...am I being subtle enough?) The wine is bright and tart, with lots of red berry flavors. Think chocolate-covered strawberries ... mmmm. Try this wine and it’ll be like cupid struck an arrow right through your heart. 

You can find JCB around in stores, the price is typically around $30, and it is perfection in a flute.

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A 2013 Nadia Cabernet Sauvignon pairs perfectly with dark chocolate. Contributed photo

Dark Chocolate and Cabernet Sauvignon

Finally onto my favorite chocolate, dark, rich, and slightly bitter. (I feel like I’m describing a person.) Dark chocolate is the most complex in flavor with an earthy quality, and the type of chocolate I find the most satisfying. Because of it’s decadent, deep, dark flavors, it is a chocolate that I think is best in smaller doses. This cannot be said for the suggested wine, however, drink that shit up. Red wine is good for you, right?!

Just like the dark chocolate itself, Cabernet Sauvignon is earthy, deep and complex. The particular cab that I recommend is the 2013 Nadia Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine is extremely rich and tannic. It highlights flavors of dark fruit, pepper and tobacco which compliment the cocoa flavor perfectly. This big, bold, California cab marries with the intense, rich flavors of your dark chocolate bite. 

This can be found around town for about $20. 

Ok - here’s the part of the program where I get a little snooty and opinionated. I am not a cab person. They are so in your face and smack you over the head with tannins. Many people like that type of thing, but it’s just not for me. Instead of a big Cali cab, with dark chocolate, I opt for a Chianti Classico. I much prefer Italian reds over Californian, (sorry, guys) and Chiantis are still round and robust, bold and rich in flavor - all the elements that stand up to dark chocolate, but they have a much smoother finish. If you’re like me (elitist? High maintenance? Pain in the ass?) and can’t stand tannic wines, try a Chianti instead!

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So there you have it, some perfect pairings for the sweetest day of the year. Go ahead and cozy up to your lover, friends, or your cat. Don’t mind the red wine teeth, just enjoy! Cheers and ciao! 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tess is a restaurant professional, home-baker and downtown Dayton dweller. When she's not mixing drinks for restaurant patrons, she's drinking champagne, buying shoes, or writing her blog, Ciao Vella. You can read about her home recipes, party planning tips, and more at www.CiaoVellaBlog.com

Tess Vella-Collette shares three tips about purchasing art. CONTRIBUTED

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Local pastor reacts to death of Rev. Billy Graham

Published: Wednesday, February 21, 2018 @ 9:34 AM

NEW YORK - JUNE 21:  The Rev. Billy Graham speaks at a news conference about the upcoming Greater New York Billy Graham Crusade June 21, 2005, in New York City. The crusade will most likely be Graham's last mass event in the United States and will be held Friday to Sunday in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.  (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Mario Tama/Getty Images
NEW YORK - JUNE 21: The Rev. Billy Graham speaks at a news conference about the upcoming Greater New York Billy Graham Crusade June 21, 2005, in New York City. The crusade will most likely be Graham's last mass event in the United States and will be held Friday to Sunday in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)(Mario Tama/Getty Images)

A Springboro pastor called Rev. Billy Graham a “Godly man” and remembered being a part of a crusade in St. Louis.

“I had the privilege of being a part of his crusade in St. Louis in 1999,” said Mark Goins, associate pastor at Newspring Chruch in Springboro. “Always appreciated the fact he lived what he preached.”

PHOTOS: Billy Graham’s last visit to the Dayton area

Graham, who long suffered from cancer, pneumonia and other ailments, died at his home in North Carolina at the age of 99, according to the Associated Press.
RELATED: Evangelist Billy Graham dies at 99

Graham preached to millions across the globe and counseled several presidents during his life.

“He didn’t confine his ministry to just local,” Goins said.  “He had a voice to speak into the lives of leaders.”

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Do you want to be a speaker at TEDxDayton?

Published: Wednesday, February 21, 2018 @ 11:00 AM

Have you ever heard of Ted Talks?

After five successful years of sparking energetic curiosity, inspirational conversations and meaningful connections, TEDxDayton is ramping up for its sixth year with big aspirations.

Organizers of the 6th annual TEDxDayton event have announced that they are now accepting applications from speakers who want to give a TED talk at this year’s event on Oct. 12, 2018, at the Victoria Theatre in Dayton.

>>PHOTOS: TEDxDayton 2017

The theme for this year’s event is “SHIFT.” 

“We chose a theme that reflects a new era for TEDxDayton,” event co-chair John Owen said in a news release. “We’ve had five strong years, and as we go into our next five, we’re looking for creative ways to change and improve the experience for the audience, while paying tribute to the ideas, speakers and spirit of the events we’ve had up till this year.”


Since the very first licensed TED talk in 1984, TED talks have been a platform for short, carefully prepared talks, demonstrations and performances that foster learning on a global scale, as well as in local communities.

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(Amelia Robinson)

“This year’s speakers will be helping us build upon five great years of sold-out TEDxDayton days that have seen the event become one of the most talked-about in town,” said event Co-Chair Ron Rollins. “We’re looking for people who know they have an idea worth sharing that will help the audience see and think of the world in a new and different way.”

>>Meet the 2017 TEDxDayton speakers

Cory Owen, who is co-chairing this year’s speaker’s committee along with Brenden Wynn and Chelley Seibert, said the committee is looking for speakers who can teach and inspire — speakers who will leave the audience still talking as they leave the theater.


Potential speakers should complete the speaker application on www.tedxdayton.com by March 30. 

The speakers committee will review all applications and invite selected candidates to auditions on May 5, 8 and 10, according to a TEDxDayton press release. 

Participants will be notified within a few weeks of auditions if they have been selected to be a TEDxDayton 2018 speaker.

>>PHOTOS: TEDxDayton 2016

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‘What Had Happened Was’ Podcast, Episode 3: All funked up with Ohio Players’ Diamond Williams 

Published: Wednesday, February 21, 2018 @ 11:27 AM

Cover of the Ohio Players album
Cover of the Ohio Players album "Honey." The funk band was formed in Dayton, Ohio.

Screaming “fire” in a crowded room and getting people to dance instead of run -- that’s funk for you.

Amelia Robinson, host of the new “What Had Happened Was” podcast, sat down with James “Diamond” Williams of the Ohio Players right here in the Land of Funk.  

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More than 40 years after the Players struck it big, their long list of hits — “Skin Tight” “Fire,” “Love Rollercoaster” included — still make people move. 

With Diamond -- one of Rolling Stone magazine’s top drummers of all time -- at the helm, the Players are working on a new album. Last year, they released the single “Reset.”

The Ohio Players are lead by "James "Diamond" Williams. Founded in Dayton, the band is working on a new album.

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Diamond does not hold back during his chat on the podcast. He shares his thoughts on everything from fast cars and sexy women on album covers to why the Players aren’t in the Rock Hall of Fame (yet) and why Dayton (the Land of Funk) doesn’t have an Ohio Players Way (yet). 

Strap in. The ride is about to get funky. 

Want more “What Had Happened Was” in your life?


Get the latest episodes delivered directly to you. Find it on iTunesGoogle PlayStitcher and other services. 

About the podcast:

“What Had Happened Was” is a podcast for Dayton, powered by Dayton.com. You won't believe the stories that come from right here. Host Amelia Robinson shares the best tales from the Gem City, Land of Funk and Birthplace of Aviation: Dayton, Ohio.

Catch up on past episodes of WHHW:

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James Diamond Williams, born and raised in Dayton, joined the Ohio Players in 1972 and remained with them while they churned out many top 40 hits. CONTRIBUTED(Contributing Writer)

The Ohio Players are lead by "James "Diamond" Williams. Founded in Dayton, the band is working on a new album.(Hand-out/Ohio Players)

There is so much to love about Montgomery County: The Ohio Players were the trailblazers of a virtual Rhythm & Blues empire with its roots in Dayton. This band popularized a specific genre of R&B music known as Street Funk. They were the first American band from the Dayton area to go gold with an album earning over $1 million and the first to go platinum with an album selling a million copies. They have been called the premiere R&B band in the nation during the 1970s, popularizing a distinctive Midwestern sound and reaching an international following with European and Japanese tours. The Ohio Players music continues to energize artists of subsequent generations, and many young hip-hop musicians cite the influence of their sound.(HANDOUT)

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New record high temperature set at Dayton airport

Published: Tuesday, February 20, 2018 @ 11:51 AM
Updated: Tuesday, February 20, 2018 @ 6:59 PM

Windy day in Dayton

A new record high temperature for Feb. 20 was set this morning at Dayton International Airport breaking the previous record set in 2016.

The temperature reached 70 at Dayton International Airport around 11:30 a.m. to break the record. Then later in the afternoon the temperature peaked at 75 establishing a new benchmark. 

RELATED: Record-breaking warmth today; widespread showers expected overnight

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