Our Wine of the Week, Louis M. Martini 2015 Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon ($20), is rich and lush, with firm but not rough tannins, a focused structure, and a finish that lingers pleasing.
Aromas of anise, allspice, and clove mingle with the scent of blackberries warmed by the sun. These aromas unfold on the palate in a progression of sweet spices, black pepper, cocoa, and a hint of Cassis.
The wine is excellent with beef, as you would expect, and venison, either grilled rare or in a Provençal-style daube. When local halibut comes into season, this will be a nice wine to enjoy with it, especially if you use black olive tapenade or black olive butter as a condiment.
But it’s Valentine’s Day and many people would prefer to simply jump straight to chocolate. Before you leap, be sure to grab a bottle of this wine, as it is an excellent match with bittersweet chocolate.
If you want the match to truly soar, add some salt to the mix. This could be as simple as enjoying a glass with some of the salted chocolates so readily available these days. Or you could go in the opposite direction, to a dessert of chocolate pasta napped in a rich vanilla sauce with drizzles of caramel and flakes of salt. The recipe is much too long for this column so you’ll find at it “Eat This Now” at pantry.blogs.pressdemocrat.com.
A much simpler dish but one that is equally elegant is traditional chocolate mousse spiked with a bit of salt. For the best match, do not use table salt. Use Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt in the mousse itself and top it with Maldon Salt Flakes or a salt that has similar large flakes. There’s an almost magical alchemy with these ingredients that flatter both the mousse and the wine.
Salted Chocolate Mousse
Makes 6 to 8 servings
10 ounces best-quality bittersweet chocolate, cut into bits
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, in small pieces
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 extra-large eggs, separated
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon, approximately, Maldon Salt Flakes
Put the chocolate and butter in the top part of a double boiler set over barely simmering water. When the ingredients are melted, whisk in the vanilla, egg yolks and kosher salt. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Put the egg whites and cream of tartar in a dry mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer at medium speed until they form soft peaks. Slowly sprinkle in the sugar, beating at high speed until the egg whites are stiff but not dry. Fold one-fourth of egg white mixture into the chocolate mixture. Fold in the remaining egg white mixture; do not over mix.
Pour the mousse into individual serving dishes such as ramekins or stemmed wine glasses. Sprinkle a few flakes of Maldon Salt on each portion.
Refrigerate at least 4 hours before serving.
Michele Anna Jordan is the author of 24 books to date, including “Vinaigrettes and Other Dressings.” Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.