Chocolate: choose healthy & pair well!

As we approach Valentine’s Day, which chocolate will you choose? Learn more about healthy options.

by Jeana Steiner

We feel education around our food is so important and the more self-educated we become – the better we can be at choosing healthy options for our family. Last year I wrote an article about the recent consumer reports study regarding heavy metals in common chocolate brands. Chocolate has been one of those staple treats we’ve enjoyed as a family over the years. If you’ve been to our house for dinner, you know we will often have a square of dark chocolate or berries and cream for dessert. It has become a tradition, and our kiddos prefer dark chocolate rather than the sweeter kinds. With Valentine’s Day just around the corner and chocolate on people’s shopping list, we hope we can help educate you on some new “go to” options.

Pairing wine and chocolate has always been interesting and delicious when paired well. When deciding what chocolate we wanted to carry in the tasting room, last spring we traveled to the Seattle Chocolates Factory for a tour and tasting to learn more about their process. It was super informative, and we’d highly recommend it. We carry the Seattle’s sister brand, jcoco in the tasting room and we love pairing them with our various Lagriōth Wines. If you are in the Seattle area, you can book a visit here.

jcoco is one of our favorite chocolates. Chocolate that pairs well.

Here is the link to the Consumer Reports- Chocolate Article. With this in mind – we’ve put together some of our favorite pairings this Valentine’s Day as well as pairing with wine and some of our favorites that made the “better list”.

I put together a table with our wines to serve as an example since we offer a range from whites to lighter and darker reds. 

Here are some other interesting articles for your enjoyment.

Estate Pinot Noir and jcoco - a great pairing. Pair well my friends.

Caption: jcoco and Estate Pinot Noir. 

Lagriōth WineChocolate Recommendation
2022 Naked Chardonnay, Lake Chelan AVAMerrow’s Milk Chocolate or a ~50% dark truffle
2022 Estate Pinot Noir, Lake Chelan AVAGhirardelli’s Milk Chocolate 
2021 Denny’s Red Blend, Columbia Valley AVASanders- Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramel
2021 Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain AVAElements truffles with turmeric 
2019 Merlot, Beverly Vineyard, Col. Valley AVASeattle’s Chocolate Dark Chocolate 
Heart of the Hill Cabernet - a great match up for your Valentine. Pair well my friends.

Caption: Red Mountain, Heart of the Hill Cabernet.

A peek of some of our favorites

 Ghirardelli – Dark and Milk Chocolate- This chocolate is consistently smooth and flavorful. These are always a treat when visiting San Francisco to see the flagship store. I like that Ghirardelli has individually wrapped chocolates with a variety of flavors. I enjoy white chocolate very much and think the Ghirardelli white chocolate pairs nicely with Pinot Noir.

Seattle Chocolate – as a women owned company, committed to sustainability – targeted towards sustainable and regenerative farming practices. We carry a selection of Jcoco in the tasting room. We love their array of flavor combinations and currently feature many of them.

            Elements truffles – A sent a collection of Elements chocolates to us over the holidays and they were delicious. After reading about their philosophy, it lines up nicely with our philosophy. “Be kind to your body, indulge joyfully and our clean chocolate powered by the science of Ayurveda”.  They are dairy free, refined sugar free, gluten free, soy free, and ethically sourced. They even donate 25% of their profits. You’ll find chocolates infused with cardamom, peppermint and lavender, turmeric and saffron. We are ordering some of our favorite flavors to serve at the tasting room, so come give them a try.

            Merrow Chocolates – Anna, a local chocolatier is a creative genius. Her chocolates are all handmade and a truly exquisite experience. We’ve worked with her to create special chocolates for events and people love them. She offers dark, light, filled, dressed up or plain…. We offered one she made using our pumpkins. You can find her chocolates by contacting her directly.

Since the report was published there has been more studies and here is a list from of some products that have shown to have high levels of heavy metals.  Eating well Article

Here is the list of products that contain excessive amounts of lead and/or cadmium:

Dark Chocolate

Sam’s Choice (Walmart) Dark Chocolate 72% Cocoa

Divine 85% Exquisitely Smooth Dark Chocolate

Evolved Signature Dark 72% Cacao Chocolate Bar

Perugina 70% Premium Dark Chocolate

Perugina 85% Premium Dark Chocolate

Chocolate Chips

Good & Gather (Target) Semi-Sweet Mini Chocolate Chips

Hu Dark Chocolate Gems

Cocoa Powder

Hershey’s Cocoa Naturally Unsweetened 100% Cacao

Droste Cacao Powder

Hot Chocolate

Trader Joe’s Organic Hot Chocolate Mix

Starbucks Hot Cocoa Classic

Great Value (Walmart) Milk Chocolate Flavor Hot Cocoa Mix

Brownie Mix

Ghirardelli Premium Brownie Mix Double Chocolate

Cake Mix

Simple Mills Almond Flour Baking Mix – Chocolate Muffin & Cake

Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Chocolate Cake Mix

“Milk chocolate bars were also tested in this report, but none of them posed a risk for high counts of heavy metals. Because of this, Consumer Reports recommends swapping one of these dark chocolate products with milk chocolate, as milk chocolate is a less likely source of lead and cadmium.” 

I hope this has been educational and insightful. If you’re looking for something for Valentine’s Day – have fun and enjoy exploring your own chocolate pairing. Just keep it simple and have fun with it. Finding nice wines to partner up might be easy if you live near small wineries or have a great bottle shop nearby to find a boutique wine. 

We’d love to hear some of your favorite chocolates and what wines you enjoy with them. 

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!!