My favorite treat when I need a pick me up or when I'm celebrating is chocolate, usually paired with one of my favorite red wines, a Pinot Noir or a Zinfandel. So I was curious to try See's Candies paired with champagne, Merlot, a dessert wine, and a stout last week at their new Church and Market location.
When it comes to chocolate, being a native Californian who was raised just up the hill from See's Candies' South San Francisco facility, I've always preferred See's Candies to Hershey. (My favorite commercial holiday was Easter because it meant my favorite See's Candies, Chocolate Butters and Bordeauxes, were available in sizes as larger than my fists.) I was excited last week to attend a wine and chocolate tasting at the new See's Candies at Church and Market Street, just a few blocks away from where we lived in The Mission when we first started dating.
There are a lot of varietals, but not all of them lend themselves to being paired with sweets (it's the acidity of the wine that makes or breaks the pairing, higher acidity balances the sweetness). Some great resources for understanding the basics of pairing wines with desserts that I recommend are:
- The Nibble's Guide to Pairing Wine and Chocolate.
- Julian Rossello of Vino in Love's post on how to match desserts with sweet wine
- Palate Press's explanation how sweet Chenin Blancs from different appellations in France's Loire Valley should be considered throughout the meal and not just with dessert (note that this is not true for Chenin Blancs from California or South Africa).
Muscat Canelli with Key Lime Truffles, ScotchMallow, and Raspberry Cream
My favorite pairing of the night was the Raspberry Cream with the Ceago Muscat Canelli. I also really enjoyed the Key Lime Truffle with the Muscat. What made these pairings work for me was the tartness of the raspberry and the lime. (I don't like ScotchMallows so I skipped this particular pairing.)
Champagne with Raspberry Truffle
Not all champagne works with dessert. When selecting a champagne to pair with a sweet, you're looking for demi-sec or sweet. While you might think the Raspberry Cream would work in place of the Raspberry Truffle you would be wrong. The intensity of the raspberry is subtler in the truffle than the cream. The in-your-face raspberry of the Raspberry Cream would over power the sparkling wine.
Dark Chocolate with Almonds with Ravenswood Merlot
Another classic pairing that I frequently enjoy was presented: dark chocolate with Merlot. Only ducking into See's Candies stores to grab a few bites of my favorites (Milk and Dark Chocolate Butters, Dark Chocolate Mocha, and Milk and Dark Chocolate Bordeauxes if you're ever inclined to treat me to some) and being bombarded with See's Candies Milk Chocolate Bars during fundraising season I didn't know See's Candies had dark chocolate bars. You can't go wrong with this pairing.
Peanut Brittle with Guinness Stout
I've never been much of a peanut brittle fan, but this pairing had me thinking differently. I'd always enjoyed the chocolate undertones in Guinness Stout and regularly choose porters when picking out beers, so now it seems obvious that Guinness would be the perfect dessert drink. The pairing of peanut brittle and Guinness was the one I most dubious about and almost didn't try. The Guinness softened the sweetness of the peanut brittle and highlighted more of the salty crunch of the peanuts. If you're more of a savory than sweets person, I'd definitely give this pairing a try.
About See's Candies on Market Street
The See's Candies shop at Church and Market (conveniently accessible via the Muni J-Line, the F-Line, or by car) is unlike any others in San Francisco, it's double the size! Most shops are about 1000 square feet, this one is 1900 square feet and boasts two candy counters as well as island registers for those picking up pre-packaged chocolates (which is never me as I'm all about stuffing those one pound boxes with 20 or so pieces of my favorites).
For me, the larger store is perfect as I've always avoided See's Candies during their peak holidays (Christmas, Valentine's Day, Easter, and Mother's Day) as the crush of people was overwhelming to me. The layout of the store has lots of open floor space, even with tasting stations set up and guests waiting to sample the pairings, it was easy to move around. At no point did I feel claustrophobic which has sadly happened before in other See's Candies stores.
For parents, your quick trip into See's Candies may take a little longer with kids, especially little ones. The glass display cases are lower and there are more of them with the double candy counters which means kids have more options to explore and to discover. (It's a good thing that See's Candies, unlike ice cream parlors, doesn't let you sample the chocolates before you buy them or you'd never get out of there.) I for one can't wait to introduce Gates to this See's Candies. It's the only candy store in the City where she can look up and see the chocolate for herself. Her mind will be blown (I promise to try to capture her reaction on video).
Credits: All layouts designed by and images taken by Eden Hensley Silverstein for The Road to the Good Life.
Disclosure: My husband and I attended a complimentary wine and chocolate pairing event at See's Candy to celebrate the opening of the new store and received gift bags with two pounds of See's Candy, two boxes of peanut brittle, and two boxes of lollypops. All opinions presented are my own.