When Easter comes, there'll most likely be a lot of chocolate around, and it's no harm to start making plans for what to do with it.
Eat it, I know - obviously - but in this column you'll be expecting some wine matching advice, and chocolate is a bit of a tall order when it comes to wine, because of its sweetness and coating, creamy consistency. If you're a fan of the dark, complex kinds of chocolate that don't bother with milk or sugar much, you still have some tricky flavours to contend with.
Luckily, there is one wine that comes dashing to the rescue!
From the area of France around Perpignan, just north of the Pyrenees, come some delicious red dessert wines that turn out to be perfect partners for chocolate desserts of all kinds, from cakes to mousses to just good chocolate on its own. Bubble Brothers work with the principal producer in the Maury appellation, Mas Amiel, and the estate's fortified, concentrated sweet red wines in their distinctive bottles have a strong following here, especially the young, fruity Vintage style.
Although the wines are sweet, they have a good level of acidity that prevents them from cloying. This, together with the fortified strength of 16% alcohol, lifts the delicious red fruit flavours over the richness of the Easter egg (or whatever) and gives a long finish to keep the strawberries and raspberries going alongside the complex chocolate flavours.
The pairing of chocolate and Maury (or the neighbouring and slightly more well-known Banyuls, also chiefly made from the red Grenache grape) is one of those clichés that it's well worth exploring.
Although our usual delivery charge in Ireland is €15, irrespective of the size of the order, we're offering an Easter special with free delivery
. Sixty-nine euro will get you a half-bottle of Mas Amiel's Vintage and a bottle of prestige Tsarine champagne
(another popular choice for chocolate, as the prickly bubbles contrast with the chocolate's creamy smoothness - though we think champagne goes with everything!) delivered to your door.
If you're tempted to find out just what Mas Amiel and chocolate can do together - we're talking about sweet, sweet music here - then there's no time like the (Easter) present.