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50 Ways to Keep Your Lover this Valentine's Day

Author/Sommelier Natalie MacLean

"Want to seduce someone this Valentine's Day?" asks Natalie MacLean, author of Red, White and Drunk All Over: A Wine-Soaked Journey from Grape to Glass. "Just share a glass of wine (or three) with your sweetheart."

"Wine is liquid sensuality: Its heady bouquet stimulates the appetite and its velvet caress soothes that desire," she observes. "What other drink is described as both 'voluptuous' and 'muscular'? And when you pair wine with the mouth-coating luxury of chocolate, the combination is impossible to resist."

The creamy flavors of chocolate go best with sweet, full-bodied, high-alcohol wines, MacLean notes. She suggests wines to complement 50 chocolate dishes in her online matching tool at www.nataliemaclean.com/matcher . Just click on “desserts” to find pairings for chocolate mud pie to chocolate cheesecake.

Natalie’s top 10 wine and chocolate matches:

  1. Dark Chocolate and Banyuls, France
  2. Chocolate-Covered Biscotti and Recioto Della Valpolicella, Italy
  3. Chocolate-Orange Cake and Liqueur Muscat, Australia
  4. Chocolate with Nuts and Tawny Port, Portugal
  5. Milk Chocolate and Tokaji, Hungary
  6. Bittersweet Chocolate and Amarone, Italy
  7. Chocolate-Dipped Fruit and Icewine, Canada
  8. Chocolate Ganache Truffles and Sauternes, France
  9. Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake and Framboise, California
  10. Chocolate Hearts with Cream Filling and Cream Sherry, Spain

Natalie's online food-and-wine matcher doesn't just focus on chocolate. The interactive tool has thousands of wines to pair with any dish: meat, pasta, seafood, vegetarian fare, pizza, eggs, cheese and dessert. You simply choose the food or wine from a drop-down menu to get the pairing suggestions. There are also lots of recipes for those planning a romantic meal. The matcher is updated regularly with new dishes and wines from the 83,000-plus readers who subscribe to Natalie's free e-newsletter, which offers tips on how to buy, cellar and serve wine.

In Red, White and Drunk All Over , Natalie discusses how to match food and wine in greater depth, including wines for a multi-course dinner. There's also a chapter with advice on pairing wine with five challenging foods: chocolate, cheese, spicy dishes, vegetables and fast food. Got a dish or a wine to stump Natalie? Just e-mail her via her web site and she'll suggest a match for you.

Natalie MacLean has won four James Beard Journalism Awards, including the MFK Fisher Distinguished Writing Award; and she was named the World's Best Drink Writer at the World Food Media Awards. Rex Pickett, author of Sideways, says that Natalie "writes about wine with a sensuous obsession" and is "often laugh-out-loud funny." Eric Asimov of The New York Times notes, "Ms. MacLean is the disarming Everywoman . she loves wine, loves drinking . a winning formula." The Financial Times observes: "Natalie MacLean is a new force in the wine writing world-a feisty North American answer to Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson." www.nataliemaclean.com