What goes best with chocolate-covered strawberries?

Here's a hint...not pickles.
John Benson
Feb 8, 2014
Wine connoisseurs in general may seem snobby but truth be told they are an inclusive group always on the lookout for a special tasting event.
 
That said, the Firelands Winery is really living dangerously with a special Valentine’s Day affair called the “Wine & Chocolate Open House.”
 
Oh, geez, will anyone want to come out to such an esoteric and obscure tasting?
 
Naturally we’re joking.
 
There is very little mystery regarding the appeal of this annual event, which this year takes place from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday at the Sandusky winery. Furthermore, combining vino and chocolate together is a match made in heaven for most folks.
 
Funcoast.com talked to Firelands Winery Special Projects Coordinator Adrian Salvador about the devilishly tasty “Wine & Chocolate Open House” featuring amazing food, world-class wines and live entertainment. 
 
Here’s a no-brainer, what’s the “Wine & Chocolate Open House” all about? 
 
It’s our 13th annual Wine & Chocolate Open House and it coincided with Valentine’s Day. It’s just an afternoon of wine, chocolate and getting out of the house during our cold Ohio winter. What we do is normally have between four to six stations. Each is going to have some kind of dish that’s either chocolate or has a chocolate component to it. So this year we’ll do favorite standbys like chocolate fountain and some chocolates made by Tre Sorelle Cioccolato downtown.
 
Also, we’re going to do some off-the-wall things like salmon with a white chocolate sauce and some different things like that. There’s also like a spicy cocoa pork. We try to do some different things so it’s not the same every year. The foods are paired with three to five wines at each station. So you can mingle around and taste what we think pairs well with that. 
 
How popular is the early afternoon event? 
 
It’s extremely popular. Last year we were wall to wall for four hours and had probably more than 400 people. People can stay the whole time but it depends. We have some people that enjoy hanging out all day. We have a musician playing. Then, some people like to come and go through once and that’s their afternoon. So it really depends on the customer. Each of the stations are like sampler sizes, almost hors d’oeuvres and pairing, but it’s not like a one-and-done limit.
 
Considering the “Wine & Chocolate Open House” attracts so many people, how does it fit into the Firelands Winery programming?
 
Really, we like to get back into the community and let people know what’s going on and what we’ve got what’s new. This is a great way to showcase that. We have new products — new wines we’re either importing or producing — every year. 
 
Will all Firelands varietals be available for the tasting? 
 
Not all of them, but a good portion of them are. We offer both the Firelands wines, which are the dryer varietals, and we have Mantey products that will be sampled. Those are our sweeter products like Pink Catawbas and things like that. And we always pick some Italian products to display at this. We’re also bringing in an importer. This year we’re going to have an Italian winemaker on hand to sample her wine. She’ll also sign bottles as well. 
 
Finally, we’ve heard of chocolate-covered bacon but salmon and white chocolate? What’s next? 
We had to work pretty hard for our 13th annual event to come up with something unique. We’ve got a pretty close relationship with Mon Ami, we’re sister companies, so next year if we get stuck we’ll call in some help from the professionals. 
 
Admission to the “Wine & Chocolate Open House” is $20 per person.