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JUST DESSERTS

February 2, 2012 12:10 am

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BY ANNE ELDER

BY ANNE ELDER

FOR THE FREE LANCE-STAR

AS VALENTINE'S DAY approaches, treat your mate to these sinful soirees boasting a sure-fire way to sweeten your holiday celebration--chocolate. Whether you want to celebrate the weekend before or on Valentine's Day itself, these events will guarantee a happy ending to your love story.

CHOCOLATE EXTRAVAGANZA

Leave the pets at home for the ninth annual Chocolate Extravaganza, hosted by the Fredericksburg SPCA.

The extravaganza includes the "Wine and Dessert Pairing" on Friday, Feb. 10, and "Sweet Sensations Taste Test Chocolate Buffet" on Saturday, Feb. 11.

The "Wine and Dessert Pairing" allows guests to taste five desserts, matched with five different wines.

This year, it will be held at the Classic Car Center, so patrons also have the opportunity to view antique cars on display.

"We move that around yearly so this year people can not only enjoy the wine and desserts but also see some beautiful cars," said Debra Joseph, executive director of the SPCA. "I'm always amazed on how pairing just the right wine can make your dessert tastier and your wine pop."

For his sixth year, Edwin Wyant, owner and consultant of the Virginia Wine Experience, will present expertly paired desserts and wine, which he said is meant to "take two really good flavors and take them to another level."

While in the past the wine has been paired with chocolate, Wyant said patrons can expect an assortment of desserts this year.

Wyant looks at two key components when pairing the wines: the sugar of the dessert as well as its acidity. When a dessert has more sugar in the recipe, it pairs well with a sweeter wine. On the other hand, less sweet desserts can be paired with a drier wine.

People shouldn't be intimidated by the wine pairings, either. Wyant said the atmosphere of this event is relaxed, where everyone has a good time.

The "Sweet Sensations Taste Test Chocolate Buffet" is a family-oriented event, where individuals can look at each of the desserts to determine which ones they want to buy.

"I always enjoy working with the restaurants who so generously donate," said Joseph. "I like seeing people enjoy their desserts."

Attendees may eat their treats there, or take them home for later.

Funds from the events go to help the animals in their care, Joseph said. The center is a no-kill humane care center and must raise 100 percent of its operating budget.

SWEET SIDE OF LIFE

Don't forget your dancing shoes when you leave home Feb. 10 for the "Sweet Side of Life," sponsored by Fredericksburg Counseling Services. This black-tie optional affair will feature six to eight restaurants boasting their fare, two bottles of wine per table, a cash bar, a silent auction and music by the Fredericksburg Big Band.

It's all for a good cause, benefiting the Fredericksburg Counseling Services Inc. Free Mental Health Clinic, and all proceeds will be matched by the Doris Buffett Challenge Grant.

POTOMAC POINT WINERY

On Saturday, Feb. 11, let your taste buds have an affair to remember, with Potomac Point Winery's annual "Sinfully Sweet" event. Enjoy key lime pie, crêpes filled with chocolate galette, white chocolate creme brulee and Bordeaux brownie-covered strawberries, each masterfully matched with wine from the Stafford vineyard.

Multiple seatings are offered throughout the day.

If Saturday night left you yearning for more, return to Potomac Point on Valentine's Day for its Winemaker's Dinner. There, you'll be treated to portobello Napoleon, bacon-wrapped petit filet with a cabernet reduction sauce, scarlet seared scallops and layered chocolate cake with raspberry sauce--each with a complementing wine.

Joining the dinner will be the wine maker himself, who will introduce each wine pairing and will be available to answer questions.

"It's something different to spend with your Valentine and it's a great personal dinner; a great way to be in front of our wine maker and learn a little bit about him," said Potomac Point event coordinator Tanya Caruso. "He usually talks between each course, so it's also educational."

COOPER VINEYARDS

For lovers of both wine and chocolate, Cooper Vineyards is the place for you. One of its best-selling wines, Noche Chocolate, is a chocolate-infused dessert wine, with hints of black cherry and raspberry. And, it is the inspiration for their Valentine's Weekend celebration, Feb. 11-12.

For $5, guests to the Louisa vineyard will receive a tasting of the wine, roses for the ladies, chocolate treats and a collectible glass. Office manager Leslie Wensel invites people to come taste the wine, take advantage of sale specials and listen to the music of Charlie Kilpatrick.

"We just opened our new tasting room last April and we have a baby grand piano," Wensel said. "It's just very, very nice and people just love coming in there."

Additionally, guests are welcome to bring well-behaved pets and their own picnic, or purchase cheese and crackers on site.

INGLESIDE VINEYARDS

Indulge yourself and your mate at Ingleside Plantation Vineyards' "A Taste of Wine and Chocolate," on Saturday, Feb. 11. Catered by Christina Moore at Shindig, desserts will include laced strawberries, cranberry crisp dessert with white chocolate, champagne truffles, cupcakes and an assortment of apricots, pears and bacon--all dipped in chocolate.

"It will be a very elegant affair," said Dana Gardner, wedding and event coordinator at Ingleside. "Of course, this will be one of the first times we'll be offering our champagne."

The vineyard in Oak Grove will be offering its Brut champagne as well as its rose, and Moore has planned to make champagne truffles to complement them.

Additionally, Rebekah Beasley will be playing piano, and every woman will be given a rose or a carnation.

Moore will also be selling her treats for guests to take home for later, give as a gift or bring back for the babysitter. During the event, the desserts will be elegantly displayed in five different stations.

"It's going to be like artwork--artwork that you can eat," Gardner said about the displays. "Christina does a beautiful, beautiful job. It will just be a beautiful, romantic night."

LAKE ANNA WINERY

Death never tasted so sweet.

To help out two worthy causes, head to the Lake Anna Winery's eighth annual Death by Chocolate, where proceeds benefit the Susan B. Komen Breast Cancer Awareness Foundation on behalf of Lori Addison and the Lake Anna Rescue Squad.

Enjoy a buffet of chocolate cakes, candy, fudge, truffles, mousse and chocolate fondue while listening to local music group Olive Eyes. Cost includes a wine tasting, a collectible wine glass and tours around the vineyard.

OLD HOUSE VINEYARDS

If you're looking to show your special someone how much they mean to you before the holiday, the Old House Vineyards in Culpeper is the place for you. On Feb. 11-12, enjoy dipping fresh fruit, pound cake and marshmallows in chocolate fondue that's sure to make your heart melt.

But if you're free later in the week, go back for their Valentine Wine Dinner on Feb. 14, where you'll be met with hors d'oeuvres and a four-course meal ending with a dark chocolate cheesecake decorated with a white chocolate heart.

GRAY GHOST VINEYARDS

Don't just bring your Valentine a box of chocolates this year, instead indulge them with Gray Ghost Vineyards' "Irresistible Chocolates and Cabernet," Feb. 11-12, in Amissville.

Now in its 17th year, you and your partner will get unlimited access to a vast display of chocolate desserts and glasses of Cabernet.

The winery will be introducing its first 2011 vintage wine, Vidal Blanc. But instead of a more formal wine paring, the atmosphere is very relaxed.

"You can go at your own pace," said Amy Payette, director of marketing at Gray Ghost. "You can try different wines with different desserts."

This year, the winery will be offering chocolate-dipped apricots, Ghirardelli triple chocolate Merlot brownies, chocolate oat bars, mocha coconut clusters, chocolate-covered pretzels, decadent cheesecake delight and peanut, raisin and marshmallow clusters.

Payette said that people usually walk away from the event thinking of what an incredible experience it was, and that they've never had so many outstanding desserts at one time.

"It's overwhelming in a good way, it's truly just nothing but desserts," Payette said. "It's not your everyday way to celebrate Valentine's Day."

The cost of admission also includes a free collectible wine glass, ensuring that it's one night you can remember together for years to come.

Anne Elder is a University of Mary Washington student and freelance writer for The Free Lance-Star.




SWEET SIDE OF LIFE

Fredericksburg Hospitality House and Conference Center, 2801 Plank Road, Fredericksburg. Feb. 10, 8-11 p.m. $50. 540/373-2320; fcsagency.org.

SPCA CHOCOLATE EXTRAVAGANZA

"Choctail Hour" Wine and Dessert Pairing, Classic Car Center, 3591 Lee Hill Drive.

Feb. 10, 6:30-8:30 p.m. $25 per person; reservations required. 540/898-1500, ext. 302; fburgspca.org.

Sweet Sensations Taste Test Chocolate Buffet, St. George's Episcopal Church, 905 Princess Anne St. Feb. 11, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Admission $2, ages 4 and younger free, desserts $1-$3 each. 540/898-1500, ext. 302; fburgspca.org.

COOPER VINEYARDS

13372 Shannon Hill Road, Louisa. Valentine's Weekend, Feb. 11-12, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. $5. 540/894-5474; cooper vineyards.com

LAKE ANNA WINERY

5621 Courthouse Road, Spotsylvania. Death By Chocolate, Feb. 11, noon-5 p.m. $25. Reservations suggested. 540/895-5085; lawinery.com.

INGLESIDE VINEYARDS

5872 Leedstown Road, Oak Grove. A Taste of Wine and Chocolate, Feb. 11, 5-7 p.m. Reservations required. 804/224-8687; inglesidevineyards.com.

GRAY GHOST VINEYARDS

14706 Lee Highway, Amissville. Irresistible Chocolates and Cabernet, Feb. 11-12, 11 a.m.- 4 p.m. $17. 540/937-4869; grayghostvineyards.com.

OLD HOUSE VINEYARDS

18351 Corkys Lane, Culpeper. Chocolate fondue, Feb, 11-12, noon-5 p.m. $30. Valentine Wine Dinner, Feb. 14. $75, reservations required. 540/423-1032; oldhousevineyards.com.

POTOMAC POINT WINERY

275 Decatur Road, Stafford. Sinfully Sweet Dessert and Wine Pairing, Feb. 11, with seatings at 2, 4, 6 and 8 p.m. $24.99, $21.99 club member. Winemaker's Valentine's Dinner, Feb. 14, at 7 p.m. $75, $70 club member. Reserve at 540/446-2107 or e-mail jane@potomacpoint winery.com.

INGLESIDE VINEYARDS

POTOMAC POINT WINERY

GRAY GHOST VINEYARDS




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