A group of friends toast during last year’s Red Wine and Chocolate Tour that’s sponsored by Whidbey Island Vintners and Distillers Association. (Photo by Patricia Guthrie/Whidbey News Group)

A group of friends toast during last year’s Red Wine and Chocolate Tour that’s sponsored by Whidbey Island Vintners and Distillers Association. (Photo by Patricia Guthrie/Whidbey News Group)

A sweet pairing: Chocolate, wine tour celebrates Whidbey’s dynamic duo

Whether in the spirit of love or for the love of spirits, the annual Red Wine and Chocolate Tour has plenty to offer.

During the weekends preceding and following Valentine’s Day, the four wineries and two distilleries that comprise Whidbey Island Vintners & Distillers Association will be opening their doors for tastings, tours and pairings with locally made sweets.

Although red wine is in the event’s name, self-described “new kids on the block” Mutiny Bay Distillery will be joining the mix, which includes Whidbey Island Distillery, Comforts of Whidbey, Holmes Harbor Cellars, Spoiled Dog Winery and Blooms Winery.

The Freeland distillery will be featuring its product both in liquid and chocolate form, according to owner Kathy Stallman. The chocolate truffles, made by Sweet Mona’s in Langley, will be infused with the Mutinty Bay’s blueberry liquor.

Stallman said the “mom, pop, son and dog shop” tries to keep its products as locally sourced as possible. The blueberries in the liquor are grown nearby at Mutiny Bay Blues and the distillery’s coffee liquor uses coffee from Useless Bay Coffee Company in Langley. Stallman said that during the tour, tasters will have the chance to see Mutiny Bay’s growing facility and learn “as much information as they want to have about the complex world of whiskey.”

Every stop on the self-guided tour —- which is from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Feb. 9 and 10 and Feb. 16 and 17 —- features products made on the island, according to Karen Krug, owner of Spoiled Dog Winery. Her establishment will be serving chocolate hearts filled with caramel and topped with sea salt as well as dark chocolate with merlot-soaked cherries, made by CJ & Y Decedent Desserts. Visitors will also have the chance to bottle their own bottle of pinot noir this year, Krug said.

Holmes Harbor Cellars will be pouring three 2012 blends, all of which are bronze medal winners at the 2018 Seattle Wine Awards, according to owner and winemaker Greg Martinez. Each red will be paired with a flourless dark chocolate cake topped with cherry chocolate ganache, he said.

Sommeliers and other wine experts don’t always agree on how to pair wine and chocolate, but most suggest red wine goes best with dark chocolate. According to an article in Forbes, some sommeliers suggest sweeter wines to offset the bitterness of dark chocolate. Others focus more on the fruit aspect of the wines when pairing.

Whatever the reasoning, the two decadent treats are a favorite of many. Last year Krug said the tour sold around 450 tickets over the two weeks it ran. Krug said participants are encouraged to spread out tastings between the two days.

The Whidbey Island Vintners & Distillers Association aims to promote small family wineries and craft distilleries and establish Whidbey as “wine and spirit country.”

“I think the group really presents a nice pallet of choices for people to visit,” Stallman said.

Tickets are $25 in advance, $30 at the door and can be purchased at www.brownpapertickets.com/event/4026237

Kathy Stallman calls her family’s Freeland Mutiny Bay Distillery business a “mom, pop, son and dog shop.” Its tasting room in progress will be open during the annual Red Wine (and spirits) and Chocolate Tour the next two weekends.

Kathy Stallman calls her family’s Freeland Mutiny Bay Distillery business a “mom, pop, son and dog shop.” Its tasting room in progress will be open during the annual Red Wine (and spirits) and Chocolate Tour the next two weekends.

Mutiny Bay Spirits produces a variety of small-crafted liquor, including blueberry and coffee liqueurs.

Mutiny Bay Spirits produces a variety of small-crafted liquor, including blueberry and coffee liqueurs.

More in Life

$56,000 awarded to Reserve’s historic buildings

The Trust Board of Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve and the Friends… Continue reading

WhidbeyCon draws fans of the magical and monsterous

The magical, mythical, super and monstrous converged in one, free and family-friendly… Continue reading

Grief in the middle of the ocean

Chris Jordan’s film shows the plight of man through the eyes of albatross

Easter events on Whidbey

Wednesday, April 17Office of Tenebrae, 7 p.m., April 17, St. Hubert Catholic… Continue reading

Poet offers an elixir of words for grief, fear, sadness and loss

Judith Adams: ‘If you have a soul, if you’re a human being, you are a poet’

Scottish group to play at WICA

For one night only, Scotland’s Tannahill Weavers will bring their dynamic, traditional… Continue reading

Farmers markets are gearing up for upcoming season

Vendors and visitors braved wind and rain Saturday as Coupeville launched the… Continue reading

Bats will find new homes at Fort Casey

Parks staff members at Fort Casey can appreciate bats’ importance to the… Continue reading

The ocean under a microscope: Carla Stehr merges art and science

From Carla Stehr’s viewpoint, the ocean is very small. Tiny. Microscopic, in… Continue reading

Arranging life little by little, piece by piece

Assemblage art is all in the details

An eye for elephants

Photographer captures images of African wildlife while assisting conservation efforts

Art galleries springing into April

FIRST SATURDAY Langley Art Walk is 5-7 p.m, Saturday, April 6. Galleries… Continue reading