The bad news is we’ve been enduring some really harsh winter weather lately. The good news is that this is some of the best weather for drinking wine, especially with the rich, slow-cooked foods that comfort the soul in these frigid times.

Like almost everything, wine enjoyment has its seasons. Just as the hot days of summer call to mind crisp Rosé and slightly chilled Beaujolais, Midwest winters beg for big, hearty wines and foods that stand up to them. Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and oaky Chardonnay are a good place to start.

With its natural acidity and layers of flavors, wine is a wonderful enhancement to all kinds of dishes, from a splash of white wine in a light sauce for fish to a whole bottle of red used to braise a large piece of meat.

The justifiably most-repeated advice given for cooking with wine is to select a wine that you would enjoy drinking on its own and one that complements what you will drink with the meal. It’s even better to cook with the same wine you’re drinking, but if you’re splurging on a Grand Cru Burgundy with your beef bourguignon, you’d be wise to use a good quality but less expensive pinot noir in the dish.

We know Valentine’s Day was a week ago, but here’s a recipe that not only perfectly highlights the synergy of food and wine but contains a holiday-appropriate secret ingredient ? chocolate!

If you’d like to taste some wines that bring a glow to your cheeks, along with some hearty authentic German food, check out our February 28 Wine Down Wednesday, Baby it’s Cold Outside at the Dakota Inn Rathskeller.

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