Valentine's isn't the only day of the year to get your chocolate fix on.
Four upcoming events celebrate this sweet treat, our infatuation of which started some 3,000 years ago, when the Mayan and Aztec Indians brewed cacoa beans into the world's first ceremonial, beer-like cup of frothy chocolate. But these events are pairing it with another food of the gods: wine.
• On Feb. 8-9, and then again on Feb. 14-16, Webb Winery in Hermitage, Mercer County, is holding its first "Wine & Chocolate" event. The $12 admission ($20 for two, if purchased together) buys you a delicious pairing of three of their wines with three chocolate samples from Philadelphia Candies, which despite its name is actually made in Western Pennsylvania's Shenango Valley. As a parting gift, participants get to take home a Webb Winery wine glass with chocolates tucked inside.
Space is limited -- the new winery's tasting room is on the small side -- so reservations are suggested (but not required) by calling 724-856-2770. The winery is located at 2531 S. Hermitage Road on the east side of state Route 18, just south of the intersection of Route 518. Hours are from 4 to 8 p.m. Thurs. and Fri. and from 2 to 8 p.m. Sat. Info: webbwinery.com.
• Vintners on the southern shore of Lake Erie also think chocolate makes a perfect companion for vino.
On Feb. 15-17, Lake Erie Wine Country, formerly known as the Chautauqua-Lake Erie Wine Trail, will hold a "Wine & Chocolate Weekend." All 23 of the wineries on the self-guided tour sponsored by Webb's Candies (not related to the winery) will offer ticket holders special chocolate creations paired with wine; a few will have savory dishes, too, such as Creamy Chicken and Biscuits, Meatball Florentine Soup and Thyme-Rubbed Roast Beef Tenderloin.
Tickets cost $35 (good for all three days) or $29 for Fri. and/or Sun. Designated drivers pay $20. The price includes a LEWC wineglass, recipe booklet, $5 voucher good toward wine at any winery or designated restaurant and a special gift, but ticket holders must provide their own transportation. Hours are from noon to 5 p.m. Fri, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sat. and Sun.
For tickets or info: lakeeriewinecountry.org/events/1.
• At Morton's The Steakhouse on Thurs., Feb. 21, a variety of chocolates will be paired with port, a sweet, dark-red fortified wine typically served with dessert. The $45 (plus tax and gratuity) "Port and Chocolate Tasting" begins at 6 p.m. and will include samples of Fonseca and Taylor Fladgate ports. For more info or reservations, email email@example.com or call 412-261-7141; you also can purchase tickets online at portandchocolatepittsburgh.eventbrite.com.
• A bit further afield is Hershey, Pa., where the month-long "Chocolate-Covered February" celebration (chocolatecoveredfebruary.com) includes a Wine & Chocolate Pairing class at The Hotel Hershey (hotelhershey.com). The 4 p.m. class is being offered Feb. 9, 16 and 23, and costs $35 per person (plus tax and gratuity). Reservations are required by calling 717-534-8800. Rather explore chocolate's relationship with vodka? There's a session for you, too: A Chocolate Martini Mixology Class at 8 p.m. on Feb. 8, 15 and 22. The $45 admission includes a martini glass and cocktail shaker. Reservations: 717-534-8601.
• And if shopping is what floats your boat? The first "Sewickley Chocolate Walk" takes place on Wed., Feb. 13, from 5 to 7 p.m. The self-guided event pairs gourmet chocolates with the fun of exploring Sewickley's boutiques and shops. There also will be a demonstration, with samples, by Village Candy on how to make authentic Mexican hot chocolate (spoiler: you grate Taza Mexican Organic Chocolate and mix it with hot water or milk using a molinillo, a Mexican whisk).
The event is limited to 200 people. Tickets cost $5 (plus a $1.25 service fee) and can be purchased at http://www.showclix.com/event/3741528. Free admisstion for kids ages 10 and under, but they must with an adult.
Gretchen McKay: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1419 or on Twitter @gtmckay.