I love a little fine chocolate on Valentine's Day. Actually, I love a lot of fine chocolate. So rather than over-indulge, this year I'll settle for just a few pieces of my favorite Jacques Torres chocolates (http://jacquestorres.com) and make a much lighter, but no less romantic dessert to go with them.
Pears Poached in Wine served with a glass of Moscato d'Asti makes a very elegant match. The pears are very simple to make and have a real "wow" effect at the table. You can use any color wine, but red makes for a very dramatic presentation. For a larger crowd, I'll poach some in white, some in rose and some in red. Spread out an a platter, they look very inviting.
Easy, pretty and flexible, it's what everyone wants in a Valentine. Besides a bit of chocolate, you can serve them with whipped cream, marscapone, ice cream, biscotti or even Gorganzola and nuts. For a quick sauce, just cook down some of the poaching liquid until it becomes a syrup.
While the pears work with any number of dessert wines, I'm gong with a Moscato d' Asti, an off-dry wine that shows well with fruit. Made in the same region of Italy as Asti Spumante, Moscatos are a bit drier with a softer sparkle. Their fresh fruit flavor shows best young, so pass on any bottles over two years old. And they won't break the bank; you can get great ones for under 15 bucks. Best of all, at only 10 % alcohol (most wines are between 13% and 15%), you can indulge yourself with a second glass, after all it is Valentine's Day.