Wine Wednesday + Bittersweet Chocolate Cherry Bread

Don Leonardo Cabernet Sauvignon

“This wine rains kisses in your mouth.” –Insatiable By Gael Greene

The first Wednesday of every month is Wine Wednesday! Spectacular wines under $10.00. Yep. Under $10.00. Sometimes wine is less expensive where I am, but most of the time it’s more expensive. Hopefully that means that I will pick wines that are well below the $10.00 limit for most of you.

I will post wines that I particularly like. I am no specialist by any means, but I do love wine. I know the basics of the different varietals, what regions generally produce, how wines are made, but this space is all about preference. We all like what we like, and you might like what I like too. I will post food pairings and why those pairings are suitable for the specific wine.

Don Leonardo 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon

Price: $8.17

Variety: Cabernet Sauvignon

Happy Wine Wednesday! And happy March! It’s usually during this month that I can start to see tiny clues of the forthcoming Spring season—the temperature increases to “brisk” from freezing, the daylight hours lengthen, etc. However, here on Long Island this year, the force of the changing seasons is not so much a subtle transition but more of a sunny slap to the face. Just two weeks ago, the Island got 14 inches of snow in 8 hours. Then on Friday, it was 70⁰F and climbing.

This is quite different than the February I’m used to. Minnesota winters often rear their head well into the month of March and sometimes April. I can remember coming home from my Junior year at Purdue in May to 5 inches of snow on the ground.

As a result, this March, I find myself keeping one foot firmly in the cozy feelings of winter. Because we have plenty of time for sunshine and hot, sticky days. I want a few more nights’ in featuring glasses of red wine and lovingly-baked treats. Enter this wine/bread combo.

The coziest red varietal, Cabernet Sauvignon, is the namesake of this month’s pick. From Argentina, the Don Leonardo Cab is soft, full-bodied, and reminiscent of juicy fruit notes (think cherry, blackberry) in the mouthful. The alcohol content is relatively low for a red, 12.5%, so the finish is mild. Traditional for the style, it’s not very acidic, but it’s also not as strong in tannins as Cabs are generally known for. That’s where the bread comes in.

Remember when we chatted about the climate/environment of the Bordeaux region of France? Well Argentina is another great growing region for full-bodied reds like Cabernet Sauvignon. The high altitude and dry climate makes it a very important producer for wine—especially those dark, intense, and “hot” varietals like Malbec we’ve come to associate with South America.

The semisweet and unsweetened chocolate combo used in this bread adds an astringency to the wine while the sour cherries add a hint of sweet and sour making the wine more complex. The cherries then follow up with a one-two punch by bringing out the red fruit flavors in full force—more than they were there before. I swear. A bite of bread changes the entire finish on this wine. And finally, as always, fermented products often lead to complementary flavors, so the yeast in the bread pairs with the alcohol notes in the wine. Match made in heaven. But also, it’s CHOCOLATE. BREAD. So you’re going to want to get on this regardless of your wine preference.

Now don’t worry—I’ll be getting into those bright and fresh warmer weather recipes soon. There’s even a salad on deck. But for now, let’s just have a glass of red and restart Scandal.

In other exciting news, I’ll be getting together with Sara and Abby this weekend to eat and drink our way with Brooklyn. Soooo get ready for a round-up of that fantastic trip! Every sip and nibble will be accounted for. In contrast to my comments earlier about warmer weather happening way too soon for my liking, I actually am hoping for those sunny, ambient days so that we can hit each stop with as much ease as possible. :)

Bittersweet Chocolate Cherry Bread

Adapted from the Mast Brothers Chocolate Cookbook

1 package (2 ¼ oz) active dry yeast

2/3 cup brown sugar, loosely packed

1 ½ cups water, warm

4 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon cocoa powder

A pinch kosher salt

2 large egg yolks, separated

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

6 ounces high-quality semi-sweet chocolate, chopped

6 ounces high-quality bitter (unsweetened) chocolate, chopped

5 ounces dried sour cherries

¼ cup milk

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer (but not attached to the stand), dissolve the brown sugar into the warm water. Sprinkle the yeast on top. Let sit for 10 minutes until the mixture is foaming and bubbling gently.
  2. Add the flour, cocoa powder, and salt to the yeast mixture. Stir together with a rubber spatula until combined.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the butter and 1 egg yolk together. Add to the dough mixture. Put the bowl on the stand of the mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment. Knead the dough on medium for 10 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes to relax the dough. Knead for an additional 10 minutes.
  4. Take the bowl off the stand mixer. Add in the chopped chocolate and sour cherries and mix in by hand. Cover the bowl with a dish towel and let rise in a warm place for 1 ½ hours. I like to use my oven, no heat, with the light on. The dough will double in size. If it’s looking like it’s getting excessively risen, commence with the next step early. Check at 1 hour.
  5. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured countertop and punch down a couple of times. Lightly grease and flour a tall 9-inch loaf pan. Pick up the dough and put it into the loaf pan. Put the loaf pan on a sheet pan and cover with a dish towel. Let rise another 20 minutes or so.
  6. Preheat the oven to 425⁰F. Combine the remaining egg yolk and ¼ cup milk. Brush on top of the dough.
  7. Bake for 13 minutes. Reduce the heat of the oven to 350⁰F and bake for an additional 40 minutes, checking at 20 minutes. Mine took around 40 minutes at this stage, but if you have under/over-proofed, this time may differ. The interior of the bread should be 195-200⁰F when finished baking. If you think the top is browning too much, tent aluminum foil over the top of the loaf.
  8. Remove from the oven and let sit in the loaf pan on a baking rack for 15 minutes. Turn out onto the baking rack and let cool until easy to handle before cutting into it.
  9. Seal the bread in an airtight bag and consume within a week or so. The bread will not remain super soft, so toast your slice before enjoying after a couple of days. Alternatively, wrap and seal the bread well and freeze. Reheat in a warm oven wrapped in foil.



  1. March 2

    Yum to all of it. I don’t think I have tried many Argentinan wines but am totally inspired to now :)

    • Kelsey
      March 3

      Yes you’ll have to give them a whirl! They’re a great, relatively inexpensive source for wine! xoxo

  2. March 6

    Thank you for introducing me to Wine Wednesday! My partner is in the process of studying for and completing the sommelier exams, so we always have lots of wine around the house. I think he’ll be quite pleased to discover that Wine Wednesday is a thing, too. I can totally see how this chocolate cherry bread would pair well with a red! <3

    • Kelsey
      March 7

      Yes Wine Wednesday is a great way to get through the week 😉 and oh that is so exciting! So much to memorize for those exams. I wish him the best of luck! And I hope you get to enjoy the fruits of his efforts (aka glasses on glasses of wine)! xoxo

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