Valentine’s Day is around the corner and that means the pressure is on to find that perfect card, get the best dinner reservations and send the biggest bouquet of flowers. What starts as a day to celebrate love can easily turn into yet another stressful thing to add to the to-do list.

Instead of falling back on a bouquet of red roses or dinner at a crowded restaurant, this year why not create something different with a personalized pairing menu of California chocolates and Real California Cheeses? Rich, bold, decadent – as a pair they are a savory-sweet love connection sure to stand the test of time and taste. Throw in a special bottle of champagne or wine and you’ve taken Valentine’s Day to a whole new level.

The California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB) is donning its cupid wings to play matchmaker with everyone’s favorite foods – chocolate and cheese. Go ahead and pick up the traditional Valentine’s favorite, a box of chocolates, but don’t head straight to the check-out aisle – head to the cheese display for a thoughtful and decadent way to put the chocolates to good use. California’s more than 50 cheesemakers make more than 250 varieties and styles of Real California Cheese, everything from bandage wrapped Cheddar to award-winning Brie, so there is truly something for every taste.

As with all pairings, there are few guidelines for choosing the perfect Real California Cheese and chocolate pairs. Just as lovers share similarities, foods with similar flavor profiles work best together. For darker chocolates, choose a more complex, aged cheese while sweet milk chocolates complement buttery cheeses, like Brie. Bright, fruity chocolates are perfect with sharper cheeses and nuttier chocolates find a perfect pair in high butterfat cheeses. Want to spice things up a bit? Try pairing spicy chocolates with sharp cheeses – the intensities play off each other beautifully!

Whether it’s a romantic dinner with that special someone or an evening with all the people you love, these decadent pairings are sure to inspire a renewed love for Real California Cheese.

• Pair a dark chocolate (80 percent or more cocoa) with a delicious true Blue cheese

• Indulge in burnt caramel chocolates with a beer-washed cheese

• Pair a Bordeaux-style chocolate with a creamy triple crème Brie

• Treat yourself to a citrusy chocolate with a semi-hard, buttery table cheese

Need help taking your pairing menu to the next level? The CMAB has put together a tasting table of California Cheeses and chocolates at to get you started. Check out the just released Real California Cheese “Pair Savvy” smart phone app that helps consumers pair the myriad of delicious California cheese varieties with the wine and beers they enjoy. The user-friendly application is free for download on most smart phones, including iPhone and Android devices, available at

Source: California Milk Advisory Board