Indulge in a Tour of Decadence

Jennifer Waldera

When someone recently asked me if I like chocolate and wine, I nearly laughed (heartily) in response. Chocolate? Check. Wine? Check. Little did I realize that I was going to be fortunate enough to be invited to enjoy both, together, for an entire afternoon of indulgence on a wine and chocolate tour.

Organized by Vino 301 Wine Concierge, the first part of the tour began at Parfections, a chocolate shop in Cockeysville. A quaint end of group boutique shop, Parfections beckons passersby to enter with its gorgeous window display of decadent chocolates.

Upon arrival, tour guests received the menu of wine that would be served as well as a list and description of each of the chocolates available in the shop. Chocolatier Kimberley Rigby, owner of Parfections, specializes in the infusion of various sweet and savory ingredients into truffles and barks in order to create unique and decadent flavor combinations. In addition, chocolate dipped fruits are also available at the shop, though the barks and truffles are the featured chocolates in the tasting.

While gathered around the artful displays in Parfections, guests learned from tour guide Leslie Frelow about each wine, and the winery of its origin, as she generously poured for each guest to taste. Meanwhile, Kimberley circulated to each guest to bring chocolates to accompany the wine, offering detailed descriptions as well.

The wine list, incorporating all local wine from the likes of Running Hare, Old Westminster, Boordy, and Legends, included a broad range of wine from an award winning Chardonnay to a smooth red blend to a fuller bodied Cabernet. Sweeter wines such as Riesling and Blush found their way to the table as well.

The barks and truffles chosen to pair with each wine were all creative in both taste and texture and were well paired with their partner wine. Pomegranate and lime flavors enrobed in a white chocolate casing were paired with a traditional German style Reisling from Running Hare Vineyard while an intriguing red blend, Channery Hill from Old Westminster Winery, was sipped with a solid bark laced with spicy ancho chilies and habanero peppers. Each pairing, the chocolates, with their various innovative additions like aged balsamic vinegar or cayenne pepper, were unexpectedly perfect pairs with their wine counterparts. Leslie and Kimberley most clearly understand the intricacies of both wine and chocolate.

Frankly, after the generous pours and portions, and the amount of knowledge I had already acquired about the chocolates, individual wineries, and wine, I could have considered this first leg of the tour a full chocolate and wine experience. However, part of the tour also includes visiting a MD winery for a tasting! Armed with a bag of Bacon Bark (crispy bacon and sea salt embedded in dark chocolate chunks – yes, it is as heavenly as it sounds!) and a gift box of craft beer infused truffles for a friend (all purchases made directly after the tasting were 15% off), we hopped into Leslie's van to take the scenic back roads lined with colorful autumnal trees to our destination.

The winery chosen for this tour was Basignani, only about a 15 minute drive from Parfections, on Falls Road in Baltimore County. Situated on 22 acres of vineyard, the winery is cozy with a quaint tasting room, a covered outdoor seating area and an enormous brick oven used to make pizzas during specific events such as Friday Movie Night.

The wooden walls of the tasting room are lined with shelves housing myriad wine bottles and the lengths of two sides of the room are dedicated to pouring tastings. Our group of seven settled into a corner area, armed with tasting sheets and individually packed plates of cheese, bread and olives for each guest.

Danny, our tasting guide, described each of the 15 varieties of wine that were available for tasting so that we could more easily choose the six that we intended to try. For the next 45 minutes, we sipped and swirled while Danny told us about the winery, owned by his sister and brother-in-law, and answered our many questions.

While Basignani’s signature wines, their Cabernet and Lorenzino Reserve, were highly enjoyable, a surprise favorite of the group was the Sinistra. This sweet wine is a type of port (though it cannot be called port as it is not from Portugal). Made from the Lorenzino, then infused with brandy, the Sinistra is just the kind of sweet wine that would be best enjoyed in front of a fire on a snowy night. While several of the other wine names have family members as their namesakes, this wine’s name is derived from the Italian for the portside of a boat.

After finishing our tasting with Danny, about 20 minutes remained during which guests were encouraged to walk around and enjoy the tasting room and vineyard or to buy a glass or bottle to enjoy. We chose the latter, both of us picking the Lorenzo Reserve, and retired to the outdoor patio to enjoy the gorgeous fall colors that Basignani’s property is fortunate enough to have. And to enjoy some of that Bacon Bark as well…

After the conclusion of our time at the winery, Leslie dropped us back off at Parfections, where our car was parked. The remaining guests, having largely been from Washington D.C., were dropped off at the alternative pick up location at the Park and Ride near Route 70.

I truly can’t think of a more amazingly decadent four hours than this tour which could be described as nothing less than heavenly for any chocolate and wine lover. For anything from a fun afternoon with friends to a sweet way to spend time with your significant other, this tour certainly delivers a unique and educational experience!

Check it out at:


Insider’s tip: If you’re a sucker for spicy food, ask to try the ghost pepper chocolate. You’re welcome!

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