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Sorry to continue the off-topic English lessons, but...
"Correct spelling and grammar is essential" is perfectly acceptable, as the two are being referred to almost separately - i.e. one could say "correct spelling is essential and correct grammar is essential".
If they're are grouped together, the plural form ofthe verb is used, e.g "Spelling and grammar are essential elements of language".
The same could potentially apply to the earlier example of 'chocolate and beer'. If they're together (though who would put chocolate in beer is a mystery) then it's not unlike saying "bacon and eggs is nice for breakfast". Although yes, the Microsoft spelling and grammar checker sucks ass.
I only continue this for two reasons: Not to bother with correct spelling and grammar is horrendously lazy and the new Belgian ID cards have certain words deliberately mis-spelled, the theory being that it makes them harder to forge. You couldn't make it up...Christopher White, 13 years ago.