There is no way to hide from the fact that Valentine’s Day is approaching—marketing won’t allow you to forget it.
Everywhere you turn, there are hearts, chocolates and teddy bears. The one thing that is missing is wine.
It is common for consumers to shop for wine based on labels, especially on Valentine’s Day. I am sure that many of you have seen labels such as “Flirt” or “Ménage à Trois.” Many feel that those labels actually create romance; however, the true essence of the wine is best for setting the desired mood. Let’s face it, Valentine's Day can be expensive, too, especially in the early years of a relationship. Luckily, your wine choice doesn’t have to be expensive—because I am here to help.
Bubbles are a wonderful way to start and finish the evening, whether that be sparkling wine or champagne. In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, it's nice to make your choice for bubbles pink. If you have already spent your budget on flowers, Bailly Lapierre’s Crémant de Bourgogne rosé brut is the perfect bottle for you.
Bailly Lapierre is very well-known in Burgundy for their sparkling wine. Their Crémant de Bourgogne rosé brut is a blend of 90 percent pinot noir and 10 percent gamay. It is made in the same method as champagne but does not come from the Champagne region of France, therefore cannot be called champagne. Don’t let the pink color fool you; this wine is not meant to be sweet. This wine is actually quite refreshing, clean and well-balanced. The red fruit flavors come through on the palate, as well as blackberries. It is the perfect aperitif or would be wonderful with savory cheeses.
If you are looking for something a little sweeter, Brachetto d’Acqui from Piedmont, Italy, is a wonderful option. Brachetto d’Acqui is a red “spumante,” which means "sparkling" in Italian, that is relatively low in alcohol. The color is often crimson and has a slight purple hue to it. The aromas and flavors are raspberries, cherries, rose petals and violets. Nine times out of 10, both men and women love this wine. A producer that I particularly like is Banfi. Banfi’s wines are very well-known throughout the wine world for their classic style of making wine. Their Rosa Regale is a classic example of Brachetto d’Acqui.
If bubbles are not what you are looking to enjoy, then red wine all the way. There is nothing better than red wine and chocolate. My two favorite grapes with chocolate are zinfandel and cabernet sauvignon. I find that they go very nicely with both milk and dark chocolate. Trying to stay in budget when shopping for zinfandel and cabernet is where the true difficulty lies. Zinfandel is a versatile grape variety that can be paired throughout the entire meal, which is another reason why I enjoy it so much. Seghesio Family Vineyards is one of my all-time favorite producers, coming out of St. Healdsburg, Calif. Seghesio Family Vineyards are known for their long family history, and they help make you feel at home when you visit their vineyards. Their sonoma zinfandel is affordable and tastes far more expensive than it actually is.
As for cabernet sauvignon, you typically have to spend out of your comfort zone to find a nice cabernet. On the contrary, I have found a cabernet that is extremely affordable and will not break the bank. Santa Rita Medalla Real 2008 from Maipo Valley, Chile, is a recent wine that I was blind tasted on and was shocked. When I think of Chilean wines, I think of earthiness, spice and great values for your money. This proved to be just that. Santa Rita was founded in 1880 by Domingo Fernandez Concha. According to Santa Rita Winery, “They were among the first to pioneer plantings of European grape varieties in Chile.” The dominant grape variety is cabernet sauvignon but also has 5 percent cabernet franc, which is where a lot of the “vegetal” qualities come from. Santa Rita Winery describes this wine as “deep ruby-red in color, with a bouquet of black fruits such as black currants, blueberries and blackberries with dried figs, cigar box and spice notes.” This is another wine that will be great throughout the entire meal.
I hope these few suggestions help you in your quest for the perfect bottle of wine for Valentine’s Day! Cheers!
Michelle Richards is a certified sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers. Along with hosting wine tastings for local organizations, she serves up wine goodness at St. John’s Restaurant. Your can contact her by email. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.