Fine wine for your Valentine

The most sacred day for lovers is almost upon us and you had better get busy planning what to do for your Valentine. If he or she is into wine, a decent bottle or two accompanied by goodies or nibbles, all nicely gift-wrapped, is sure to win their hearts. Although most choices will do, there are some styles and varietals that simply have more panache and are vastly sexier than others for this occasion. Price here is not the issue. It’s more about what they represent.

El primo has to be bubbly, the wine of romance and celebration. Bubbly can be made four different ways. The most prestigious and renown is the Champagne method (2nd fermentation in the same bottle), named after the region in northern France. Many other wines are made this way elsewhere in the world. Then there is the Tank or Charmat method (2nd fermentation in a large tank and the wine then bottled under pressure). Thirdly, there’s the Transfer method (2nd fermentation in the bottle then the wine is emptied into a tank for cleaning and rebottled again under pressure). The final method, injection, involves pumping CO2 into a tank of still wine. Whatever the method of putting bubbles into the wine, the result can’t be matched as Sparkles has “amour” written all over it. Add a couple of flutes (bubbly glasses) and candles and behold heaven.

Next up on my list of romantic nectars has got to be sweet wine. They’re sure to help Cupid’s arrow find its mark. Be patriotic and choose our own world-famous icewine, or vie for one of our Late Harvest selections. French wine aficionados will drool over Sauternes or Barsac from Bordeaux. Perhaps a Late Harvest German Riesling will light their fire. Maybe Port or Madeira from Portugal or Sherry from Spain is their weakness. How about Tokaji Aszu from Hungary? It’s dynamite. Whatever you decide on, remember that if you add some chocolates, cookies, cakes or veiny cheese to the package, you might have a hard time fighting them off.  So “sweets for your sweet and sugar for your honey” could definitely help love bloom this year.

And what of rosé? Only for the warm weather, you say? Listen up. There’s just something about the colour pink that makes it romantic. Lots of decent rosés from many countries exist. They’ll add that splash of pizazz to the day. Most are not expensive so add some cheese, crackers, paté and a couple of tasting glasses to top them off.

Bubbly, sweeties and rosé aside, you could simply get your par amour a vino or two that they really like. If they have a passion for a specific wine or grape variety, you know you’ll gain lots of brownie points by indulging them. For many folks, Amarone from Italy, is the cat’s meow. Big, rich and powerful, this velvety red is a religious experience. Amazing with Parmigiano- Regianno cheese, a couple drops of Balsamic vinegar and some crusty bread, you’ll think you’ve died and gone to heaven. When you think about it, its name almost sounds like “amour”.

Does your heart-mate adore Pinot Noir? This wine speaks volumes for elegance, finesse, perfumed fruit/flowers and savory spice and a great Pinot is seductive and ethereal. Although it can be finicky, great samples persist. Perhaps the best and most consistent come from Burgundy, France, but fine selections can be found from Ontario, British Columbia, New Zealand, South Africa and the states of Oregon and California. Add some duck paté and crackers for a delicious, romantic interlude.

A final style that many wine lovers enjoy is the blended red, one made from several grape varieties. At the top of the list is none other than Bordeaux from France. However, many other ‘Meritage’ (sounds like marriage, doesn’t it) blends with fictitious or branded names are produced all over the world, so selection is huge. Adding some paté, medium-hard cheese and crusty bread to this package will have hearts a fluttering.

Edward Finstein, a.k.a. The Wine Doctor, is a wine writer, educator, judge &  consultant.

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