I’m issuing a critically important alert to folks who share my gender: Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, and you better be ready!
Men, believe me when I say that special person in your life takes this annual holiday VERY seriously. I learned this the hard way several years ago when I arrived home from work one day to find the house dimly lit with candlelight, and the rooms suffused with heavenly aromas of freshly baked bread. On the dining room table was a carafe of red wine, a rose in a vase with a Hallmark card the size of an aardvark leaning against it. Could I have entered the wrong home? Was I in a parallel universe?
Unfortunately, I had arrived at the correct address, but I had forgotten it was Valentine’s Day. For the next several weeks there was a definite chill in the air, and it was especially frigid in one particular room in the house. It took me quite a while to earn my “get out of the doghouse card.” So now, February 14th is forever indelibly etched into the recesses of my feeble mind.
I know you won’t make the same mistake and you’ll probably shower your significant other with jewelry, flowers or candy. However, I also suggest adding a bottle of tasty (as well as tasteful) romance-enhancing wine to your card or other Valentine gift. And, since the traditional Valentine’s Day colors are red and pink, I’m recommending wines that highlight those particular hues.
Whether you celebrate the day with a nice dinner at home or at your favorite restaurant, you should start the celebration with a sparkling wine or Champagne to set the mood and make the event even more effervescent. Give one or both of these bottles a try.
Mumm Napa Cuvee M ($30) From the famous Champagne house of Mumm, this slightly sweet Napa Valley sparkling rose’ is chock full of raspberry and strawberry flavors. It also has nuances of toast, vanilla and honey, and it would be an equally good aperitif or dessert wine.
2020 Schramsberg Blanc de Noirs ($45) Produced from pinot noir grapes, this sparkler is made in a classic Brut Champagne style. It is a complex and layered wine featuring flavors of peach, apricot and lemon zest. It would be a lovely accompaniment to appetizer foods such as smoked salmon, or main course dishes such as pan-seared halibut.
Another excellent wine choice for Valentine’s Day dinner is rose’. There are a great number of food friendly rose’s, including this one from Mendocino County California. The 2021 Elizabeth Spenser Rose’ of Grenache ($25) is a medium bodied wine that has subtle hints of pineapple and other tropical fruit flavors. The wine has excellent balancing acidity making it a great food wine. It pairs well with brunch type dishes as well as baked ham, pork tenderloin or even grilled salmon main courses.
If your Valentine date prefers red wine, you should try the 2021 Quilt Cabernet Sauvignon ($50). This Napa Valley full-bodied and rich cabernet has flavors of dark chocolate, blackberries and cola. It would be a perfect match for hearty meat dishes such as grilled beef tenderloin or roast prime rib.
For dessert, I would treat my Valentine to the decadently rich and sweet Dolce Late Harvest Semillon ($100). This 375 ML (half bottle) is a truly special treat with amazing flavors of apricot, honey and spice. It also features the unique flavor of botrytis-affected grapes that add a lovely tang of acidity to the wine known colloquially as the “Noble Rot.” Spectacular by itself, it would be an amazing pairing with crème brulee or cheesecake.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
John Brown is also a novelist. His latest book, Augie’s World, is a sequel to his debut novel, Augie’s War. Both novels are available in print and audio at Amazon. You can find out more about his novels and wine columns at wordsbyjohnbrown.com