To woo your beloved, or intended, with wine
Chocolates are cliché and rosés win out over roses any day. What about swapping the overpriced heart shaped box for something that will get your Valentine’s heart, and palate, racing? A little thought goes a long way with wine, especially if you gift these along with a home-cooked meal, or card with the promise of a future pairing to come (the wine, and you).
Ontario’s Sara d’Amato (SD), Quebec’s Bill Zacharkiw (BZ) and I (TR) from British Columbia offer up suggestions to woo your beloved or intended with wine.
~ Treve Ring
All That Sparkles Are Not Diamonds
Forget expensive jewellery. Nothing signals celebration more than a flute of sparkling wine, and our choices below won’t cost two months salary (and some will last longer than most marriages). Ideal any time of day or night, there is a sparkling wine to pair with any dish, and every person.
SD. Let this lovely Prince Edward County Huff 2012 Cuvée Janine Sparkling Rosé do the charming for you. This local find features dried red fruit and fragrant floral notes, laced with the County’s elegant mineral character. Starting off your day with the traditional method Chandon Rosé Sparkling from California will save yourself from the cost of Champagne, and if your thrifty ways aren’t enough to impress, this sensational, pink-hue delicacy is sure to amp up the romance
BZ. Celebrate love with Champagne. I have always maintained that great Champagne is best drunk with one other person, so a little tête a tête will get the proper lift with the right Champagne. If you want to go all in, my favourite cuvée of love is Perrier Jouet 2006 Belle Epoque. From the flowers on the bottle to the refined elegance, you can do no wrong pooping the cork on this bottle. At close to $200, Belle Époque can be a bit pricey. But you can still get elegance and finesse at a more reasonable price with Henriot’s Blanc de Blanc.
TR. Perfect way to kick off a special date, or make a regular day special instantly? Fresh oysters and champagne. Champagne Pierre Gimonnet & Fils Cuis 1er Cru Blanc de Blancs Brut is pristine elegance, and worthy of the occasion. This linear, vibrant Grower Champagne is crisp green apple, mineral, white flowers and lemon pith, with a clean, pure delivery and lengthy mineral finish. Pass the oysters.
And for Sunday brunch on the 15th, pop the cork on a bottle of Lini 910 Labrusca Rosso. This dry, fruity Lambrusco has plum, blueberry and cherry compote depth, tannin to tackle foods plus fresh and taut acidity to carry them. And bubbles! Pour with savoury waffles with blackberry and bacon, or mushroom and spicy sausage poached eggs.
These white wines are versatile, friendly and alluring, a bit adventurous, a lot electric and memorable – just like your sweetheart.
SD. Unique, relatively rare to find in these parts and terrifically compelling, the dry whites of Jurançon also have a very sexy reputation. Produced from grapes gros and petit manseng grapes and grown on the foothills of the Pyrenees, the wine was historically thought to contribute to virility. The early 20th century French poet Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette seemed to agree and famously spoke of the provocative nature of Jurançon wine as “séduction du vert gallant”. In an effort to fight obscurity, producers of the region came out with an advertisement claiming: “Jurancon = Manseng = Sex” – a plain and simple equation. Think you can handle the power of the seductive Château De Jurque 2012 Fantaisie Jurançon Sec?
Nervy, electric and exciting, Niagara riesling is sharp as a whip and irresistibly flirtatious. Vineland Estates 2012 Elevation St. Urban Vineyard Riesling from Vineland Estates hails from some of the oldest riesling plantings in the region and delivers a spine chilling sensation sure to make your date cozy up.
BZ. If bubbles aren’t your thing, how about a rich and seductive white? Pierre Gaillard’s 2013 Condrieu is a thought provoking and sensual wine that is like an hour long hug in front of a fire. Try it with tender seared scallops.
If you want a touch more freshness, but still luxurious and rich, the Schug’s 2013 Chardonnay will do the job. Can California make balanced and interesting chardonnay? You bet they can. Break out the lobster for this creamy white.
TR. The full, creamy, textured palate of Pentage Winery 2011 Roussanne Marsanne Viognier is not a shy wine; fortunately, Valentine’s Day is not the day to be shy. With heady seashell, peach fuzz and honeysuckle, this intriguing wine from the Okanagan’s Skaha Bench is best discussed with someone, preferably over prosciutto and melon.
Part of the fun of being a couple is adventuring together. The Luis Pato 2012 Vinhas Velhas Branco, a blend of indigenous Portuguese grapes becal, cerceal and sercialinho is a wine adventure worth exploring. Lose yourselves in this bright, crisp and herbal kissed wine, textured with white peach and quince and finishing with beauty freshness and energy. Pour this with confidence (and grilled white fish and walnut arugula salad) and a second date is yours, confirmed.
When things are getting serious, it’s time to bring out the big guns, or at least, the main course (and some tannins to cut to the chase). These reds range from fresh and spicy, to sultry and seductive, to age-worthy and rare.
SD. There is little sexier than a musky, peppery, evocative red from Chile’s coastal region of Casablanca. Cool climate syrah has a uniquely titillating quality that can give you goosebumps in the same way that only a lover’s first touch can provoke. With Casas Del Bosque 2012 Gran Reserva Syrah, perhaps a date this Valentine’s isn’t required . . .
Super Tuscans were created to be powerful, forthright and a blend of modern inspiration with old world character. For these reasons, they are almost universally appreciated and a great example, such as Argentiera 2011 Poggio Ai Ginepri, a densely concentrated blend of cabernet sauvignon, syrah and merlot, is sure to make an impact on even the pickiest of dates.
BZ. If you want to go red, there is no lack of love bottles out there. If you want to go delicate, perfumed and romantic, the 2013 Frappato from COS is ideal. So delicate, and with very potent aromatics it will take you from a lighter meal to the couch with ease.
But if you want a wine that will ignite the passion with a touch more torque, then Bill Easton’s Terre Rouge Tête a Tête is a great choice. Cold foie gras, braised meats, richer cheeses, this Rhone styled blend will handle them all with confidence, allowing you an easy evening tête a tête with your Valentine.
TR. Diamonds may be forever, but Golden Stones are for sharing, and isn’t that what this is about. Jean-Paul Brun Terres Dorèes l’Ancien Beaujolais 2012 comes from a limestone-rich area known as the Region of the Golden Stones. From vines 50-80 years old, this biodynamically farmed wine opens with potent white pepper and fine rasped cloves before bright cherry, dried sage and sea salt on the juicy palate. Elegant and honest; a beautiful match for your herb trussed poultry or pork tenderloin.
Special times call for special wines. Marquès de Murrieta Rioja Reserva Finca Ygay 2008 comes from a pristine, peaceful, unhurried and untouched estate in Rioja, and is a memorable and thoughtful way to set the stage for a lingering date. The quietly confident blend of tempranillo, garnacha, mazuelo and graciano carries worn leather, fragrant red florals and sun warmed pottery across long, fine tannins. Drinking lovely now with tender young lamb or truffles, but will continue to gain complexity over the next five-ten years (your anniversary?)
And if you are still looking for ideas, take our advice with rosés over roses for Valentine’s Day. Here are Treve’s rosé picks for Valentine’s Day from last year for inspiration.
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