Wine Favorites for Valentine’s Day
By Dave Eckert @eatsanddrinkswithdave
This Valentine’s Day don’t let Covid-19 put a dent in celebrating with your sweetheart. Sure, you can still go out-socially distanced, masked up, and adhering to all the Covid protocol, but for many, this is another time to stay home and perhaps partake in some of the wonderful Valentine’s carry-out menus area restaurants are offering. That’s what I plan on doing, and I will be prepared with the right, romantic bottle (or two) of wine to accompany. With this list of suggested Valentine’s Day wines I’ve amassed, you can be ready too!
There is no better category for this holiday than sparkling wine. Bubbles skip across the palette, tease your olfactory sense, and send a rush of adrenaline from your head to your toes. Here are some choices that check all of my bubble boxes.
Scharffenberger Brut Excellence ($19.99 SRP) One of my favorite domestic sparkling wine producers, Scharffenberger has been crafting elevated sparklers from Mendocino County since 1981. Because they use a good amount of Pinot Noir in their blend, 40% in this case, Scharffenberger’s sparklers are often fuller-bodied than the average domestic bubbly. That’s certainly the case with this Brut Excellence, which is rich and ripe, yet beautifully balanced. A glass of Scharffenberger is a great way to begin or end your Valentine’s Day fete!
Gustave Lorentz Crémant d’Alsace Brut Rose ($24.99 SRP) A much overlooked appellation for sparkling wine, the wines coming out of Alsace with the Crémant d’Alsace moniker provide both excellent value and lovely flavors, aromas, and acidity. One of my favorites is this bottling from Gustave Lorentz. Made from 100% Pinot Noir grapes, the wines are both fresh and discreetly fruity. Great on its own, this sparkler also shines with seafood appetizers (think shrimp cocktail), along with chicken, pork, and other white meats.
J Cuvee 20 Brut ($38 SRP) J’s wines run from strength to strength, but this classic Brut sparkling wine is my absolute favorite. Subtle, complex, and elegant, the J Cuvee 20 Brut walks and delicate line between power and finesse, and it does so beautifully. Looking for a special bottle to mark Valentine’s Day 2021? You can’t go wrong with this one.
La Marca Prosecco Rose ($18 SRP) This is a new category of Prosecco, though rose sparklers have long been my favorites among bottled bubbles. Bright and crisp with floral, fruity notes, the La Marca Prosecco Rose is a refreshing, tasty quaff sure to bring a smile to your face as well as the person with whom you’re sharing the bottle.
Though Valentine’s Day is associated with red, there’s no reason you can’t celebrate the occasion with a bottle of white wine. Here are several options from light, fruity and semi-sweet to full-bodied, complex, and dry.
Obsession Symphony ($9.99 SRP) A cross between Muscat Alexandria and Grenache Gris, the Obession Symphony is unique in its aromas and flavors. Notes of white flowers and honeysuckle leap from the glass as tropical flavors hit your palate. Low in alcohol and off-dry, Obsession Symphony is the perfect match for spicy Asian dishes. Thai food, anyone?
Acrobat Pinot Gris ($15 SRP) A longtime favorite of mine, and one of the best white wine values out there, the Acrobat Pinot Gris hails from Oregon. It delivers all that I want in a white wine: heady aromas, a cornucopia of fresh tree fruit flavors, and a bright, exciting finish. This wine is sure to get the heart pumping-perfect for Valentine’s Day.
Simonsig Chenin Blanc ($10.99 SRP) I’ve been singing the praises of South African Chenin Blanc for a while now, and every time I open a bottle, I’m reminded of why I enjoy them so much. Flavors and aromas of apple, pear, and melon and enhanced by brilliant, bracing acidity, which makes this perfect for cuisine ranging from mussels to chicken. Though there will be no crowds this Valentine’s Day, the Simonsig Chenin is a definite crowd pleaser.
La Crema Sonoma Coast Chardonnay ($25 SRP) A textbook expression of Sonoma Coast Chardonnay, La Crema tames the yeasty wildness of the appellation with notes of fruit and spice a finish of bright acidity. Concentrated and complex, the wine begs for food while leaving you begging for another bottle.
Chalone Vineyard Estate Chardonnay ($30 SRP) Chalone, located in Monterey County’s Pinnacles appellation, knows a thing or two about producing great, classic Chardonnay. Beautifully balanced with touches of stone fruit and minerals, the wine has just the right amount of oak to enhance rather than overwhelm. Close your eyes and you’ll think you’re drinking a White Burgundy (at half the price!).
Fence Stile Vineyards and Winery Fire Pit Red ($27 SRP) A blend of Norton and Chambourcin, this wine smells sweet with notes of chocolate, cherry, and vanilla, but finishes bone dry. A terrific, balanced beauty from this Excelsior Springs winery worthy of sharing on Valentine’s Day, or any day for that matter!
Legende Bordeaux Rouge ($19.99 SRP) From the famed Lafite-Rothschild family comes this classic expression of the world’s greatest appellation for Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet blends-Bordeaux. A cépage of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Merlot, this wine offers a casual elegance not often seen at this price point. Planning on having hearty cuisine this Valentine’s Day? This is the wine for you!
Cote Bonneville Train Station Cabernet Franc ($30 SRP) From one of my favorite wineries on the planet, located in the heart of Washington State’s Yakima Valley, Cote Bonneville’s Cabernet Franc knocked my socks off! Hailing from outstanding DuBrul Vineyard, comes this fruity and spicy masterpiece. With the high tone fruit of a classic Chinon and the minerally, earthiness of Cabernet Franc from Bordeaux, this limited- edition wine is one to seek out!
Dry Creek Vineyard Meritage ($35 SRP) Consistent and consistently delicious, Dry Creek Vineyard turns out a bevy of beautiful wines vintage after vintage. The Meritage, a classic blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot, is approachable while young due to soft tannins and ripe fruit, yet easily capable of aging ten years or more. Dry Creek says the wine embodies the idea of “affordable luxury.” I couldn’t agree more.
Charles Krug Cabernet Sauvignon ($31.99 SRP) Never the shiniest bottle on the wine store shelves, Charles Krug simply turns out excellent, fairly priced wine. You simply cannot go wrong with this classic Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. From the terroir-driving flavors of blackberry and black currant to the oak-enhanced notes of sugar and toffee, Krug’s Cabernet Sauvignon hits all the right notes for a Napa Cab, and all at a reasonable price.
Somerset Ridge Vineyard and Winery Tawny ($19.99 SRP) A new discovery for me, this dessert wine from Somerset Ridge, located in Paola, Kansas, burst its way onto my Valentine’s Day list. Made in the traditional Port-style using a blend of white and red grapes, Somerset’s Tawny is everything a Tawny Port should be nutty and smoky with layers of caramel and vanilla. A great value and a great addition your Valentine’s Day evening.
Ramos Pinto Quinta de Ervamoira 10-year Tawny ($39.99 SRP) With flavors of orange, apricot, and plum, and boasting the classic orange-red color, Ramos Pinto’s 10-year-Tawny is both complex and entirely approachable. Try this beauty with any dessert comprised of dried fruit or nuts.
Gonzalez Byass Nectar Pedro Ximenez ($32 SRP) If you’ve never had this version of Sherry, you simply don’t know what you’re missing. Aged eight years in cask, the Nectar envelopes your senses with rich aromas of raisins, figs, dates, honey, and jam. Nice acidity keeps the wine fresh and the sweetness in check, though there’s no debating this wine’s prowess with desserts. I’d go with dark chocolate myself, but you could just as easily pour it over some vanilla ice cream.
Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!