Suggestions from the Valentine Sommelier
Wines of the WeekMiguel Torres of Spain offers both a red and white San Valentin. They are both gentle, well made, easy going wines that will fit comfortably into any modest Valentine tête-a-tête. San Valentin 2005 Garnacha ***1/2 ($13.75, Vintages 673541) is cuddly, jammy, slightly peppery red grenache for sipping and casual meals. San Valentin 2005 Parellada *** ($13.75, Vintages 673988) is an aromatic, fresh, soft dry white from the Spanish grape variety that forms the backbone of Spanish cava.
When it comes to inciting romance a bottle of wine can go along way. This is not news. But perhaps on no other occasion is the selection of a single bottle as important, and excruciating, for all the messages your selection might send. Below are some hopefully helpful and entertaining ideas:
The No Brainer
St. Amour from Beaujolais is a shoe-in, although the currently available Sylvain Fessy 2005 Les Valentines **1/2 ($17.95, Vintages 7575) is no sweetheart—a bit too woodsy and earthy. The Valentine Sommelier would substitute Chateau de Raousset 2005 Chiroubles **** (7997, $19.75), deftly pointing out that it too is a Cru gamay from a nearby village that actually makes some of the most charming Beaujolais.
To Avoid Appearing Cheap
Don’t ask your server to ‘Bag it Back’ your empty bottle so that you can get the 20 cent refund at the Beer Store.
Instead of a Box of Chocolates
The Valentine Sommelier was going to suggest Rush Creek 2005 Decadance Strawberry Chocolate ** ($9.75, 18614) fruit wine but there is virtually none left in GTA LCBO stores. Guess where the largest allotment was available as of Feb. 11—Niagara Falls! Second largest? Dryden, the romance capital, it seems, of the great white Ontario northwest.
All-Out Serious Pink
No other wine quite captures the essence of the day like pink French Champagne. Pol Roger 1999 Brut Rosé **** ($89.95, Vintages 82495) has a wonderfully pure and delicate touch with strawberry, raspberry, mineral and a touch of icing sugar sweetness. Very good fruit focus, which is amazing in a seven-year-old wine of this finesse. Moet & Chandon 1999 Rose Champagne **** ($89.95, Vintages 461160) is equally good if more powerful, slightly more yeasty. There’s less stock remaining in the city.
Especially a propos for serving to any partner or date with the first name, middle name, nickname or pet name of Lillian (or derivatives thereof). Colio CEV 2004 Lily Blanc de Noir ***1/2 ($14.75, Vintages 618512) is a very pleasant, genteel and pure new sparkling wine from one of Ontario’s largest producers. One of the best they’ve ever done.
The Perfect Wine For Multi-Partner Relationships
Conundrum **** ($28.75, Vintages Essential). A big, sweetish delicious, and confusing California blend of several white grapes. Can be sipped or dabbed behind the ears.
The Half Serious Red
The Valentine Sommelier highly recommends half-bottles during a fine dinner for two, especially when moderation is to be considered for any number of post-dining reasons. Top drop in this department—and not even that expensive—is Bordeaux’s Les Tourelles de Longueville 2003 Pauillac ****1/2 ($24.95/375ml, Vintages 19414). Wonderful heady bouquet and a creamy, supple texture. Seriously good, but let it breathe—heavily—for an hour in a decanter before dinner.
Serve With Roses
Chateau La Coupe Roses 2004 Granaxa ***1/2 ($20.75, Vintages 17749) is a delicious, savoury red from the Minervois region of the south of France. The roses may seem a contrived reason to serve it on Valentine’s Day, but it is actually a highly sensual wine, created by a husband and wife team—Francois and Pascal Frissant—who are both artists and vintners who imbue every thing they do with sensuality (met them a few years ago and still remember them).
Won’t Deliver as Promised—Yet
Beware Chateau Haut Monplaisir ***1/2 (936534, $19.95). Although you might be tempted by the name to think this will heighten your pleasure, this deep, dark tannic malbec from the village of Cahors in southwest France is a wine that needs to be laid down (by itself) until at least Valentines Day 2010.
Three Not to Order On a First Valentines Date
Tetra-paks called Naked Grape, Frisky Zebras or Red Lips.
Not to Order on any Valentine Date (unless snowshoeing or dogsledding)
May your Valentine’s Day be all that you hoped! Cheers.