You’ve got the reservation at your favorite, romantic Italian restaurant. You have the proverbial heart shaped box of chocolates hidden by your toolbox in the basement. The jewelry is wrapped in a pretty little box (and hidden in your toolbox). Your flower strategy has been committed to memory (call in the morning, pick up in the evening). Now there’s just one more thing to take care of for this Valentine’s Day… the wine!
I’ve failed before on this holiday and the common thread each time was lack of Champagne (it had NOTHING to do with me, of course, I’m putting ALL the blame on the missing bubbles… despite what my past dates and wife have told me). Champagne is such a perfect Valentine’s Day wine for so many reasons.
Plan the Perfect Evening
Valentine’s Day is all about romance, correct? Well, nothing says ‘I love you,’ better than a bottle of Champagne (or Prosecco, Cava, etc… just something that pops when you open it). Just think about it, Champagne is a big part of wedding celebrations (from the proposal, to the wedding day toast, a flute of Champagne is one of the images that jumps to mind), anniversaries, and it goes hand in hand with a New Year’s Eve stroke of midnight embrace with a significant other.
It’s the perfect romantic beverage, but it’s also a classic beginning to any celebratory night. Popping a bottle and watching the tiny bubbles fizz to the top of a flute, sets the tone for a romantic evening. And in terms of prepping the palate for a beautiful dinner, sparkling wines work wonders to enliven the palate and get the taste buds fired up.
And if you want to keep drinking Champagne throughout the entire meal, by all means do. Champagne is one of the most (maybe THE most) unheralded wines when it comes to pairing with a variety of entrees. It pairs nicely with lighter salad-type dishes, soups, fish dishes, roasted chicken and many others. If you’re going with rich, luxurious entrees this Valentine’s Day (that seems appropriate), something like a lobster bisque, baked lobster (anything with lobster), or filet mignon, the bright/crisp qualities of Champagne makes for the perfect food pairing.
Rosé Sparkling Wines
I’m a fan of just about any type of Champagne, but on Valentine’s Day, I’m going Rosé all the way! With red fruit notes and a fuller body than many non-Rosé sparkling wines, this will work from the beginning of the meal all the way to the steak that I’m going to order. And, of course, it’s a great starter (might as well just keep drinking Champagne all night). Oh, and how could I forget… it’s PINK, so of course Rosé on Valentine’s Day is appropriate!
Ok, we have the start of the evening all set, so what about the nightcap, what are we drinking after dinner? I could make a lot of sweetheart, sweetie-type lead-ins here, but that seems easy/obvious, so I’ll spare you that and just say it: SWEET WINES!
There are all sorts of wonderful dessert wines out there, from Sauternes to Ice Wines and from Vin Santos to Muscats. The two that I think work best with Valentine’s Day, however, are Ports and Moscato d’Asti. Here’s why…
What would Valentine’s Day be without chocolate?! That ubiquitous box of chocolates has no better pair than a nice bottle of Port. Whether caramel filled or raspberry filled, a glass of Port complements those flavors beautifully (if we’re getting picky here, go with a Tawny Port with the caramel filled chocolate and a Vintage Port with the berry filled versions).
Of course, a nice glass of Port is dessert in and of itself, so feel free to skip the candy and stick with the drink. Port’s slightly higher alcohol content (20%) makes it a perfect end of the night warming sipper.
If Port’s not your thing, and you prefer something lighter and fresher, then a nice Moscato d’Asti might be the glass for you. With bright honey and peach notes, this lightly fizzy wine is ideal with fresh fruit and cream-based desserts. It also won’t be a heavy way to end a meal, as Moscato d’Asti goes the opposite way of Port in that it is low in alcohol (between about 5 and 6%).
And if you’re not a Champagne drinker (I’m not going to be rude here and say that I feel sorry for you…I’ll just think it in my head), if you prefer something a little sweeter, Moscato d’Asti is a nice alternative to start off your Valentine’s Day evening. It’s not as bubbly as a Champagne, but it does have a frizzante quality to it that makes it a worthy substitute.
Reservations, candy, jewelry, roses and wines; check, check, check, check and CHECK. With your strategy planned, NOW you’re really all set for the perfect Valentine’s Day for you and your special someone. And remember, if something goes wrong, I’m taking none of the blame