So Valentine’s Day is just around the corner.
I know the years are said to fly by as one ages, but gee whiz! I swear it was Feb. 14 just a couple of months ago. Where does the time go?
But at this point, with only five days until the official day of hearts and flowers, champagne and romance, a more pertinent question might be this: What might you give to for your partner if he/she is into wine?
The good news, as you aficionados already know, is that, taking his/her tastes and preferences into account, pretty much any wine should satisfy your sweetheart. I mean, the standard colours associated with this occasion are red, white and pink, and standard wine colours are red, white and pink! So already, thematically at least, you’re ahead of the game.
If your loved one is into all kinds of wine, why not a wine ‘bouquet’ — that is, a bottle of each colour, just to show how very thoughtful and clever you can be?
And, if you want to be cleverer still, why not something with ‘heart’ or ‘love’ connected (however obscurely) to the name of the wine? Cheesy, perhaps, but cheese goes with wine as well, and you can at least point out you put some thought into your choice(s) rather than just picking up a bottle of the same old thing.
For a red, I can’t recommend the 2008 Heartland Dolcetto & Lagrein from Australia more heart-ily! I had it at a dinner party last summer, and it was simply scrumptious. It’s a fairly heart-y wine, with the blend of the two varietals (Dolcetto and Lagrein) making for a really meaty, rich final product. The aroma is of blackberry and herbs, and the flavour blends those with black pepper, cedar and cherry. Sounds bizarre, I know, but if you like big, savoury wines, this one’s for you or your sweetheart. It sells for $22.49 a bottle.
If you’d rather go for a big red varietal that's a little more familiar, Heartland also makes a lovely Shiraz that has all the usual characteristics — dark berries, pepper and chocolate notes with a little leathery tobacco thrown in for good measure. This wine, too, is gutsy, and sells for $19.99 a bottle.
I've not had this next wine, but the name certainly might fit in with some people's Valentine plans. It's a New Zealand Pinot Noir — the 2010 vintage — and the price tag of $29.66 may be worth it to you if you consider the brand.
Need I say more?
Ditto with the next one, another Aussie Shiraz that'll set you back $21.08, called ‘The Love Grass.’ I don't know what it's like, but I adore the name.
Technically, I struck out on my theme when I went looking for a white and a rosé with ‘love’ or ‘heart’ in the name. But if we stretch the premise just a bit, don’t many folks get together with others on Valentine’s Day? Don’t they congregate and enjoy the company of those they may know well, or perhaps not so well? Don’t they circulate? Don’t they chat?
Don’t they mingle?
I think they might. So I consequently suggest a very approachable white that keeps on giving long after the sip has slipped away.
The 2010 Mingle by Duck Pond from Washington state is a blend of Chardonnay and Semillon, which offer body and a buttery, silky mouthfeel to the mixture, and Riesling and Gewurztraminer that supply fruity, floral notes. While the wine initially seems a bit citrusy and is delicate, it turns just a tad off-dry — not sweet, but off-dry — with notes of vanilla caramel on the long-lasting finish. This is really a very, very pleasant beverage, one that I suspect would please a lot of palates for $14.24 a bottle.
For the pink segment of your bouquet, here’s one that’s unique but truly special. The Codorniu Pinot Noir Brut from Spain is a sparkling wine that’s very dry, very elegant, and very pink. But don’t let the colour put you off — this is a truly lovely wine that’s robust and is a steal, I think, at $17.99 a bottle. And really, there’s nothing like bubbly wine to make an occasion. So if you’re looking to make an impression — a good one — this February 14th, the Codorniu Brut comes highly recommended.
And if bubbly is beautiful, Champagne is shmashing! (I’m giving myself a lot of leeway — or rope, if you think that’s more appropriate — here, so just let me run with this, please. We’re almost done.)
Naturally, because of its history, its mystique and its charm, Champagne is often thought of as the perfect gift for a special Valentine. As I’ve said in this space many times, I love Veuve Clicquot Brut, which sells for $68.31 a bottle. (Fans of this dry Champers can also snag a half-bottle of it for $38.98.) If your sweetie is into something a little sweet-er, try the Veuve Clicquot Demi Sec Champagne for a few dollars more — $72.56 a bottle.
So to those who will celebrate the Day of St. Valentine with someone they love, like, or hope to get to know better, as well as those who are uncommitted and revelling in that state, cheers! Here’s to life, to love and a glass — or two — of great wine!