Start the celebration with rosé Champagne, made by allowing the must (the grape juice) to remain in contact with the skins of the grapes for several hours during the initial fermentation process. This allows the color to develop (the wine is white, but the pinot noir grape skins are red). Alternatively, a small amount of pinot noir wine is added to the bottle of Champagne before it begins its second fermentation.
KRIS PRASAD is Wine Editor of THE NIBBLE.
Last updated February 2010
Product Reviews / Main Nibbles / Wine
My Bubbly Valentine: Valentine Wines
Champagne & Other Special Wines For Your Valentine’s Day Celebration
Roses: check. Reservations: check. Now, what about those wines for your evening in paradise?
Should you pick something special for Valentine’s Day? Look for the most expensive and impressive? No need: here are delicious, off-the-beaten-path value wines (and one splurge wine) that would please the palate of any sommelier. See if you notice a pattern.
Sparklers To Start
Reds & Whites
Sparklers To Start
Iron Horse Brut Rosé 2003: $50
To go along with the roses, a rosé that will bring a rosy flush to the cheeks: a deeps pink coral with a classic wild-strawberry scent that comes from cold-fermented pinot noir. Bracing and luscious at the same time, this rosé has ripe raspberry fruit along with strawberry undertones and an elegant bead of bubbles. A delightful way to begin the evening.
Moet Chandon Nectar Imperial Rosé NV: $60
Apple-red rather than pink, this is not a Brut-style Champagne but a demi-sec (semisweet). It is easy to see why, if the Iron Horse is luscious, this Champagne is Luscious with a capital “L.” Intensely ripe strawberry and red-currant flavors, a fleshy profile, and a sweet disposition make it a super match with spicy (real spicy) food, as well as with fruit-based desserts. A good choice if you or your date don’t like bone-dry wines.
Pierre Peters NV Brut, Grand Cru Reserve: $40
The most recent release is richer than past bottlings. It is full bodied and intense with hints of tropical fruits. Quite complex and broad in mid palate, it fills the mouth with soft creamy fruit. Yet the finish is nearly bone dry and not sweet. One of our favorite small grower champagnes.
lyellow tail] Bubbly Rosé: $10
It doesn’t get better than this for the price. This rose sparkler has great body and flavor, plus a nose of fresh strawberries and cherries. A delight on the palate, it’s so affordable that you shouldn’t wait for a special occasion.
Duboeuf Saint Amour Domaine du Paradis 2005: $15
Amore, amor or amour, any which way you call love, this bottle of wine will definitely keep the focus on the subject. This Beaujolais cru is the northernmost of the ten famous crus of the region and is also the easiest and softest of all of them to drink and enjoy. This 2005 is a medium weight wine with hints of red fruits (cherries and strawberries) with lush fruit framed by piquant acidity and has a sensually fragrant finish.
Vietti Barbera d’Alba Scarrone 2005: $45
Barbera always has been a Vietti specialty. The winery has been making wines with single vineyard designations since 1950s, long before it was fashionable to do so. This wine comes from the site called Scarrone and the vines here are more than 35 years old, which is quite old. This wine has a rich mouthfeel with flavors of black fruits and baking spices. The characteristic Barbera acidity kicks in at the mid-palate and gently escorts the vibrant fruit towards a long and lip-smacking finish. If this is not available, equally worthy bottles of 2005 are made by Giacosa, Paitin and La Spinetta.
Sine Qua Non Just For The Love of It: $350
The intense, distinctive wines of Elaine and Manfred Krankl sell out quickly: they are some of the very best wines produced in the United States. Expensive and obviously not for everyone—both in terms of the price and the nature of the wine—this 96% syrah wine is altogether massive and broad, powerful and unsubtle. It makes its intentions known from the first whiff and robust entry onto the palate, to the weighty middle, to the long finish. And what a way to finish—finish a meal, I mean. If this is your style, and if you’ve got the bucks, well, then go for it.
A Loving Wine Tasting From Maine
Cellar Door Winery
For loving occasions, Maine’s Cellar Door Winery produces both red and white wines with names such as Perfect Stranger, Prince Valiant, Serendipity, Sweetheart and Treasure. You could create an entire Valentine’s Day tasting party from them (or keep them in mind for a wedding, an engagement party or anniversary party)/
Amarula Liqueur: $20
The marula tree grows only on the warm, frost-free plains of subequatorial Africa. It cannot be cultivated, so the fruit must be harvested in the wild, where it stands ripening under the African sun. The marula fruit is smallish—perhaps the size of a large plum—and is favored by elephants for its sweetness; they ram the trees to get the fruit to fall. It starts to ferment after falling to the ground, and when elephants eat too much of the fermented fruit, they tend to behave in a slightly drunken fashion. Among some tribes, the tree is known as “The Marriage Tree,” as the fruit is accredited with special aphrodisiac properties. Many marriage ceremonies are still held under the marula tree, so this liqueur is very appropriate for Valentine’s Day. The marula fruit is made into beer, jellies, jams and a superb milk chocolate-colored wild-fruit cream liqueur that is delicious over ice or added to coffee. Sweet with the tanginess of the exotic fruit, it is hard to restrain oneself to just a glassful. We taste many a liqueur, and this is worth seeking out. Definitely a sweet for your sweet, something exotic for a special day, complete with tales of aphrodisiac qualities and inebriated elephants.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
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