Ask A Boston Wine Expert: Popular Valentine’s Day Wine (With Food Pairings)

February 12, 2014 6:42 AM

Guest Post By: Wes Narron, Chief Wine Ambassador of City Wine Tours

Valentine’s Day is a time when you get to spend a bit more money for your good time. Flowers, prix-fixe dinners, chocolates…everything gets marked up a few bucks. Thanks for nothing, Cupid. But, Ace, now is not the time for bargain hunting, not with the unspoken understanding of bedtime high jinks hanging in the air. You want to make a good impression on your beloved, so stop making yourself look like an ignorant fool, ordering the “house white.” Relax; with me here as your wine wing-man, you’ll be as smooth as Ryan Gosling showing off his heart-melting boy band moves.

Lots of wine articles tell you about wonderful wines from quaint small production vineyards. Pfft! That’s us wine geeks showing off for each other. Those wines won’t be carried at your local wine shop and you won’t find them on your typical restaurant wine list, either. So, I’m showing you wines you can find in your wine shop and in lots of restaurants, priced appropriately (i.e. restaurant prices marked up 250 percent).

You’re going out for a romantic dinner. Not getting takeout, not cooking in. Make that reservation RIGHT NOW! Here’s how to pick the right wine, to match the right aphrodisiac Valentine’s Day food.

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Oysters and Chablis

Christian Moreau Chablis Premier Cru Vaillon 2010

$35 shop, $79 restaurant

This classic combination works because of the soil in which the grapevines grow. Chablis is a region in Burgundy, France where the Kimmeridgean limestone soil is composed of fossilized oyster shells. Don’t be intimidated by ordering a wine from Burgundy. Remember, red Burgundy is Pinot Noir, white Burgundy is Chardonnay. Chablis is basically a dry, white, unoaked Chardonnay. Can’t find Chablis? Try the Joel
Gott Unoaked Chardonnay from Monterey, California: $16 shop, $45 restaurant.

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Asparagus and Sauvignon Blanc

Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2013

$30 shop, $60 restaurant

Asparagus is an aphrodisiac? Yep, that long, fibrous shaft is packed with the nutrients necessary to boost hormone production. And, it’s one of the most difficult foods to pair with wine. Get yourself a Sauvignon Blanc from the Marlborough region of New Zealand. New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc tends towards grassy, grapefruit flavors. The Cloudy Bay is one of the most sought after wines, the quintessential balance of acidity and fresh fruit. Can’t find Cloudy Bay? Grab the Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc, also from Marlborough, New Zealand: $16 shop, $40 restaurant.

Sushi and Champagne

Veuve Cliquot Rose’ Champagne

$79 shop, $150 restaurant

My girlfriend says sushi is the world’s sexiest food. She claims eating sushi is adventurous, delicious, and makes her feel healthy, alive, and passionate. Uh, I can be a clueless, never-listening male, but even I can pick up those clues: sexy, adventure, passion. We’ll be going out for sushi on February 14th. Champagne is the ideal wine for sushi. Crisp, sharp bubbles that clean your palette and make any meal feel like a festive occasion. Another overlooked wine to serve with sushi: Pinot Noir! Champagne is typically a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier. The Veuve Cliquot Rose’ is made with 55% Pinot Noir. If you can’t find the Veuve Cliquot Rose’, I can’t help you. Go somewhere else.

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Chocolate and Brachetto d’Acqui

Banfi Rosa Regale 2011

$20 shop, $50 restaurant

A popular suggestion is to pair chocolate with Cabernet Sauvignon. Let me say, “Yuck!” Sure, if you enjoy dark, bittersweet, stone ground Mexican chocolate, Cabernet Sauvignon can be a good pairing. But, for the rest of us, can we just have something that tastes good? Valentine’s Day isn’t the time for a lesson in being a connoisseur. Are you planning to go home and groove to some Sonic Youth or Sun Ra, too, smart guy? Lighten up and do something easy. There’s a reason you find molten chocolate cake on so many dessert menus. It’s always so decadent and yummy. Pair your chocolate dessert with something sweet. A good rule to follow: the dessert should be just a bit sweeter than the wine. Brachetto d’ Acqui is a slighty sweet, gently fizzy Italian red wine from the Piedmont region that shows flavors of strawberries and rose petals. Legend has it that Julius Caesar and Marc Antony presented Cleopatra with several gourds of Brachetto d’Acqui as a way of inflaming her passion. Here’s hoping your seductive powers are just as successful. If you can’t find the Banfi Rosa Regale, look for an Ice Wine, like the Jackson Triggs Vidal Blanc. You can get a 187 ml bottle, perfect for 2 glasses: $29 shop, $40 restaurant.

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Who needs pairing?

Hugel Pinot Blanc Cuvee Les Amours 2010

$16 shop, $35 restaurant

My sweetie says she doesn’t really care what kind of wine we drink. But she always gets enthusiastic whenever she tries something I know is special. My favorite wine is the Hugel Cuvee Les Amours Pinot Blanc from Alsace, France. Pinot Blanc is a dry, white wine with apple and pear flavors, a kiss of sweetness, and no oaky aftertaste, because it ages in stainless steel tanks. I’ll bet you already know your sweetie’s favorite wine. If you don’t, you still have time to ask! Because really, remembering what someone likes is the most seductive quality you can have.

What you don’t want to order for Valentine’s Day: thick cuts of steak, bacon-wrapped anything, or prime rib. Tonight is the night to be light and agile, my friend, not sleepy and bogged down. Leave the Red Zinfandel, Barolo, and Petit Syrah for another time. Let’s make this a night we remember.

Wes Narron is the Chief Wine Ambassador of City Wine Tours and thinks learning about wine should be as much fun as drinking it. City Wine Tours hosts weekend wine tasting tours in several Boston and NYC neighborhoods, plans corporate and private events, and encourages learned debauchery.