I don’t like to celebrate Valentine’s Day the traditional way: dining in packed restaurants and overpaying for food and wine are not my favorite things. But I do love to celebrate. So, I cook at home and drink some excellent—and reasonably-priced—wines. Voila, the perfect Valentine’s Day!
Just like I stay away from restaurants offering Valentine’s Day dinners, I stay away from the wines traditionally associated with Valentine’s. Yes, yes, I too love Champagne and drink it gladly. But, on this occasion, my rebellious spirits leads me rather to other sparkling wines: unknown, neglected, yet delicious. This year, I am choosing a rosé Cremant, a French sparkling made in the same method as Champagne but outside the Champagne region. Pink sparklers tend to have more body and structure and are excellent next to food, anything from light appetizers, to cheese and charcuterie, to creamy pasta and even fried foods.
After the bubbles have kicked off the celebration, I like to switch to a lush, smooth red, something that is gentle on the palate yet full of flavor. Here, too, I go to less-than-famous regions for inspiration. A red from the south of France, based on fruity Grenache and redolent of herbs and berries, is the perfect reminder of love, sunshine, and happiness. Whether I decide to cook risotto with winter vegetables or a salmon steak with herbs de Provence, the wine will be there to make it tastier.
And when it’s time for dessert, I reach for my all-time favorite: Moscato d’Asti. Light, aromatic, and bubbly, with a well-balanced sweetness but also refreshing, this wine is the perfect pairing for anything with chocolate. And what’s Valentine’s Day without chocolate? So, whether I get ambitious and whip up a flourless chocolate cake or simply roll some chocolate truffles, my Moscato will accompany them well, refreshing the palate and preparing it for the next bite of dessert.
And the best news? These wines are so affordable that even with three bottles you are still spending less than you pay for a dozen roses. This leaves plenty of room in the budget for those strappy shoes.
Want more wine know how for holidays like Valentine's Day? Join me at The Chopping Block for my upcoming wine class at Lincoln Square to learn how to make sense of French wine.