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Toast your Valentine with an appropriate wine

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John Brown John Brown
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John Brown is president of Brown Communications in Charleston. He writes about wine each month for The State Journal.

What could be more appropriate than presenting your special Valentine with a gift of wine?  

Okay, so you could procure jewelry, flowers or candy for your significant other, but adding a bottle of wine is the romantic topping to the day and such a tasteful (as well as tasty) Valentine gift. And, of course, you'll probably get to share the enjoyment of the wine with your Valentine. 

Before I list my favorite Valentine's Day wines, it might be helpful to provide you with a little history on how we came to celebrate this lovely day. It appears that there is no hard documentation and the story seems to be a bit loosey-goosey, but here is what is known.

During the reign of the pagan Roman Empire, a Christian priest named Valentinus (a.k.a. Valentine of Rome) was arrested for performing marriages for those who shared his banned religion. Valentinus also performed marriages for Roman soldiers who were not permitted to take a wife. For these romantic, but unlawful ceremonies, he was jailed by the emperor Claudius, whom he then tried to convert to Christianity. 

Unfortunately for the priest, Claudius had Valentinus executed for his romantic, but unpagan-like, activities. The priest later achieved sainthood and the date of his martyrdom — February 14 — morphed into Valentine's Day. The rest — as they say — is history.

So whether you celebrate the day with a nice dinner at home or dine in a fancy restaurant, you will want to toast your Valentine with the romance-enhancing elixir we know as wine. And, since the traditional valentine colors are red and pink, I will recommend for your consideration a bevy of wines showcasing those colors.

Since sparkling wine or Champagne is most often used as a celebratory beverage, here are two wines with a red hue to make your day even more effervescent:

 

  • Banfi Rosa Regale Brachetto  ($20) — This Italian sweet red sparkler is chock full of raspberry and black cherry flavors and would make an equally good aperitif or dessert wine. Rosa Regale is especially good with chocolate desserts.
  • Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Noirs ($22) — This Sonoma County wine is produced using the Champagne method. Made from pinot noir, this blush colored sparkler is richly textured with a hint of brioche underneath the ripe berry flavors. The wine is round but dry on the finish and would make a good match to smoked salmon. 
  • You might also celebrate with a rose. Try the very delicate strawberry–like flavors of the 2013 Moulin de Gassac Guilhem Rose ($13). This pale pink rose, produced in the Languedoc region of southern France, finishes dry and would be a perfect match to brunch-type dishes such as an omelet with swiss cheese and spinach.
  • Want a rose with a little more stuffing and depth? The 2012 Mulderbosch Rose of Cabernet Sauvignon ($12) is a very full-bodied South African wine and would work very well as an accompaniment to lighter-styled meat dishes such as Chicken Coq au Vin.
  • For your red wine Valentine, you might try the 2010 Alto Moncayo Veraton ($27) from Spain. This old vine grenache is rich, ripe, round and full-bodied. Flavors of black raspberries and spicy tea with just a hint of vanilla make this a superb accompaniment to beef dishes such as roast prime rib.
  • For dessert, I would treat my Valentine to the decadently rich and sweet 2010 Susana Balbo Late Harvest Malbec ($30). I paired this purple wine with a dark chocolate truffle from West Virginia's own Holls Chocolates and experienced the perfect food and wine combination. Taste the wine first and then the chocolate. Then, sip the wine again and experience how the combination of flavors produces an exquisite harmony of tastes.

 

Happy Valentine's Day.