SOMM FILE: V-Day Wines

Valentine Day Wines

From my years in the restaurant business, I have come to despise ‘amateur night’. For this reason, I hate Valentine’s Day. Couples who rarely dine out feel obligated to go out this one particular special night of the year. Deuce after deuce of chicken entreés, cheap wine and forced conversations is the norm.

My recommendation for serious diners considering a Valentine’s Dinner on the town: avoid it like the plague. You aren’t going to receive the same service or attention that you would any other night of the year, so why do it? Instead, light some candles, pop a bottle (or three) of vino and cook dinner at the casa for your lady of the evening. Think about it…it’s cheaper, more romantic and you have total privacy for impromptu lovemakin’ sessions throughout the evening. 

Once you commit to an evening in, all that’s left to do is find a recipe and ensure you have lots of wine at your disposal. When it comes to the wine, here are a few recommendations we’re especially loving at our Thunderdome (aka the Wine Awesomeness headquarters).

Kriter, Brut Rosé, France, NV

Pink Bubbles…‘nuff said. Your lady is going to freak, and the reality of it is, rosés are just wines made from red grapes with a short maceration period that imparts color, flavor and deliciousness. Yes please!

The opulent nose of fresh strawberries, wild raspberries, pie crust, cardamom and acacia prove to be the perfect intro to a giving but structured palate. An incredibly soft, luscious mousse gives way to a steely finish redolent of pomegranate and pink peppercorn. Technically speaking, this sparkling wine is straight up yummy! We recommend having a second bottle in tow.

Five Corners, Pinot Gris, Oregon, 2009

When it comes to domestic wine, nobody does better and with more class than Oregon.  Don’t get us wrong, there are amazing producers in other states, but if forced to choose which one has the overall highest quality of juice, the answer is simple: Oregon. Most of the Oregonian properties are on the small side and by California standards, are miniscule.  Wineries producing under 10,000 cases are the norm, while the factory wineries of California literally do not exist.  A simple generalization is that smaller estates equates to more TLC, which equates to better juice, which equates to the higher consumption of Oregon wine at the Thunderdome.

The only hurdle in this equation is that the price points tend to not be particularly friendly, especially with their golden greyhound, Pinot Noir. That’s where the highly underrated Pinot Gris steps into the limelight. Oregon’s second most popular varietal doesn’t have the same demand and as with most white wines, is a bit cheaper to produce than its counterpart reds. This is a super intriguing example of type with a classic full-bodied, unctuous palate replete with tropical fruit notes of pineapple, guava, banana and lychee rounded out by jasmine, honeysuckle and yellow curry.  If you are feeling frisky with your hand at Asian fare and whipping up some of your famous Pad Woon Sen, this needs to be your juice.

Martinshof, Zweigelt, Austria, 2011

Zweigelt seems to keep appearing in the Wine Awesomeness headquarters, and it doesn’t seem to be accidental at this point.  One of Austria’s most heralded indigenous grapes, Zweigelt, is on the up and up for the American public and for good reason.  The quality-to-price ratio (QPR) exists in spades with this varietal. I have yet to have a Zweigelt I didn’t like, and the Martinshof version is particularly impressive.  Medium-bodied with ripe raspberry, strawberry and pomegranate notes, the Martinshof Zweigelt delivers a bright, fresh style of vino.  Secondary notes of violets, lilac and sweet spice round out this easy drinking yet complex red.

This is the wine that you want as your house juice because of its versatility. Plus, it comes in liter form so you can indulge in that extra glass because the holidays/winter/life is all about indulgence, right?