Planning Ahead: Suggestions For Romantic Sipping



Romantic wine suggestions for Valentine’s Day.


By Louis Marmon


Gazette Newspapers  January 27, 2010


Palazzo Montanari AmaroneIndulge your beloved by sharing a bottle of wine or other fine libation on Valentine’s Day. California’s full-bodied Terra Valentine Spring Mountain Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 ($38), with richly spiced dark currant and blackberry flavors that finish with cedar, chocolate and caramel, is an excellent choice. Or, sip the more hedonistic, highly regarded Mollydooker Carnival of Love McLaren Vale Shiraz 2007 ($90), with big mouth-filling blueberry, exotic spice and dark plum flavors that seem to linger forever.


Sparkling wines are synonymous with romance, especially the elegant J Vineyards Brut Rose NV ($30). Its apple and strawberry aromas lead into bright citrus, raspberry and cherry notes. Don’t let the North Carolina origin of the Chardonnay grapes used to create the Biltmore Estate Blanc de Blanc NV ($25) keep you from trying this delightful sparkler; it exhibits a distinct nuttiness along with citrus and tropical fruit flavors. For something even more unusual, try some sparkling wines from Georgia, the country near the Black Sea where they have made wine for centuries from indigenous grapes like Chinuri, Tsitska and Saperavin. The Bagratoni Reserve Brut NV ($25) is very tasty, with lemon, apple and pear flavors and a hint of almonds.


Sometimes nothing is more romantic than what is left unsaid. A true “wine of contemplation” is the Amarone della Valpolicella. Made in Italy’s Veneto region from grapes that are partially dried to concentrate their flavors and sugar content, Amarone is big, round and powerfully fruity with a distinctive raisin character, often accompanied by a hint of sweetness. Perfect with rich meals and cheeses, it is also wonderful with dark chocolate while snuggling by a fire. The Palazzo Montanari Amarone della Valpolicella DOC Classico 2001 ($60) is gorgeous, with heady aromas of chocolate and dried fruit that combine beautifully with lush, deep red berry, cherry, anise and leather notes.


For something a bit different, consider the Johnnie Walker Blended Scotch Whiskies. As explained by one Master of Whisky, the blends are meant to “express the essence of well-aged single malts in a more complex and intense fashion.” The goal is for each blend to have a consistent distinctiveness and layer of flavors. The result is that the Johnnie Walker Green Label has a definite earthiness that would be perfect with a steak dinner. The Johnnie Walker Gold Label should be stored in the freezer and served cold as an accompaniment to a warm chocolate cake. The vanilla and honey flavors of the premium Johnnie Walker Blue Label make it a perfect way to end an evening.


Another sipping option is the creation of Jim Koch and his team at the Boston Brewing Company, who have pushed the envelope of creativity to produce the limited-edition Sam Adams Utopias. Non-carbonated, with a 25 percent alcohol content and a flavor profile reminiscent of a Bual Madeira, Utopia is released every other year in individually numbered, copper covered brew kettle decanters. Made from all four Noble hops, several types of malt and with special yeasts, this delicious rich, dark slightly sweet indulgence is an after-dinner treat, perhaps while watching a wine-related movie such as “From Ground to Glass,” Rob DaFoe’s film that chronicles his first attempt at making shiraz intermixed with breathtaking scenery and interviews with winemakers who describe their own love affair with wine.



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