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Valentine's Day and Wine

It's the time of year when our thoughts turn to romance - over the table and in the bottle. Inevitably the question arises, what would pair best with chocolate? I hesitate, as many of our chocolate delights are more to milk chocolate than solid bittersweet or darker chocolates. If we can balance the sweet with good acidity or bitterness (perhaps even serving espresso!)then the chocolate pairings become much more varied. In wine too, we must drop the acidity levels just as we are raising the chocolate levels; eventually a true meeting in the middle serves us best!

For a nice romantic dinner at home or out, remember that subtlety and nuance help peak our sensual side in all things taste, smell, and memory. Sexy wines are those that bring people together, not divide to provide private experiences. Full throttle Cabernets, over the top Shiraz, or mega-malo chardonnay may be tasty but limit our ability to sense other pleasures, say great food or company. Pinot Noir from many regions of the world can deliver soft, rich depth of flavors while lingering delicately enough for all wine afficianados to enjoy; I've often found that a smoky, mysterious Grenache can be equally satisfying. These wines can seamlessly move from seafood and steaks to salads and vegetarian cuisine - and romantic cuisine is best shared in tantalizing doses! As my partner loves Sushi, Thai, and Chinese out of the box in bed - I have a great appreciation for German Riesling with their low alcohol, high acidity and floral notes - who wouldn't want flowers on Valentine's??

Argentinian Malbec is all the buzz right now, and soft candlelight really brings out the deep colors, rich fruit and lush off-cocoa flavors - this is the one that can transition from dinner to chocolate! With a higher percentage cocoa(darker) chocolate, even less aggressive shiraz or Italian Valpolicella/Ripasso wines can be quite enjoyable. Truthfully, a great wine store would have Brachetto (a sweet sparkler from Italy that tastes of strawberries and chocolate) - that's the real answer! My pick of the Valentine's Wines lies in a unique find from Uruguay: Alcyone tannat dessert wine that actually breathes chocolate covered cherries in a blender ($30)!! Good loving and Enjoy the day!!