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Valentine’s Day is a special day to celebrate love.  It’s a day to say, “thank you” and “I love you” to that special person in your life.  At the top of the list are the flowers, the cards, and the dinner dates. But don’t forget the wine! All of the romantic fanfare is the perfect setting to celebrate the marriage of delicious food paired with wonderful wines. Luckily, there are many classic and sexy food and wine pairings that go perfectly together to both start and end your Valentine’s Day.

Start with some Champagne.  Nothing sets the mood better than the soft sigh of a carefully opened bottle.  You can also open it with a loud pop if you prefer. Either way this bubbly wine is the official celebratory libation.  There is something about Champagne that makes it perfect for romance. The liveliness of the bubbles racing to the top of the glass invigorates the senses and the aromas of toasted brioche warm the heart.  Yes, Champagne is fantastic on its own, but try it with an array of cold seafood. Champagne and oysters are a very classic pairing. Pol Roger white label and Agrapart & Fils “Venus” are two great bottles to try with your favorite east or west coast oysters. Both Champagnes are lean and racy with orchard fruit and white stone.  The sweet and saltiness of the oyster is complemented by these fresh styles which are always fun to slurp and sip together. If raw seafood is not for you don’t worry. Shrimp cocktail and cold lobster are also very welcoming to this sparkling delight. With a firmer texture than raw oysters, shrimp and lobster can use a slightly heavier Champagne.   Bollinger Brut Rose and Krug Grand Cuvee are prestige Champagnes with richness and texture that go well with both shellfish.

At the end of the night, chocolate takes center stage.  Rich cakes and little confections made from chocolate pair well with wine too.  A classic pairing is ruby port and chocolate. Ruby Port is a fortified wine that comes from Portugal and has dense dark berry and plum flavor and aromas.  These wines have a sweetness to them and a full body and rich texture on the palate. These attributes make it the perfect pairing for the richer and heavier chocolate desserts.  Fortified wines are made with the addition of a distilled spirit and start at 18% alcohol by volume, so they are more potent than regular wines. Niepoort and Graham’s are historic houses that make benchmark styles.

A lighter and fresher wine to go with chocolate and berry desserts comes from northern Italy.  It’s called Brachetto d’Acqui and it is produced in Piemonte. This is a lightly sparkling wine with ripe strawberry and raspberry aromas.  Giacomo Bologna makes one of the best examples of brachetto which adds a pop of fruit and freshness when paired with chocolate. Well-known producer Castello Banfi makes version called Rose Regale as well.

Just because it’s still cold on February 14 doesn’t mean you can’t turn up the heat with some classic and sexy food and wine pairings.  Valentine’s Day is the day to show that you really are with thoughtful wine and food pairings. Cheers!

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