It’s the time of year to show appreciation for the one you love. Your choice of wine, like your choice of gifts and choice of words, can help convey your message.
Remember that a bottle of wine contains four glasses — plenty for two people.
If you want to go big and go for name recognition, you can go to the most notable wine region in the United States, Napa Valley, which is bound to get the attention of the recipient of your affection. Napa is the most readily identifiable wine appellation in America and a great source of a number of wine varieties.
Possibly the best-known product of Napa is the coveted cabernet sauvignon. While a bit shy in the nose, Gamble Family Vineyards 2016 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon shows some strong berry flavors with a smooth texture and very gentle tannins, making it ready to drink. Combine that with a hint of spice and cocoa, and you have a solid Napa cab. You could find the 2015 iteration in Pennsylvania for $50. ★★★★
Cabernet may be king in Napa, but remember there are fantastic zinfandels, chardonnay, pinot noir, sauvignon blanc and bubbly from this wine destination as well. Lesser-known wines from Napa often excel because the producers are committed to the variety, so you can have your pick and the prestige.
No wine is sexier than sparkling rosé. For impressiveness (and quality), you can go to the source: Champagne, France. Champagne rosé will not be sweet — forget what you may think of pink wine. It will most likely be delicious, mouth-watering and food-friendly.
For a generous Champagne, try Champagne Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé, offering character of raspberry and biscuit. While a brut, which is typically dry, this wine seems to have a touch of sweetness that elevates the fruit, which is backed up by sturdy but reasonable acids. If you found some Champagne austere, you may want to toast with this one. $55. ★★★★ 1/2
There is a place in Beaujolais, France, called St. Amour that produces wine and surely benefits greatly from Valentine’s Day. Fortunately, the wines are usually very good from the cru villages of Beaujolais. The story of the town is tied to a tale about a Roman soldier who fell in love with a local woman, a legend worth Googling. Beaujolais is made from the gamay grape, a pinot noir relative. Both are eminently pairable with foods, making them an ideal choice for dining out when one orders chicken and the other orders beef. You can count on Beaujolais to be a great partner.
Domaine Pierre Marie Chermette Less Champs-Grilles 2017 St. Amour smells like Valentine’s Day, redolent of cranberry and lilacs with bright cherry flavors, a hint of leather and a brush of tannins with lovely acids. $32. ★★★★ 1/2
GRADE: Exceptional ★★★★★, Above average ★★★★, Good ★★★, Below average ★★, Poor ★.