Friday, February 10, 2017

Wines for Valentine’s Day

By Liza B. Zimmerman

One of the biggest, and most commercial, holidays is just around the corner. Whether you are single or happily engaged in a relationship you will want to have some wine on hand for the occasion.

Bubbles are a classic. Everything from Prosecco to Champagne is always festive and perfect for the occasion. A little something red and bubbly, like a Lambrusco or a sparkling Shiraz from Down Under, would also be fun alternatives.

Jill Zimorski, the former wine director at Chicago’s Alinea restaurant, says that she always loves “Particularly Rose. It's great with everything but there's no denying it's a wine of occasion and the sound of a bottle of champagne being opened is one of the sexiest sounds ever.”

She prefers the classic over “obvious choices like Beaujolais St. Amour or Chateau Calon-Segur with the heart on the label.” I agree but think the Beaujolais Crus are pretty delicious to share with wide range of foods on Valentine’s Day or pretty much any other day of the year.

Big Reds for the Evening
Big, heady reds are always sensual for this day of the year. I find Rhone Syrahs to be some of the sexiest choices out there. The same could be said of the Syrahs from Eastern Washington and the Columbia Valley.

“I think a lot about aroma, so wines with really great, distinctive aromatics are super romantic/sexy to me--really good Barolo with age...where it's all truffley and heady...Brachetto, sweet or dry versions that straight smell like roses, but not in the cloying way that Gewurtztraminer sometimes does,” adds Zimorski about her favorite picks.

The earthy, dark-fruit driven wines of the Loire and the salt-of-the-earth Barberas of Piedmonte are always delicious. They are great pairings to open up a meal with slices of prosciutto or some mushroom-filled puff pastry snacks.

South African blends are also some of my favorites. They can combine tantalizing notes of earth, berries and cassis. While we are over in Africa Morocco is also making better and better wines, some of which feature my beloved Syrah.

End it Off Sweet
You may want a vino da meditazione, what the Italians call a wine to ponder to finish the evening. Marsala and Madeira, from Southern Italy and Portugal respectively, are two of my favorites. Their caramel notes seem to go on forever as the wine slides down your throat.

Passito di Pantelleria, another Southern Italian pick, is also a gem. There’s also always Port for a classic nightcap.

Cheers from all of us at DrinkUpNY!

Liza B. Zimmerman has been writing and consulting about wine and food for two decades. She is principal of the San Francisco-based Liza the Wine Chick wine writing, education and consulting firm. She has worked on staff and freelance at national magazines such as Wine Enthusiast, The Magazine of La Cucina Italiana, Wine Spectator, Where SF and the Examiner. She currently contributes to Cheers, Wine Business Monthly and the Examiner, among others.

Zimmerman focuses on demystifying wine and transforming it into a tool for business and networking for companies all over the country. Past clients include Genentech, Roche and IBM.

She has visited all the world’s major wine regions and is one of select few in the U.S. to hold the Diploma of Wine & Spirits (D.W.S.), the three-year precursor to the Master of Wine.

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