Happy Valentine’s Day!

Happy Valentine’s Day! We have wine and food pairings ideas for you

Happy Valentine’s Day!  And what better gift for your Valentine than a special dinner with wine pairing(s). There are so many classic dishes that are fantastic when paired with wine. Might we suggest these to make your Valentine Day Special?

Appetizers – Nothing is better than Sparkling to start a meal. Terrific examples come from Ontario, Spain, Italy, and, of course, France.

Grilled Ribeye Steak – This flavourful cut was meant for a good Cabernet Sauvignon from California or Chile, but the Old World reds from Bordeaux, Spain (Rioja or Ribera del Duero), or Southern Tuscany (Brunello di Montalcino or Rosso di Montalcino) would be wonderful as well.

Chicken with Herbs – You could complement this with either a red or a white wine. If you prefer white, contrast with an unoaked Chardonnay that has a fresh fruitiness or, if red is your thing, try a medium bodied Carmenère from Chile that has an herbal note to complement this dish.

Pork Prepared with Mushroom Mustard Cream – This was made to match with a red that has lighter tannins, along with spice and earthiness. Pinot Noirs from Ontario, Burgundy, Oregon, and certain cooler parts of California (for example, Russian River Valley, Sonoma Coast, or Carneros) exemplify that style.

Ceviche – You need a lighter wine that doesn’t overpower the delicate flavours, but ideally with a little citrus as well. Try it with a Sauvignon Blanc from Chile, an Albariño from Spain, or an Ontario Riesling. Don’t be afraid to try a dry Rosé either.

Cassoulet with Duck Confit and Sausage – Duck, sausage, and beans are robust flavours and need an equally vigorous wine. The perfect pairing would be a red wine from the Southern Rhone (consider Cotes du Rhone, Vacqueyras, Gigondas, Chateauneuf du Pape) or from Costieres de Nimes in France’s Languedoc.

Pizza or Pasta with Tomato Sauce – Red wines with moderate tannins and equally moderate, or no, oak are best since high tannins clash with tomato. Chianti falls in this realm as do Valpolicella and Barbera from Italy as well as Gamay from Ontario.

Risotto – The creaminess of the starch calls for a white with good acidity to cut the richness. A Gavi from Piedmont in Italy would be superb, but a Pinot Blanc from France (or its cousin known as Pinot Bianco in Italy) or a dry Chenin Blanc from South Africa would be splendid as well.

My ratings are based on a 5 star system developed by Michael Broadbent: 5 stars: Outstanding; 4 stars: Very good; 3 stars: Good; 2 stars: Moderately good; 1 star: Not very good, but not bad; No stars: Poor.

Paco & Lola Albariño 2021 ★★★½+ $18.95 (Vintages)
Albariño, a grape from the Rias Baixas region in Spain, makes a truly lovely white that deserves more awareness. The wine is a dry, fruity delight steeped in pineapple, stone fruits, lemon and intense minerals with a longish finish. Pairing it with seafood or salads would be brilliant, but it’s also great by itself.

Miguel Torres Ándica Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2021 ★★★★ $16.95 (Vintages)
Produced organically, this wine exemplifies Sauvignon Blanc’s gooseberry fruit fused with lemon, lime, grapefruit, and fresh cut hay. It strikes a nice balance – not as rich in fruit as the New Zealand version, but less austere than the French. Pesto pastas or seafood would go well with this fresh white.

Santa Margherita Brut Sparkling Rosé NV ★★★½ $19.95 (Vintages)
A very good Italian Sparkling made in the Prosecco style vinified mostly from Chardonnay and Glera with just a splash of Malbec that renders it pale pink. Nice berry flavours in the glass tempered with lemon, apple, and a toasty, grapefruit peel finish. It’s a lighter bodied fizz that would do well with appetizers and seafood, or as an aperitif.

Pérez Cruz Limited Edition Carmenère 2020 ★★★½+ $19.95 (Vintages)
Carmenère is becoming a signature grape for Chile that has the perfect climate to guarantee it ripens well. It makes a full bodied, moderately tannic wine filled with dark fruits and blueberry jam that always has an herbal edge of sage, rosemary, and thyme to make it interesting. Steaks, herbed chicken, or stews would complement it nicely.

Knappstein Clare Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2019 ★★★★+ $19.95 (Vintages)
Here’s another excellent wine from Knappstein to go with their Shiraz that was reviewed recently. Pure Cabernet fruit displaying cassis, blackberry, and black cherry is united with tobacco, mint, sage leaf, leather, burnt sugar, smoke, and just the proper touch of vanilla. It also reveals typically high tannins and acidity that are best calmed with steak frites, mushroom ragu, or pork roulade.

Linajes 12 Ribera del Duero Tempranillo Crianza 2017 ★★★★ $19.95 (Vintages)
Ribera del Duero wines are often blends, but this one is 100% Tempranillo. They are also typically a little bigger wines than Riojas and this is no exception. It’s positively overflowing with black fruits and vanilla interwoven with cedar, menthol, and baked caramel. The tannins are big as well; so, decanting is in order. After it gets some air, match it up it with beef or pork roasts.

Therianthropy Ruby Woolf Pinot Noir 2021 ★★★½+ $29.95 (Winery, Online)
Now this is a seriously well made wine from a small artisanal winery located in Creemore. They source the fruit from the St. David’s Bench in Niagara and then ferment with 50% whole clusters. Subsequently, the wine is rested on the lees for 7 months, followed by bottling without filtration or fining. The result is a dry, Burgundian style with attractively concentrated sour cherries, cranberry, pomegranate, cinnamon, and earth. Serve it with mushroom risotto or bloomy rind cheeses.

Valcatrina by Santos Lima 2020 ★★★½+ $15.95 (Vintages)
Portugal produces some superb values and this is one of them. Deeply coloured, it’s packed with blackberry, black currant jam, vanilla, and mocha. It’s very good, but also a bit wild, clocking in at 14.5% alcohol, which means it needs “go big or go home” foods to bring out its best. Ribs awash with BBQ sauce or burgers loaded with all the usual suspects, including bacon and cheddar, would tame it.