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Valentines Day

Bubbles, Bubbles Everywhere – Sparkling Wines for Valentines

Louis Roederer Cristal

Louis Roederer Cristal

If you aren’t a connoisseur of fine Champagne, there’s no doubt you heard of Dom Perignon, Cristal, or Veuve Cliquot from a James Bond movie and rap video.  Indeed, there’s no shortage of expensive Champagne poured each and every February 14th. This Valentines Day men and women everywhere will spend a decent amount of money on good Champagne, often not knowing inexpensive options exist. I’m here to let you know you can pour some fantastic bubbly, and still delight you sweetheart.

When I was asked to visit the CBS12, WPEC studio this week to talk about wines for Valentines Day, I wanted to do something different. Immediately my mind went to Rose wines, something all too often over looked. Once I settled on the Think Pink for Valentines Day segment, I was asked to fill in for a second segment, and came up with three Sparkling wines under $20. I ran into my local Total Wine, with thousands of bottles to choose from, I knew I would find some great options.

Louis Bouillot Perle de Nuit Blanc de Noirs Brut

Louis Bouillot Perle de Nuit Blanc de Noirs Brut

First up was Louis Bouillot (Lou-ee Boo-yoh)  “Perle de Nuit” Blanc de Noirs Brut. Their “Pearl of the Night”, this dry sparkler, made in Burgundy, is a light, crisp and delightful wine. With beautiful bubbles, the palate is light pears and fresh dough, the finish is clean, with a great cherry component. Made of 90% Pinot Noir and 10% Gamay, in the traditional method, the Louis Bouillot Blanc de Noirs is aged 24 months, well past the legal requirement of 9 months. This is a great sipper, and I wouldn’t pair it with anything other than good company. I grabbed this at Total Wine for just $16, and it was well worth the price.

You may have watched Kara Kostanich ask on the CBS segment about wines being called “Champagne”. Sparklers not made in the Champagne region of France can not be called Champagnes. The appellation for the Louis Bouillot is Cremant de Bourgogne, which covers France’s Burgundy region and features dry sparkling wines. And while Champagne holds their wines to a high measure of quality, so does the Cremant de Bourgogne appellation.

Rondel Pura Raza Semi-Seco Cava

Rondel Pura Raza Semi-Seco Cava

From France, we jet over to Spain, where a blend of the three traditional Cava grapes; Xarel.lo, Macabeo & Parellada make their appearance. Cava is a Spanish sparkling wine made by the traditional Champagne method, and includes fermentation in steel tanks, then a secondary fermentation in the bottle, which gives it the bubbles we love so much. Another Total Wine selection, this $8 sparkler is great. The Rondel Brut Cava has been very highly rated by several magazines, however I selected the Semi-Seco, or sweeter, offering. I felt that for Valentines Day, you may want a slightly sweeter wine, one that is fun and easy to drink. With flavors of dried pineapple or pear, it’s a tad sweet, but not cloying. It’s crisp on the finish, and pairs perfectly with Strawberries.  If you’ve ever wanted to try Champagne and strawberries, I highly suggest trying it with the Rondel Pura Raza Semi-Seco Cava!

Our final Sparkling wine brings us back to Europe, Italy to be precise. It’s time to talk about Brachetto, a sparkling dessert wine from Italy. If your sweetheart is a fan of desserts, this bubbly will be sure to hit the spot. I selected the Sant-Orsola Brachetto D’Acqui, a delicious gem for about $16 at Total Wine! Brachetto is a red grape that is found mainly in Piedmont, the northwest region of Italy. The cherry cola red color is brilliant, and the palate of dry raspberry with a slightly sweet note is balanced with a very clean finish. The sweet berry flavors of the Sant-Orsola Brachetto D’Acqui makes it a natural pair for several desserts.

Sant'Orsola Brachetto D'Acqui

Sant'Orsola Brachetto D'Acqui

Pairing this wine with a chocolate cake, or even a piece or two of chocolates from that heart you always bring your beloved, works wonderfully. The chocolate enhances the fruit flavor, and the two  work well together. I brought a chocolate mousse tart to the CBS set, and it was a very nice pairing. I’d also happily serve the Brachetto with fruit, or alone. It’s a very nice sipper, with a fun, fruity flavor.

There are, of course, hundreds of other wine options for Valentines Day. If these Sparklers don’t tickle your fancy, and you aren’t adventureous enough to try the Rose Wines I recommended, leave a comment below and I’ll try to help you find just the right wine for your Valentine.  And, if you do use one of the QPR Wines (wines with Good Quality to Price Ratio) I mentioned this weekend, don’t be surprised if your sweetheart looks at you, slyly, having read this article, and wants a bigger present with the money on the wine!

Three Great Wines For your Valentines

Valentines Day Wine Selection

Valentines Day Wine Selection

Many guys will admit they’re not the best when it comes to figuring out what women want. Perhaps it’s because women are complex beings, requiring careful time and study, and men aren’t that patient. Or perhaps it’s because men are selfish, hedonistic animals who really only care about their own needs. To help my brethren out this Valentines Day, I’m going to offer three wine suggestions that will make it seem like they understand what their ladies want, all without investing too much time, or too much money. My theme for this year’s Valentines Day wine choices is “Think Pink”, great Rose wines, one a sexy sparkler, that wont break your bank!

Now, I must admit, I had a little help to select these wines. Robin, my better half, made no bones about loving the color pink. My first clue was “Can I paint the house pink”, followed by an onslaught of pink clothes and accessories showing up on her side of the room.  However, the real giveaway was our being at a Champagne event, and her gushing “Ohh, I love pink champagne.” Ding ding, clue number one just dropped, go pick it up boys. Now, Robin didn’t actually help me make the selections, but for some reason, I knew she’d love them. We started off with a Sparkling wine from South Africa, Graham Beck’s Brut Sparking Rose – NV, from Robertson SA. Retailing at only $14, this wine delivers nice quality at a great price.

Graham Beck Brut Rose NV valentines day wine 2

Graham Beck Brut Rose NV

This light and crisp bubbly had a very nice, pale pink hue in the glass. It’s made from 58% Chardonnay and 42% Pinot Noir grapes, in the Cap Classique method, where the wine undergoes a second fermentation in the bottle.  This is of course the same method used to make Champagne, the  méthode Champenoise, and is the term used in South Africa since 1992 to denote the traditional time-honoured method of making the sparkler.  Right out of the bottle, there were strawberry fruit flavors up front, with a finish of minerals that is refreshing in a Brut (dry) sparkler. There were tons of bubbles, and it was definitely the perfect way to start off our evening. Giving this bubbly a few minutes to open up is a nice idea, because the minerals and almost tart finish blows off, and you’re enjoying nice round red fruit that is well balanced and fun.  You can serve the Graham Beck Brute Rose NV bubbly with seafood, or even rare beef or lamb, and of course the traditional strawberries will be a smash hit!

Saint Andre de Figuiere 2008 Rose Magali Cuvee Valentines day wine

Saint Andre de Figuiere 2008 Rose Magali Cuvee

If bubbles aren’t your thing, lets hop from South Africa to Provence, France and enjoy a glass of Saint Andre de Figuiere 2008 Rose Magali Cuvee. That’s certainly a mouthful, especially if your French is as bad as mine! However, it’s worth butchering the name, or saying Saint ANdre Rose if you must, to enjoy this crisp Valentines Day wine. Half of the rose wine made in France comes from Provence, and at $16 this blend of Cinsault, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache is sure to delight. It’s salmon-pink color gives way to a bouquet of sweet, ripe raspberries. It has a soft palate, very light and crisp with fresh fruit of citrus and red berries, and some beautiful minerality on the finish. Dry and well balanced, this rose will go well with a host of foods, from chicken to fish, or just sipping with a nice cheese plate.

Big Fire Rose valentines day wine 3

Big Fire Rose Wine

Bubbles didn’t blow her away, and dry French wine not her thing, well then lets pop over to the United States, and try a Rose from Oregon! R Stuart & Co’s Big Fire line has a number of nice wines at good prices, and their $12 Big Fire Rose is no exception. A darker shade of pink than the previous two wines, the Big Fire Rose has some cherry scents on the nose, but it wasn’t a very fragrant bouquet. However, the palate was definitely bursting with fruit, strawberry up front, with a medium body that bursts with flavor. There’s definitely some red cherry and other bright fruit on the wine, and the fruit flavors last an incredibly long time.  The Big Fire Rose is a blend of Pinot Noir, Syrah, and Pinot Gris, each grape bringing it’s unique and interesting characteristic to the blend. Definitely a fruit forward wine, you could enjoy this with a lighter dish, whether it’s a salad, or some simple grilled chicken.

Let me know what wine you have on this Valentines Day, and how you enjoy it. If it’s one of the three discussed here, let me know how you like it. And Ladies, don’t be shy! If you want to be sure you enjoy the wine you drink on Valentines Day, select one of these and just tell him to open and pour like a good man should!  Cheers!

You can watch my appearance on CBS12 WPEC talking about these great wines with Daybreak News Anchor Kara Kostanich!