A Global Trio For Valentine's Day

Valentine’s Day is here and to help celebrate the day in style some delicious wine is in order. When organizing a special occasion or Holiday meal I like to plan for several wines for each stage of the day. Certainly if you’re going to spend Valentine’s Day with someone important in your life each part of that celebration should have a wine to go with it. So today I’m presenting a trio of wines that will make for delicious drinking on Valentine’s Day or any other time. It also doesn’t hurt that each of the wines I’m recommending are modestly priced compared to the value they offer. To start off with you’ll want a wine that’s appropriate to settle in to the day. Something light, yet substantial in flavor, which also pairs as easily with conversation as it does appetizers. My selection is the Graffigna Centenario 2009 Pinot Grigio. This Argentine wine was produced using fruit sourced in the Tulum Valley of San Juan. It’s composed of 100% Pinot Grigio and was fermented in stainless steel. The suggested retail price for this wine is $13.

Mango, citrus and vanilla aromas fill the nose of this Pinot Grigio along with underlying elements of spice. These themes continue through the palate along with apricot and tropical fruit characteristics. Spices kick into full gear with white pepper, nutmeg and vanilla bean amongst the most prominent. Around mid-palate sour tangerine notes emerge and continue through the finish which includes additional wisps of vanilla and peach flavors that linger. Excellent acidity keeps everything in check.

This is a very fresh and lively Pinot Grigio. I’ve found this wine to be consistently delicious over the last several vintages. For $13 (less if you shop around), this wine is an excellent value. It’s going to be a great way to get your Valentine’s Day celebration started.

The second wine you’re going to need is something to pair with the main part of your meal. On these occasions I look for something that will complement a wide array of foods. My tendency is also to look for something with a lush mouth-feel that lends itself to easy drinkability while also providing complexity. My selection this time out is the Campo Viejo 2005 Reserva. This wine is made from fruit sourced in the Rioja region of Spain. As is typical in Rioja this wine was produced primarily from Tempranillo (85%). The balance is made up of indigenous varietals Graciano (10%), and Mazuelo (5%). Barrel aging was accomplished over 18 months in a combination of French and American oak. This wine spent an additional 18 months in bottle prior to release. The suggested retail price for this wine is $14.

Cedar, cherry and wild strawberry lead the nose of this 2005 Reserva from Spain. Cherry continues through the palate along with vanilla, blackberry and hints of smoke. Black pepper notes emerge prominently and lead to the finish which is marked by copious amounts of sour cherry, tobacco, leather, spice box and emerging earth reference points. This wine has medium tannins and very well balanced acidity.

This Rioja is another excellent value and it hits the marks I’m looking for. It has sufficient complexity and will pair with many foods while going down smoothly. It’s wide availability also makes it an easy selection to reach for in a pinch.

The third wine I plan for on a special day is a closer of sorts. It can be a dessert wine but doesn’t have to be. Sparkling Wine could work as well. But it should be something that can pair with your dessert and that you’ll want to continue drinking when dessert is over.  The dessert wine that I recently tasted and was inspired to report on is the Jaboulet Muscat de Beaumes de Venise “Le Chant des Groilles” 2007. This offering is from the Rhone Valley and was produced using only Muscat grapes. Aging was accomplished in cask followed by time in bottle. The suggested retail price for this wine in 375 ml splits is $24.99.

White peach, lychee and mango lead the effusive nose of this wine. Apricots are the star of the palate which has a sweet, honeyed characteristic to it. This is joined by lots of tropical fruit that’s also got a layer of vanilla bean. It all leads to a lengthy finish marked by excellent spice. This wine is very well balanced and shows off good acidity.

The problem with many dessert wines is that they’re too sweet to drink very much of. This Muscat doesn’t have that issue. It’s quite sweet to be sure but the acidity provides excellent balance. Here is a wine you will be glad to drink quite a bit more than a few sips of. Pair it with a fruit tart topped with crème fraiche or a platter of fruits, nuts and soft cheeses. Either way you’ll be in for a treat.

This trio of wines is sure to make for a very satisfying day. Whether it’s Valentine’s Day or any other time.

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