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Two Women on Wine: Time to share love and wine

Reds and Champagne are perfect for celebrating with your special Valentine

Posted: February 11, 2010 3:11 p.m.
Updated: February 12, 2010 6:00 a.m.

Lil Lepore and Shari Frazier

 
It's a few days until Valentine's Day and you're at a loss for what to give your sweetheart.

Well, don't panic. Help is on its way.

Advertisements are quick to tell us that the traditional choices are flowers or chocolate. Why not consider celebrating the most romantic day of the year with wine? Choosing a wine for Valentine's Day shouldn't be different from any other special occasion. As you might imagine, we have a few suggestions.

Champagne or sparkling wine, the ultimate celebratory beverage, would be at the top of our list. There is nothing more romantic than French Champagne; the beauty of the bottle and, of course, the wonderful sound of the cork popping is sure to delight.
Choosing Champagne doesn't have to be complicated or intimidating. As with all wine it comes down to a matter of taste.

Champagne can be classified in terms of its color and its sweetness.

Rosé Champagne is the most popular choice for romantic occasions. It is usually made from a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Rich in flavor and full in body, this would be our choice to start the evening.

Another type of Champagne is called "Blanc de Blancs." It is made entirely from the Chardonnay grape and is lighter in color and body.

When choosing Champagnes you might want to consider the sweetness of various types. They range from bone dry to very sweet. Brut is the driest and most popular.

Another suggestion would be a wonderful Italian Brachetto or a Malvasia Rosé. Both wines exhibit soft sweetness and lots of bubbles, and are delicious, fun and easy to drink.

Since red is the color of Valentine's, it is also the color choice of wine for this holiday.

Nothing beats a light-bodied, soft, aromatic Pinot Noir. This wine screams sensuality. Its feminine, youthful, lively and earthy characteristics, along with aromas and flavors of red and black fruits makes this varietal one of our favorites.

Other varietals we recommend include Syrah/Shiraz, Zinfandel, or a Petite Sirah. These wines are typically fuller in body and flavor.
Same grape but two different names: Syrah and Shiraz. (Australians and South Africans call this grape Shiraz.) It is typically full-bodied, spicy, even sometimes peppery, with rich blackberry flavors. This grape hails from the Rhone Valley in France and is often used as a blending grape in a Bordeaux blend and Rhone blend. It's most notable blending use is in the production of Chateauneuf-du-Pape, the pride of the Rhone.

Zinfandel has a confusing and mysterious history. There is much debate about the origins of this grape, with its close cousin in Italy, Primitivo. The highly speculative story behind its name, identity and trans-Atlantic crossing to America and its final journey to California makes for an interesting "spicy" tale that Hollywood loves.

Zinfandel is sometimes coined "America's Wine" and is the most frequently planted grape in California. That is because this grape has no significant presence anywhere else in the world, with the exception of Italy. When we think of Zinfandel we think of different characteristics from zesty, spicy, sharp tannins to soft, supple, plumy, fruit-bombs. "Zin," as it is fondly referred to, is definitely a grape that is full of life to be enjoyed with a variety of dishes.

Another varietal that is close to our hearts is Petite Sirah (spelled with an "i" instead of a "y"). This unique grape is not to be confused with Syrah. Although closely related to Syrah, it does not mean "little syrah." This grape's birthplace is the south of France and is a cross between the noble Syrah and another Rhone varietal called Durif. It has adapted very well to the drier climates of California and is now widely produced in areas like Paso Robles, Sonoma County, Mendocino, and Napa Valley.

Petite Sirah is a medium-bodied, inky-dark wine with lots of fruit; it is sometimes spicy and has nice tannins. Because of these characteristics, Petite Sirah is most often chosen to be blended with Zinfandel to add body and complexity to tone down the "jammyness" of Zins.

So whether you are planning an intimate dinner or cozying up with your sweetheart in front of a warm fireplace, you might want to think about the wine that you will both enjoy. Oh, and don't forget the flowers and chocolate!

Happy Valentine's Day! Cheers!

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