Whether I’m going out to dine on Valentine’s Day or staying at home for a private dinner, I always like to toast my lovely wife with a sip of something sexy and special. That doesn’t always translate into expensive, although it could. There are plenty of value libations to enjoy on Valentine’s Day—or any other time—as well as stratospherically priced ones. Here are some of my favorites.
I think the sparkling Cavas from Spain’s Codorniu winery are always good bargains, and I especially like these two offerings for Valentine’s Day. First, packaged in its nifty new all-white bottle, Anna de Codorniu Brut ($13.99) is an interesting bubbly made with 70 percent Chardonnay and 30 percent Parellada grapes. The name Anna is an homage to the last Codorniu heiress to bear the family name. The Codorniu winery, by the way, dates back to 1551; Anna de Codorniu lived in the 1600s. The aromas and flavors of this crisp, dry sparkler include apples, pineapple and pears, along with yeasty hints of baked brioche.
An even better fit for Valentine’s Day is Anna de Codorniu Brut Rosé ($13.99), made from 70 percent Pinot Noir and 30 percent Chardonnay. The pink bottle is a preview of what’s inside: strawberry-toned bubbly with cherry and strawberry flavors. It’s a light and fizzy party on the palate.
Made from the little-known Brachetto grapes of Italy, the pink sparkling wine called Banfi Rosa Regale ($22.48) has graced my Valentine’s table more than a few times through the years. It’s a luscious aperitif wine, and even more spectacular when served with chocolate. Imagine a fizzy, low-alcohol (7 percent) pink drink that tastes like raspberry coulis over chocolate truffles—like sex in a bottle.
Almost as seductive is Coppola Winery’s Sophia Sparkling Blanc de Blanc ($15.95). To me, this bubbly tastes like wedding cake in a bottle, with flavors of kiwi, strawberry and rose-infused marzipan.
If you’re looking for a wine to accompany a special Valentine’s Day meal, nothing is likely to make your honey swoon like a high quality white Burgundy from France. If money is no object, a wine like the 2011 Domaine Leflaive BÃ¢tard-Montrachet Grand Cru ($503) or 2006 Chevalier-Montrachet Grand Cru from Louis Jadot ($384) would knock your sweetheart’s socks off. Ditto a delicious bottle of Domaine Louis Latour Corton-Charlemagne 2006 ($125).
However, I’d probably splurge on fresh truffles for V-Day and opt for a more economical white Burgundy like the 2011 Domaine Louis Latour Montagny 1er Cru La Grande Roche ($23), or the splendid—but affordable—2010 Vincent Girardin 1er Cru Rully Les Cloux ($26).
For a less-than-obvious red wine choice, think out of the box with Concannon Vineyard Reserve 2010 Petite Sirah, Livermore Valley ($40). It’s from the makers of America’s first Petit Sirah, and its cherry, plum and mocha flavors might just start your love affair with Petite Sirah, if you haven’t already fallen for it.
For a wine that’s lighter and pairs with a wide variety of Valentine’s dishes, track down a bottle or two of 2012 Bucklin Rosé of Old Hill Ranch ($17). With beautiful orange-pink hues, it’s a blend of Grenache, Zinfandel, Mourvedre, Carignane and Syrah that will change the way you think about Rosé.
Or, you could go old-school for Cupid’s big day with a classic and elegant Champagne cocktail: Drop 3 drops of bitters onto 1 sugar cube and let the bitters soak in. Place the sugar cube in a Champagne flute. Add 1 ounce Cognac and top with 4 ounces chilled Champagne.