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Wine World

Fun wines for Valentine’s Day

While we brainstormed topics for this month, our film writer, Michael Snyder, commented that there had been precious few good romantic movies in the past four years, musing whether that was related to the outgoing presidential administration. Interesting thought, I mused in return. That first couple’s separate sleeping arrangements was widely reported, and the frequent hand swatting to avoid hand holding widely documented. 

So what a treat to see Jill and Joe Biden behaving as though they really like each other with their many PDAs from hand-holding, to back massaging, to hugs and kisses, their personal love story coming through our screens and into our homes. It was comforting and provided some much needed hope that it portended well for a return to more normalcy as a country.

With the Bidens as inspiration, go forth and make your Valentine’s Day fun and special. Sure it, may be somewhat challenging with some normal avenues of celebration unavailable, but we still have our imagination and creativity. And if you don’t have someone to share it with, celebrate anyway, and toast to all that’s good.

In the spirit of fun and celebration and hope, here are some wine suggestions for your Valentine’s Day: 

Besa Mi Vino California “Just Right White” and “All Day Rosé” NV, $40/six-pack

Canned wine has been gaining in popularity due in part to its convenience and durability — for one, it’s much easier (and lighter) to pack a few cans in your backpack for an outdoor event than it is a bottle. This award-winning “ethically responsible” wine is organic, vegan, gluten free, and sulfite sensitive. The crisp and dry rosé with berry notes is sure to please rosé fans, although I preferred the white, which is light and smooth, with a tad of fizz — both are just right for your Valentine’s Day picnic or hike.  

Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte Réserve Exclusive Rosé NV, $56

Consistently rated 90 points and above by critics and peers, this  blend of 45 percent Pinot Noir, 45 percent Meunier, and 10 percent Chardonnay is big on the bubbles and berry notes with a full mouth feel and dry finish. We enjoyed this Champagne on  a thrilling New Year’s Eve with a puzzle and Anderson Cooper, so that qualifies it as the perfect fun wine to share on any special occasion, especially Valentine’s Day due to its lovely pale pink hue. These bubbles are also available in splits for a more portable option.

Lush Wines ChocoVine NV, $10–$12

We’ve probably all been given that square of chocolate to taste with a red wine as the perfect complement — take a nibble of chocolate then a sip of wine, and it’s heavenly, right? So why not combine the two? ChocoVine has done just that with variations (raspberry, dark chocolate, and whipped cream) that combine French Cabernet and Dutch chocolate. These wines are clearly not for wine connoisseurs, but they’re fun, and yes, tasty without being too sweet. Not a fan of sweet beverages, I was well prepared to wince at these, but I didn’t — they taste like what they are, wine and chocolate. They go down very easily (I had consumed nearly an entire bottle before realizing it and required a nap), so sip with caution. All varieties have a heart on the label, and the raspberry checks the box for the right color. Serve it chilled as the perfect light dessert.  

Opaline Pinot Noir Brut Rosé, $8

Let’s be honest. We’ve all bought wine based on the bottle or the label, and we (some of us anyway) can remember that now-vintage Mateus Rosé with its antique-looking label, and we are all familiar with Italian Chianti in its straw-covered bottle. This light-on-the-bubbles sparkling  wine comes in an eye-catching, light-reflecting, faceted bottle and is a lovely pale salmon color, with a fruity, refreshing palate that is just dry enough and a price point attractive enough to stock up for the weekend.

Paradise Ridge 2014 Sparkling Shiraz, Russian River Valley, $52

This Santa Rosa winery burned to the ground in the 2017 Tubbs fire, with its surviving LOVE sculpture becoming an iconic symbol of hope amidst the widespread massive destruction wrought through the county. After a two-year reconstruction it reopened, only to close several months later due to the pandemic (wines can be ordered online for delivery or pickup, 707-528-9463, prwinery.com).

The winery makes a fun sparking shiraz, popular in Australia, and showing up more frequently stateside. The wine is a complex Syrah with a great pedigree from the Rockpile and Russian River AVAs, which is then put through a traditional Methode Champenoise process. The winemaker calls it “a party in a bottle,” and while I do prefer white and Rosé bubbles, I like this well enough, and wouldn’t hesitate to pop this cork for any celebration, especially Valentine’s Day.

Cheers — stay safe, and be kind.

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