This Valentine’s Day Try Something Crisp, Pink or Bubbly

This article originally appeared, in part, in the February, 2019 issue of Bellingham Alive Magazine

Eschew the traditional – and sometimes disastrous – Valentine’s combination of red wine and chocolate, where the high sugar level and fat content of this much-loved confection can often overwhelm the flavors of the wine.

nullThis year, toss the truffles and try something completely different. Whites, rosés, and sparklers are not only crisper, lighter, and more “fun-in-the-glass” wine choices, they’re often much more affordable than a big, overly bold Cabernet Sauvignon. That makes them a great alternative for those looking to give or serve wines for either sipping on their own or as part of a Valentine’s Day dinner.

Start off the occasion with bubbles in your glass to add a festive touch and put everyone in a celebratory frame of mind. McMinnville Oregon’s J Wrigley Vineyards Jubilation (about $24) is a coral hued, 100-percent sparkling Pinot Noir selection that comes in a throwback, crown-capped bottle. Fresh red berry and cherry flavors are followed by earthy/slate-like undertones and a zingy, citrusy finish.

Northeast Italy’s Carpenè Malvolti also offers plenty of sparkling wine options including the 1868 Extra Dry Prosecco Superiore (about $19). It displays aromas of yeasty, fresh-baked bread, flavors of green pear and Fuji apple, and a linen-crisp finish that make the wine a natural to pair with fresh shellfish.

And for bubbles in a pretty, pink shade, the Carpenè Malvolti Cuvée Brut (about $20) is practically unbeatable. This Italian sparkler explodes with red cherry and berry aromatics, and the fruity quality of the bouquet carries over to the palate with a lingering finish that’s both bright and creamy.

nullAnother pink option from Italy is the Frescobaldi 2017 Alìe (about $25), a stunning rosé made primarily from Syrah grapes and packaged in an eye-catching, oversized bottle. Lovely floral aromas lead off, with layers of red berries, stone fruit, ruby red grapefruit, and lingering notes of minerality on the finish. It’s versatile enough to serve with either light appetizers or an entrée of poached salmon or halibut.

Husband and wife Kyle and Cassie Welch of Longship Cellars are doing an amazing job at their Richland, Washington winery and the 2017 Steel Dragon Riesling (about $17) is a great example of the quality wines they’re producing. Generous white peach and green apple flavors, steely minerality, and the perfect balance of gentle sweetness and laser-sharp acidity sum up this amazing wine. Try it with spicy Asian cuisine or seared Ahi tuna. Another must-try current release – this one for Rosé lovers – is Longship’s 2017 Wild Harvest Rosé (about $17), made entirely from Syrah grapes.

Uruguay may seem an unlikely source for wines, but this South American country is turning heads with a broad range of affordable choices that rival those from more popular wine regions in Argentina and Chile.

The vineyards of Uruguay’s Bodega Garzón benefit from the cooling influences of the nearby Atlantic Ocean, resulting in oftentimes higher-in-acidity wines that are crisp, lively, and a pleasure to taste.

Start with the winery’s 2017 Albariño (about $22), a tasty white wine with herbal and citrus aromas and a nice balance of lush nectarine for openers and brisk, lemon verbena flavors that really shine through on the finish. Another terrific dry-white option is the 2017 Sauvignon Blanc (about $22). Lean, vibrant, and highlighted with lemongrass and mouth-watering citrus fruit, it provides a nice contrast to pasta and cream-based sauces, and also works well as a complement to clams, mussels, or oysters on the half-shell.

nullAlso notable is the Bodega Garzón 2018 Rosé of Pinot Noir (about $22). The wine’s bouquet of wild strawberries combines with a splash of honeydew melon and cantaloupe flavors. A playful kiss of faintly sweet cotton candy on the finish makes it a perfect choice to taste on Valentine’s Day.

Then for or something completely different, consider the Taylor Fladgate Chip Dry White Port (about $20) from Portugal’s Douro Valley. The “dry” feature of this unique wine is that the gentle, finishing note of sweetness is much less pronounced than what you might find on other Ports. Wonderfully complex layers of walnut, hazelnut, and dried apricot are prevalent throughout, and a lengthy finish gives it a rich quality worth savoring.

And don’t forget that the versatility of these wines extends well beyond February. With a higher acid content and dry or off-dry finish, they make great seafood-pairing wines during the spring and summer months as well. Be sure to keep them on hand for brunches, picnics, or to serve at soon-to-come warmer-weather outdoor gatherings.

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