When deciding what to drink with your spouse or significant other on Valentine’s Day, the choice is easy: pinot noir. Your only decision is deciding what expression of the most sensual grape you are going to choose.
Rosé Champagnes are pretty wines linked to romance. Veuve Clicquot invented rosé (the French word for pink) Champagne in 1777, but now every major producer in Champagne offers a rosé, and you pay dearly for that pretty pink color. However, when seduction is the goal, price may not be a significant consideration.
Rosé Champagnes are usually produced by the saignée method, that is, macerating the juice of the pinot noir grape with its skins. Less often, red pinot noir wine is added to a base wine. The advantage of rosé Champagne is that it can be drunk before a meal and throughout a meal. Its added structure compared to other Champagnes allows it to be ideally paired with everything that swims in the seas, walks on land, or has wings.
Some recommended French Champagne producers are Billecart-Salmon, Charles Heidsieck, Taittinger, Veuve Clicquot, Delamotte, Dom Ruinart, Laurent-Perrier, and Perrier Jouet. There are a number of fine California sparkling rosés produced by methodé champenoise including those by Schramsberg, Mumm, Roederer Estate, Gloria Ferrer, Soter, and Argyle. Hi-Time Wine Cellars in Costa Mesa has one of the county’s most extensive selections of sparkling wines and Champagnes.
Rosé still wines made from pinot noir, also known as vin gris, are also en vogue, especially the French versions from Sancerre and stateside versions from California and Oregon. These are best chilled, offering fresh, clean flavors of strawberries, cherries, citrus, and herbs. Look for the sexy packaged 2013 J Vineyards Russian River Valley Vin Gris ($17) at Total Wine & More stores.
Regular still pinot noir is always a good option as well. My experience has been that pinot noir is women’s favorite red wine, and second only to chardonnay among all wines in popularity. Perhaps this is because pinot noir is not only what women want to drink, it is what they want to be: flirty, beguiling, sexy, and mysterious. The perfect French pinot noir to drink on Valentine’s Day is Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru “Les Amoureuses,” (French for the lovers). Look to Wine Searcher to locate a bottle.
The smells of pinot noir can open the door to lust and desire. Canadian writer Konrad Ejbich claims to look for places where he “can drink it (pinot noir) with one hand under the table,” and says, “It is the color of ruby lips, smells like great sex, and tastes like the ripest strawberries, raspberries, and black cherries all at once.”