With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, it’s time to start planning your date night. Maybe you’re showing off your culinary skills and whipping up a 3-course meal for two at home and wondering what wine would best complement your cooking. Or perhaps you’re dining out and want to impress your date by choosing an excellent wine to go with dinner. No matter what your plans are, we’ve rounded up some classic Valentine’s Day food and wine pairings, plus a few useful tips to help steer you in the right direction.
Pairing With The Classics
Certain dishes never go out of style for Valentine’s Day. These are the styles to look for when pairing wine with classic V-day dishes.
Les Fruits de Mer
You can’t go wrong with a little bit of bubbly come February 14th. It’s a safe and satisfying choice for seafood. A dry (extra brut, brut) sparkling wine is gorgeous with fresh oysters or a spot of caviar. If you’re splashing out with lobster or Dungeness crab, think luxe and opt for a bottle of vintage Champagne. The complexity and crispness of the wine works a treat with the richness of a lobster drizzled in melted butter.
If smoked salmon is on the menu, make your way to a bottle of sparkling rosé to take the dish to the next level. Speaking of salmon, a Pinot from Oregon or California’s Mendocino or Santa Barbara regions go beautifully with a salmon fillet. You can pair these with a grilled ahi steak, too.
February can still be quite cold in many parts of the northern hemisphere. It’s a fantastic excuse to carry on with some of the richer wines we’ve been enjoying over the winter. This couldn’t be more true if you’re preparing a steak dinner. California Cabernets and full-bodied Rhone reds offer a stunning balance between ripe, expressive fruit and a touch of earth – perfect for a choice cut of porterhouse. Leaner cuts like filet mignon show their best with the nuances found in red Burgundy. Avoid the elegant styles and pick up something that packs a punch like Gevrey-Chambertin.
Truffles, The Ultimate Luxury
Is there anything more delicious than freshly shaved truffles? Not in our books! Truffle risotto or truffle pasta need a wine that complements their unique savory-earthy profile. Sumptuous white wines are the way to go here. A full-bodied Chardonnay or white Rhone will make a stellar partner for your truffle dish. Just be sure to go easy on the oak. If you’re whipping up some truffle butter to smother over a steak, you can’t top a Barolo.
Choosing a wine pairing for a vegan or vegetarian Valentine’s dinner is easier than you may think. Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind. For light vegetable-based dishes, stick to light-bodied whites. Pinot Grigio, cool climate Sauvignon Blanc (e.g. New Zealand, Sancerre), and Grüner Veltliner are knockout pairings. Rosés and stuffed peppers are a match made in heaven. And don’t forget, sauces are your friend when it comes to hard to pair veggies like asparagus and artichoke.
Making lentils or mushrooms? Pass the Pinot Noir. Pick up a light-bodied version from a cool region.
Pairing With Poultry
A roast chicken for two gives you a few options. Look for rich white wines like Viognier, an aged white Rioja, and Chardonnay. If you’re in the mood for a red, pour your date a Pinot Noir. This classic red is also a must for duck and quail.
The Best Dessert Wine Pairings
No Valentine’s Day is complete without a ‘lil something sweet at the end of your meal. Pro-tip: make sure your wine is sweeter than your dessert. Pastries need something like and crisp like Moscato d’Asti. Late harvest and noble rot white wines are gorgeous with fruity sweets with a touch of spice. And for all the chocolate lovers out there, Port hits the mark with desserts laden with chocolate and fresh berries. If you’re more of a chocolate and caramel type, a late harvest red will be very, very good to your taste buds.
Of course, these are only guidelines to help steer you in the right direction. Your partner’s preferences, as well as your own, will definitely come into play. And don’t be afraid to branch out and explore a style or region you’ve never tried before. You and your significant other may just find a new food and wine pairing to fall in love with – after all, it is Valentine’s Day.