A Simple Approach to Valentine’s Day Wine Selections This Week on the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show©


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Ciao Mambo, “Eat Like You Mean It”, located in Missoula on The Hip Strip.  Find them online at www.CiaoMambo.com

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Good Sunday morning and welcome back to the WineGuyMike show.  It’s nearly Valentine’s Day and the pressure is on, what to do.  There are two choices, dining out or staying at home for a nice evening.  No matter what your decision is Valentine’s Day involves three things, Food, Wine, and dessert.

Special occasions, in this case, Valentine’s Day is one time when you want the evening to be perfect so it is important to think about what wine you are going to enjoy with your meal.  This week I have a few easy suggestions on how to approach this decision making process.

Choosing a wine for your romantic Valentine’s dinner can be difficult in the sense of what wine will you and your dinner guest both enjoy.  If you are dining out I recommend choosing a restaurant, like Ciao Mambo in Missoula, that has a nice wine list and offers many selections of both red and white wines by the glass.  If your are like my wife and I she typically enjoys a dinner that pairs well with a white wine while I tend to enjoy dinners that dictate red wine.

If you are dining in and planning a nice dinner at home consider the menu, this way you can purchase your wine ahead of time.  Retail shelves get decimated on Valentine’s Day so by planning ahead you won’t need to be one of the last minute frantic wine shoppers.

On special occasions it is normal to step up the price you are willing to pay for wine.  I’m going to recommend three wines today that are fabulous.  The red and white wines are super wines and are well rounded and forgiving enough to pair with a myriad of Valentine dinners.

When I think about wine and food recommendations I always consider Old World wines that are made to enjoy with food or New World wines that are made in an Old World style.

Guigal is synonymous with the Côte-Rôtie area, for bringing this great wine region to prominence.  Guigal vinifies 1/3 of the total appellation, and unquestionably holding the finest sites in this tiny, special area.  The incredible Syrah from this area, co-fermented with a touch of Viognier, has tremendously balanced concentration, depth and finesse. 

Côte-Rôtie is situated in the northernmost region of the Rhône Valley.  The Syrah (96%) vine is planted on steep terraced hillsides which catch and focus the sun’s heat, giving the region its reputation and name: “roasted slope.” A small percentage of Viognier (4%) is interplanted with the Syrah, and the two are harvested and fermented together, giving the wine more elegance and lightness.

The wines are red, made with Syrah grapes and up to 20% Viognier, a white grape used for its aroma.  According to appellation rules, Syrah and Viognier must be fermented at the same time, a process known as cofermentation.  Côte-Rôtie wine typically exhibits an almost paradoxical combination of meat aromas (including bacon) and floral aromas.  However, even Côte-Rôtie from 100% Syrah can smell floral.

Marcel Guigal purchases grapes from small growers to supplement his own vineyards, harvesting late to achieve perfect ripeness. He ages each vintage in barrique (20% new barrels) for 24-30 months, and bottles the wines without fining or filtration.  The Côte-Rôtie Brune et Blonde de Guigal refers to the fact that grapes from the two areas of Côte-Rôtie are used, from the Côte Brune and the Côte Blonde.  The historical legend is that long ago a lord deeded the Côte Brune to his dark-haired daughter and the Côte Blonde to his blond daughter.  The soils of the Côte Brune are indeed darker, containing more iron and some clay, and the paler Côte Blonde soils have more sand and limestone. 

Guigal’s Côte-Rôtie Brune et Blonde is a wine of finesse and complexity that ages beautifully, developing aromas and flavors of black pepper, spice, licorice, and game.  The color of this wine is a beautiful deep ruby. This youthfully clenched, focused wine really stains the palate and has a long firm finish of mineral, candied flowers and blackberry.  It is one of the great wines of the world.

Anselmi San Vincenzo

In the annals of winemaking, Roberto Anselmi is a legend, a charismatic motorbike-riding rebel whose uncompromising quality-over-quantity approach has helped redefine the image of north Italian white wines.

Since taking over management of his family’s winery in the Soave district of northeast Italy’s Veneto region two decades ago, Anselmi has been motivated by an emotional and professional commitment to tapping the unrealized potential of the wines he grew up with. This has entailed a significant parting of ways with traditional vineyard and winemaking practices that have historically characterized the Soave district, and given birth to a new generation of north Italian white wines of unprecedented quality, character and finesse.

The Anselmi San Vincenzo is 80% Garganega, 10% Chardonnay, and 10% Sauvignon Blanc.  In the glass the color is light straw while the bouquet of this Northern Italian gem is crisp and pure, with scents of minerals, lemon/lime, apricot and yellow apples.  On the palate the mouthfeel is medium-bodied, dry and fresh, with notes of citrus fruit.  This is a delightful white wine selection from the Soave region.

Saracco Moscato D’Asti

Perfume of fresh peach, pear and aromatic white flowers.  A gentle sparkle brightens the fruit and a tingle of sweetness hints of candied fruits.  This wine is perfect as refreshing aperitif or a light finish to a meal.  Saracco has perfected the balance of acid and residual sugar to make an incredibly light and floral sparkling wine.

Paolo Saracco keeps tight control of the harvest to ensure a perfect acid balance to the natural sweetness of this grape.  A slight sparkle is traditional for Moscato d’Asti, it lifts the fruit and guarantees a wine that is light and refreshing.

The original Saracco logo had a portrait of a wolf because Luigi Saracco was known in the village of Castiglione Tinella as il Lupo or, The Wolf.  He got the name when he was a young man.  He would come home hungry after a hard day of work in the vineyards.  If dinner wasn’t ready as soon has he arrived, he would walk around outside the house.  He couldn’t stand being inside the house smelling the aromas and not be able to eat and he was too hungry to socialize. When the other villagers saw him pacing around smelling the air, they said “Look, there’s Saracco, the wolf.”

Every Saracco after Luigi has been known as “Lupetto” or son of the wolf.  Paolo decided to change his labels to reflect the delicate quality of his wines, but in his heart, and in his village, he is still known as “Lupetto”.

Check out Liquid Planet for today’s wine recommendations, this will give you a great head start for a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner.  From my table to yours Happy Valentine’s Day, I’ll see you on the radio.

"from my table to yours"

"from my table to yours"

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