By Elizabeth Myllenbeck
During the month of February, there is a heightened sense of love, wellness and rebirth. Red and pink abound with hearts everywhere. Even if you are bitter toward Valentine’s Day, it can be the beginning of something new: Spring is in the air and the days are getting longer.
Wine is a love language and so is great food shared with your loved ones. Wine should enhance your well being and your meals; although it should be perfect without food as well. Enjoying great wine is ensuring you are pairing it with the right food at the right moment to connect all of your senses for a full in-body experience.
French champagne and cremant and American sparkling wines are always a great place to start when celebrating. Oftentimes, bubbly wines are paired with the wrong foods. No matter what you choose to drink, be sure to pair the food so it enhances your experience and doesn’t cause that nasty head shake when it’s just all wrong.
Champagne with wedding cake or other sweets are rarely a good match. Pair sparkling wines with foods that you would usually pair with a white wine: nutty cheeses with crackers, almonds with rosemary and spicy sausage make an excellent starter. Spicy Asian food, seafood, chicken, pork roast and oysters make a perfect main. Crazy as it seems, junk food is an awesome pairing, including popcorn and potato chips.
Want to impress your date and have the best? French champagne is on the top of the list. These are pricier, from the Champagne region and are meticulously produced with strict rules. Dom Perignon, Moet et Chandon, Cristal and Veuve Clicquot are classics. The bubbles are extra fine with aromas and flavors of pear, almond and toast.
Super delicious and as close to champagne as possible is the French cremant and American sparkling. These wines are typically made in the same way as champagne using a traditional method.
White wines fit for a beautiful evening out with loved ones are a tangy sancerre and crisp chablis. Perfect pinot noirs are from Sonoma County, California, and Oregon. Personal favorites are Kosta Brown, Flowers, anything by Paul Hobbs, Lumos, Ken Wright and Domaine Drouhin.
If you are opting for a big fatty steak, head to the cabernet sauvignon or red blend with lovely inky flavors and tannins. Baby Blue by Blue Rock and Lancaster Estate – both from Alexander Valley – are outstanding. These are all wines you should be able to find in Virginia, so head to your favorite wine shop.
A bottle of good wine is a beautiful adventure. This is your year of life-long renewal to do great things and be fabulous. Add lovely wines to your list of resolutions and you will thank yourself for it. So will your loved ones.
The writer is a former restauranteur in Old Town Alexandria and has a life-long passion for wine and food.