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Unique Red Wine for Valentine’s Day

Feb 06, 2015 11:41AM ● By Cate Reynolds
By Kimberly Cooper

“Cabernet for Valentine’s Day. Now that is an original idea,” said no one, ever. Having a bottle of red opened at your romantically set table isn’t unique. It is as clichéd as serving oysters or triple chocolate desserts. People don’t want clichéd, they want different. In this world, there is certainly a niche for different, unique, and non-traditional. Consider Valentine’s Day a time to show your playful side and test out some new sips that are out of the ordinary.

First to consider is the oft-overlooked orange wine. The first thought when hearing orange wine may be citrus or tart. Orange wine, actually, is not a citrus wine but one that has essentially stewed in its own skin for a time. It only changes the color a bit but changes the flavor and mouthfeel of the wine dramatically. Orange wine is a bit radical.

“Orange wines are definitely for the adventurous,” says Brian Bolter, owner of Red Red Wine Bar and Dry 85, both in Annapolis. “Pair them like you would a red wine with heartier dishes. They’ll overpower lighter entrees like seafood.” If you want to serve orange wine with your Valentine’s dish, choose something rich and hearty. Beef stew may sound like a peasant’s dish but try a fancier French version with some garlic mashed potatoes. It will hold up well against the orange wine and will wow your loved one.

Say the unusual really isn’t your bag. That’s ok, stick with red. Instead of using standard, everyday reds however, you can still liven it up and set out some lesser-known red wines that will really wow.

“You can get a mind-blowing Tempranillo from Spain, Granache from Languedoc, or Barolo from Italy without blowing your budget,” Bolter says.

Of course, when you choose a lesser-known wine, there may be questions about how to pair it. The standard rules apply, don’t choose something too overpowering with your light fish or chicken dish.

“There’s an old saying, ‘Where it grows, it goes.’ It means for centuries, people made wines that paired well with what they ate,” Bolter advises. When you think about it, it makes perfect sense. Italian red wines are nice with something saucy or hearty like pasta. Spicy sauces are best friends with Spanish reds. So take that into consideration when you are setting out your wines for Valentine’s Day.

And if you’re stumped about where to find unique, out-of-the- ordinary wines, don’t fret. Head to your favorite wine bar or retailer and ask to chat up their wine buyer. It’s their job to know the field, to make recommendations, and to steer you in the right direction. Take your menu over to them and ask for some help if you are really unsure. Chances are, they can recommend quite a few choices.