Sparkle on Valentine’s Day

Wine love
By LAYNE WITHERELL  |  February 9, 2011

There are three basic Valentine's Day tactics: You can forget it and be forced to sleep outside with the large furry dog. Second, you can go out to dinner. Or, you can cook dinner in with a bottle of bubbly accompaniment.

I like bubbly for these events because it is festive, covers a range of styles and flavors, and shows that you aren't just some wannabe shithead that she picked up on the side of the road. The PBR of bubbles is Andre, located as usual on the bottom of your local grocer's shelf at a modest $6.49. This is usually the stuff that the winning team is seen spraying all over the locker room. It says right on the bottle "Serve very chilled" and they aren't kidding.

The big revolution in bubbles over the past 25 years has been in Spain. While Andre and its brethren come from large million-gallon tanks, the Spanish bubbles are created in the bottle for more flavor and complexity. The best news is that these only cost from $4 to $6 more a bottle and are versatile with food. Now comes the problem. The Freixenet, Codorniu, Cristalino, Don Conde, and brand names are the simple part. They are called Cava to indicate their bottle origin. What you do need to be aware of are the various levels of sweetness to these wines. If you are doing a cool paella or shrimp risotto dish, you want to ensure the word Brut is on the bottle. It is a drier bubbly better with seafood.

If you like fried food (calamari are always fabulous) then Spanish bubbles rock. They are just the right thing to have in the fridge when the neighbors invite you over for dinner at the last minute and you need to bring over something cool. Check for the label designation of X-Dry. Don't be fooled, as it is actually sweeter than Brut and when truffles appear for Valentine's Day this is the best bet.

Spain doesn't have the only mid-range sparklers out there. The Loire Valley French are creamier. Henry Varnay Blanc de Blancs (chardonnay) Brut $12 is a perfect combo with a little cheese opener (say, Manchego), or in a little festive mimosa just to say, "Hi, I didn't forget Valentine's Day so please don't kill me."

The big boy of bubbles is French Champagne, very fitting with Maine lobster. This is the height of at home pampering. The succulent richness of the meat dances with the pinpoint flavors of a $60 Veuve Cliquot. There are little champagne brands out there that are both values and high in quality. If you have time, go seek and find. They are worth it.

The main thing is don't forget your loved one this Valentine's Day. You can be creative, munch down, and don't have to sack out with the dog. How can you beat that?

  Topics: This Just In , Spain, Wine, champagne,  More more >
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