A dozen roses may the traditional expression of love, but we're willing to bet that wine has inspired far more romantic moments than floral arrangements ever did! Why not fill your Valentine's Day celebration this year with a delicious assortment of rosés? Although rosé has come to be associated with summer, it's such a diverse category of wine that can absolutely be enjoyed year round -- if you know which bottles to choose. Added bonus: rosés are some of the most food-friendly wines out there. If you're planning a romantic dinner leave the sleepy reds for another time and pop some pink! Read on for some of the perfect picks for Valentine's Day.
If you desire 'only the best' for your sweetheart, Champagne is the classic choice. True Champagne is only made in the Champagne region of France, and it's a splurge that's worth it if you want to go over the top: the combination of soil, climate, growing conditions, craft, and heritage give the wines of Champagne a luxurious complexity and depth that no other region can truly rival. Rosé Champagne is soft and elegant, filled with floral aromas and red fruit flavors, and lovely to toast with. If you don't want to indulge in an entire bottle, look for half-bottles or 'splits', there are lots of widely available options.
Drink rosé Champagne with: Lobsters with Beurre Blanc
Putting an Italian twist on your bubbles selection is creative and romantic. Although Prosecco has come to be thought of as the Italian equivalent to Champagne, that's not truly accurate: they don't share the same production method or grape varieties (more on that here). The major Italian sparkler that does rival Champagne in terms of quality and craft is called franciacorta: made in the Lombardy region of Italy (also home to two of my favorite cheeses, Gorgonzola and Taleggio) from mostly Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes, with a little Pinot Bianco allowed in the blend. And it's also made in the 'classic method,' meaning there is a double fermentation in the bottle just like Champagne. Franciacorta comes in many different styles, including a rosé version. Prices are on the level with Champagne (expect to pay $35-$80 a bottle): if you think Champagne is exclusive and luxurious, Franciacorta is about 20 times smaller as a growing region, with only about 100 producers (vs. over 19,000 Champagne vignerons), so you could say it's even more exclusive.
Drink franciacorta rosé with: Pasta with Rosemary Shrimp Scampi
Dry, Elegant Rosé
Rosé 'still wines' (ie, not sparkling) have never been hotter. The days of sticky-sweet white zin are happily behind us and wine lovers everywhere have been enjoying the crisp, refreshing and delicate rosé style iconic of the south of France. It's not just France that has wonderful rosé. Today great bottles come from Spain, California, and Oregon too. Their styles of rosé are usually made from red grapes, the juice allowed just a little bit of time in contact with the grape skins (where all the pigment comes from) to create a delicate blush color. It's not unusual to see very pale rosés made from Cabernet, Syrah or Grenache grapes.
Drink Dry and Elegant Rosé with: Pan-Seared Salmon with Fresh Herbs
Deep, Rich Rosé
If you normally go for red wine, there are some great rosés that are deep in color and have the richness and structure usually reserved for your favorite reds. The longer the grape skins are allowed to steep in their juice during winemaking, the darker color and stronger flavor and textural elements are achieved. Look for cerasuolo from southern Italy, or Spanish and Portuguese rosado wines. These richer styles are wonderful in wintertime when we desire a heartier profile in our food and wine; if you think you can't drink rosé with steak these are the ones you should try!
Drink deep, rich rosé with: Filet Mignon with Herb-and-Cheese Potatoes