The pressure surrounding Valentine’s Day is atrocious. From newly dating to newlywed, the ambiguity and grey area attributed to the ‘rules’ of V-Day make my heart rate spike just thinking about it. Presents: yay or nay? Dinner: in or out? Outfit: oh the variables! As a married woman of over 8 years, my husband and I have established a few unspoken rules to help navigate February 14th. So let’s Lighten Up Valentine’s Day. My focus has been to find some lighter style red wines that will pair perfectly with however you choose to spend your Valentine’s Day. Let go of the Valentine’s stress – let’s get started!
FÉLICETTE CATS IN SPACE GRENACHE ROUGE PAYS D’OC IGP
$16.99 at BC Liquor Stores Distributed by: Authentic Wine & Spirits Sip with your Dad while watching reruns of Star Trek: The Next Generation
If you’ve ever wondered who won the feline space race (I know it’s something I’ve often wondered about), this wine will tell you. Inspired by Félicette, the first and only known feline to experience the weightlessness of space, this wine is a tip of the hat to those that think outside the box.
From Southern France (Languedoc), it’s made from majority Grenache Noir and is laden with red fruits flavours such as raspberry and ripe plum. It’s juicy, soft and delicious. There’s a nominal amount of Syrah and Malbec (5% each) adding a touch of spice and complexity. With no oak aging, it’s not exactly weightless (pun intended), but it is nice and light making it an easy food pairing for just about any red-sauced pizza (hello, delivery) or pasta. Beam me up, Scotty! Oh, and if you’re interested in learning more about Félicette, check out this Kickstarter,aimed at raising funds to have a statue made of this cute little kitty.
MURPHY GOODE PINOT NOIR
$22.49 @ BC Liquor Stores (plus $1 off until March 2nd) Distributed by: Summit Fine Wines Sip while you’re debating whether to click ‘yes’ to that blind date
This Pinot Noir is devilishly confident. You’d never know that Pinot Noir is one of the most difficult grapes to grow; it’s extremely finicky and nuanced to the most finite shift in weather. Murphy Goode sources their Pinot grapes from a couple of different locations up and down the coast of California to ensure the best possible quality. Rated 90 points by Wine Enthusiast, the 2016 shows some darker fruit flavours with bright acidity and super friendly tannins.
Murphy Goode recommends pairing it with cedar plank salmon hot off the grill, or a pulled pork sandwich for more casual fare. No matter your choice of food, it stands up well to almost anything. Let’s just hope your blind date doesn’t stand YOU up….heyoooo.
Go on, you can say it: val-poh-li-chel-uh. There, now order it! It’s too easy to stay in our comfort zone when picking a wine out in public. Just go for it! More often than not, Italian wine is made from indigenous varietals. So when your friend or date asks you “Oh, what’s that you just ordered?”, just say it’s quintessentially Italian. Specifically, Valpolicella is a blend of Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara. Verging on more medium bodied than light, the freshness of this wine is what stands out. It’s bright while maintaining elegance. 100% drinkable now, Valpolicella is able to age up to 5 years. Red sour cherry flavour is dominant with an edge slight of aromatic herb. Enjoy on its own or with traditional Venetian plates such as seafood salad or gnocchi pasta.
ROAD 13 GAMAY
Approx. $20 at private wine stores or direct from winery Sample provided by Revelry Import Co. Sip when you want to drink what the hipsters are drinking
I’m head over heels for Gamay these days. While not commonly grown in the Okanagan, it’s more famous in France where it’s known as Beaujolais. Given the distinct climate differences, it’s impossible to compare Gamay to Gamay, which is why it’s so exciting to see BC producers thrive in creating something that is already famous somewhere else. For more on Beajuolais, check out a post I wrote last Fall.
The Road 13 Gamay is dynamite with a purplish hue in the glass. Personally, I love the cranberry and pomegranate flavours that Gamay is known for. There are also tart and savoury her components that just make my mouth water.
Road 13 is on a hot streak, winning Canadian Winery of the Year at last year’s WineAlign National Wine Awards. You can’t go wrong with anything that they make. This Gamay is a great lighter style red, best served with just a touch of chill.
FABULOUS ANT TOLNA PINOT NOIR
$12.49 at BC Liquor Stores Distributed by: The Bacchus Group Inc. Sip when you want to give your bank account a break
Fun fact: I actually helped launch this product into BC a few years ago, back in my agency days. And it’s so good to see that it’s still in stores, at an amazing price point, and continues to be delicious! Did you know that Hungary not only grows Pinot Noir, but also actually produces a pretty stellar version! Plus, it’s less than $15!
This wine is such a riot, it holds zero pretention. It’s hard to be snooty about wine when the label has an ant carrying a cherry. But it’s solid, juicy red cherry with a touch of spice. It’s light and aromatic, perfect to share with some friends in a no-stress Valentine’s Day celebration.
LOUIS BERNARD CÔTES DU RHONE
$16.99 at BC Liquor Stores (plus $2 off until March 2nd) Distributed by: Authentic Wine & Spirits Sip when you want to treat yo-self
When I say treat yo-self, I don’t mean that you have to splurge. I mean treat yo-soul. This wine seems lavish with its Southern France elegance and dignity, but it’s so approachable. A blend of Grenache and Syrah, the layers of complexity scream, “drink me!”
This is another one on the list that I would edge towards more medium-bodied. It’s got a richness that carries slightly more weight. It’s fruit forward and lively with super friendly tannins. With a Commended Award from the 2018 International Wine Challenge, grab this bottle and commend yourself by pouring a glass and sipping via candlelight in a bubble bath.
TENUTE SALVATERRA FALIA ROSSO IGT
Approximate retail: $16 at private wine stores Distributed by: Revelry Import Co. Sip while you’re making Bolognese sauce from scratch
Salvaterra is located in the heart of Valpolicella in Northern Italy. So why isn’t it called a Valpolicella? Because of the Teroldego, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot that’s included in the blend (amongst Corvina and Rondinella which are true to a Valpolicella wine). Oh wine laws, aren’t they fun? While light to medium bodied, the Falio Rosso has some deep colour. Likely thanks to the Teroldego. It’s got load of red fruit flavours off the bat (raspberries and cherry), and then moves towards some light spices on the mid palate including a touch of clove. Brilliant acidity, well-balanced. Stick to true Italian cuisine if you’re pairing with a meal and dream of your next holiday to Venice while you sip.
LA CREMA SONOMA COAST PINOT NOIR
$35.99 at BC Liquor Stores Distributed by: Summit Fine Wines Sip with your best girlfriends, on a night that no one has anywhere else to be
This is a wine to be savoured and enjoyed slowly. Preferable on a night with your best group of friends that you haven’t seen in years where no one has anywhere else to be. The nights where the inside jokes never end and there’s nary a cell phone in sight (except to take a photo of the wine). That’s what La Crema is all about, special moments that turn into memories. From the Sonoma Coast and rated 90 points from Wine Spectator, this is the most savoury wine of the bunch today. Allspice and cardamom are prevalent with stewed plums to support. Easy tannins, nicely structured. Velvety finish and one that’ll last longer than you’re willing to wait before our next sip.
So please join me, let’s Lighten Up Valentine’s Day! Ditch the stress, make a plan that’ll make YOU happy, or don’t make any plans at all. The only thing you need is a nice, light bodied red wine so share with whomever, or no one at all. Whatever floats your Valentine’s Day boat! Cheers!