Love & Wine
Matching hearts and flowers
By Lance Sparks
Love: it might not be all you need, but it’s a heckuva start on a gob of good stuff. And wine has a role to play, always has had, since the connection between Eros and Bacchus, with all periodic godly updates, right up to St. Valentine.
Love, of course, comes in many colors, from “in love” — the goofy-grinning, idiocy-inducing, soppy sort — to lofty abstractions, the kind of love that lifts our eyes to crowns of trees, across endless sets of waves, up to seas of stars. Some people are lucky enough to know other varieties — parental love, pet love, the love for a good truck. Among the yummiest forms of love has to be that kind couples feel long after the gushies have gurgled down the psychic drain, love that endures, nurtures and sustains, like that cascade of warmth that washes through dreams when, in the middle of the night, the sole of a foot finds the soft skin of the lover’s calf.
The wine/love interlock is deep and old — wine plus love of food, love of life itself. On that note, we gotta thank all the local wineries who donated to support Haiti relief. It’s hard to overstate how much and how often wine producers and distributors contribute to a wide range of charitable causes. Thanks: That’s love that counts.
Back to wine and love and Valentine’s Day: Let’s assume that, consistent with commercial traditions, a whole lotta lovers gotta use this occasion to run the amorous riff from roses to truffles, with sensuous dining and tasty tippling in between. Wines for sensual scenarios require careful consideration:
Bubbles: No questions, ’cause good bubblies are what the gods would drink if they could get ’em. Anyone who’s ever experienced truly great Champagne would attest to its power to stir passions and play love songs on synapses. Now, there are rafts of bubblies competing for lovers’ bux, but plunk for the best you can afford. And DO NOT BUY CHEAPSHIT, that fi’-dollah plonk, unless you just want gassy guts and a night alone. Good, drinkable bubbles are available and affordable: Chateau Ste Michelle Blanc de Blanc ($10) is fluffy and good value. For a few dollars more, find Gruet Blanc de Noirs ($15), deeper flavors, very nice. Buying local? Capitello Brut ($25) is superb, as is Meriwether Discovery Cuvée ($18), lively, bright and a bargain.
Sexy red: Of all red wines, none speak love like pinot noir, and because the 2007 vintage has been so bad-rapped by wine press pundits, some fine bargains linger on shelves. Among the best is Wahle 2007 Pinot Noir ($24); pronounced like wall, it’s richer, rounder than many of its brethren of the ’07 vintage, a natural match to hearts and flowers.
Dishin’ fish: Nice piece of halibut in caper/butter sauce, food for love? Calls for super white wine. J. Albin 2007 Pinot Gris ($13) is silky smooth and delivers delish flavors echoing pears, peaches, apples. Rare and some say great: The Eyrie Vineyards 2007 Reserve Chardonnay ($30) is considered by some wine pros as among the top chardonnays made in the U.S. of A. If your lover loves a chard and you can take the ticket, pop the top and taste the best.
All the love we can make, from Mole and me and all of us, sending it to all of you, with wishes for even better.