By Jennifer Buggica, Foodable Contributor
Ah, Valentine’s Day. The day that Cupid makes people feel warm and fuzzy inside. It’s a celebration of love with your significant other, and is also a food-centric occasion.
Most Valentine’s Day dinners will include wine and food pairing, a concept that has been around for an incredibly long time and spans multiple cultures. For Valentine’s Day, when a menu will be more calculated, it’s important to choose wines and foods that all work together to take the dining experience to the next level.
If dinner will be enjoyed at home, here are some pairings to consider.
Planning The Menu
It’s perfect to plan a multi-course meal to include a starter, main course and dessert. The dessert may very well be the most important, as it’s the final and lasting impression of the evening. Each course can be paired with a new wine to complement the flavors present on the plate.
When considering a starter, a simple, fresh salad will do the trick. With strawberries being in season, a spinach salad featuring this juicy red fruit will impress your mate. Pair it with a sweet poppyseed dressing to enhance the flavor, and watch the look of satisfaction appear across the table.
For an entree, the protein is your choice, and we have provided you with options for beef, chicken, and a vegetable dish, courtesy of wine expert Cindy Woodman.
- Beef. Classically grilled filet with a Rioja wine from Spain. A vibrant, medium-bodied wine, the 2008 Remelluri Rioja has notes of cherry and spice, giving this grilled dish some brightness.
- Chicken. Beautifully roasted chicken is a light, healthy and satisfying option. An Oregon Pinot Noir such as Scott Paul La Paulée is delicious and won’t overwhelm the dish. This wine choice is silky with a soft tannins.
- Vegetable. If you are opting for a vegetable dish, stuffed peppers with a creamy risotto is a great option. A dish more on the rich side, a dry Provençal Rosé would cut through the richness and provide a more balanced and delicate dish. Whispering Angel Rosé is a great option to provide this balance while also enhancing the food.
It’s All About The Dessert
Thoughts of dessert, chocolate, and other sweets abound when one has Valentine’s Day in mind. A perfect ending to a great meal lies in the dessert. A tasty wine is a necessity for your menu, but avoid dry wines. A dry wine with a sweet dessert can leave a bitter taste. For dessert, try a chocolate soufflé cake, creamy tiramisu, red velvet cupcakes, or caramel brownies paired with a sparkling off-dry or a semi-sweet wine.
Chocolate-covered strawberries are a popular hit that evokes romance. For a different take on a classic, try the recipe below for Triple Chocolate Strawberries. (There’s a surprise inside!) If you want to leave the “surprise” out, or even if you don’t, Banfi’s Rosa Regale, Brachetto d’Acqui has notes of ripe strawberries, a perfect complement to this dessert choice.
Valentine’s Day is already special, but enhancing your experience by pairing the foods you’ll be enjoying with the wines you’ll love will take your senses up a few notches. As Cindy suggests, “A dish of food can be completely enhanced with your choice of wine, as can the wine with your choice of food. Remember to pair light foods with lighter wines and heavier foods with heavy wines.”
Impress your sweetie, and create a meal you’ll remember by finding that flavor balance that’ll strike a chord.
Triple Chocolate Strawberries
1 Pound (16 Ounces) Strawberries
1 Cup Semisweet Chocolate Chips
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/3 Cup White Chocolate Chips
Rinse strawberries and dry completely. Using a flavor injector, inject chocolate wine into the top of each strawberry. Set aside.
In a small saucepan, melt semisweet chocolate chips over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. Add vanilla. Remove from the heat when chocolate has melted.
In a separate small saucepan, melt the white chocolate chips in the same fashion as the semisweet chocolate chips. Remove from the heat when melted.
One by one, dip strawberries into the melted chocolate and set on a parchment-covered pan. Using a fork, drizzle melted white chocolate over the strawberries.
Refrigerate strawberries until the chocolate has set, about 30 minutes.