You have your Valentine dinner plans in place but wonder what wine to pair with chocolate-dipped strawberries or oysters. Whether you are planning dinner out at a restaurant or a romantic feast at home, consider these favorites.
Oysters: Pairing a bare, raw oyster with champagne is ideal but that wine may not hold up to the powerful, rich flavors of Oysters Rockefeller. Choose champagne for serving simple and fresh oysters, but for oysters adorned by sauces and toppings consider a more full-bodied white such as chardonnay.
- 2010 B.R. Cohn Silver Label Chardonnay, California (about $17 retail)
- NV Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Champagne, France (about $45 retail)
Steak: To choose a wine complementing beef consider the cooking method and cut of the steak. The tannins in red wines react to the fat in some cuts of beef. If you prefer leaner cuts such as sirloin or filet mignon then consider a less tannic wine such as merlot or pinot noir. For beef cuts with fatter content like a New York strip, rib eye or skirt steak, they will stand out with a more hearty tannic full-bodied wine like cabernet sauvignon or Italian Chianti.
- 2010 Root: 1 Pinot Noir, Chile (about $12 retail)
- 2009 Bell Wine Cellars Yountville Merlot, California (about $36 retail)
Chocolate: The simple rule is the wine should be at least as sweet, if not sweeter, than the chocolate. If the two are not compatible there could be a slight sour taste. The best pair-ups are light-bodied reds with mild-flavored chocolates and full-bodied reds with darker, more robust chocolates. Delicate Moscato dAsti is an ideal pairing with the mellow butter flavors of white chocolate.
- 2010 Cupcake Central Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, California (about $9 retail)
- NV Risata Moscato dAsti DOCG, Italy (about $17 retail)
Chocolate-dipped strawberries: Champagne, sparkling wines or fruity bubbly match beautifully with the chocolate and strawberry flavors. Brachetto dAcqui, (bra- KAY- toh) a lightly effervescent fruity low-alcohol red, already has a fresh taste of strawberry and raspberries, making it a favorite match for chocolate-dipped strawberries.
- NV Rosa Regale Brachetto dAcqui, Italy (about $18 retail)
- NV Conte Stella Rosa Brachetto dAcqui, Italy (about $24 retail)