Editor’s note: It’s fair to say that Wirtz Beverage Nevada’s master sommelier and education director Thomas Burke knows wine. But he also knows people. So, people, here’s what he recommends for your Valentine’s Day bubbly and wine selections.
Gentlemen, bubbles are the anchor for that perfect Valentine’s Day plan. Whether you select Champagne or sparkling wine, the quality of your choice sets the tone for that romantic dinner or intimate evening at home. Here are some great choices that will show her you are savvy and have great taste.
DOLLAR SENSE. Money might be tight, but you still need to charm her, and that means a bottle of sparkling to complement the candles and bubble bath. Don’t think Dollar Store just because you are on a budget: Think Korbel. This California producer, despite their value focus, still makes their brut California sparkler ($10, Lee’s Discount Liquors) using the traditional production methods of Champagne, France, and, quite frankly, their quality can’t be beat at the price. Korbel even makes a sweet rosé ($10, Lee’s Discount Liquors) for those more inclined to enjoy something fruitier and not as dry.
THINK PINK. Rosés have visual sex appeal with their vibrant pink color and delicate stream of bubbles. They lean more toward the ripe, fragrant raspberry and strawberry aromas. Not only do you feel romantic drinking it, but also because rosés rely heavily on red grapes in their production, they are fuller and can be easily enjoyed throughout an entire meal. Marquee Champagne house Taittinger produces a Prestige Rosé Brut ($60, Khoury’s Fine Wine & Spirits) that is more affordable than many of Champagne’s super luxury cuvees, and still gives you full red-berry aromas and the wonderful freshness I look for in great rosé.
DOMESTIC IS IN. Style masters will tell you that great bubbles need not come only from France. Sparkling wine has been commercially produced in California since the ’60s, and the quality rivals (and at times exceeds) that of some of Champagne’s lauded producers. Schramsberg, a true American sparkling wine house, makes a blanc de blancs ($23, Total Wine & More) from 100 percent chardonnay grapes that is an ideal aperitif or complement to an array of seafood. If you really want to step it up, the Schramsberg Reserve ($106, Khoury’s Fine Wine & Spirits), aged for nearly five years before release, has the complexity and balance most people think only exists in true Champagne. And the hipsters know it is not about the label—it’s about the juice inside the bottle.
WHEN IT'S ABOUT THE MAN. Ladies, Valentine’s Day shouldn’t rest entirely on the man’s shoulders. Getting a bottle with his tastes in mind is a nice way to let him know you are thinking about him, too. So, if your guy is all Carhartt pants and work shirts, give him a cabernet sauvignon, such as Pine Ridge Winery’s Napa Valley cabernet ($12, Lee’s Discount Liquors) . Pine Ridge makes a Rutherford cabernet sauvignon as well ($55, Lee’s Discount Liquors), with all the fruit for this wine coming from their own vineyards in the Rutherford appellation. If his style is more Varvatos, give him a sexy pinot noir such as Chamisal Vineyards’ Edna Valley pinot ($14, Total Wine & More). Or can you see your man out in Brioni? Get him the sophisticated Italian wine Barrua by Agricola Punica ($40 suggested retail, Marché Bacchus French Bistro & Wine Market) from Sardegna. It’s got style that all his friends will be chasing.