Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and who doesn’t love wine and food pairing meals? This romantic holiday is the perfect time to make a beautiful home cooked meal (or have your favorite take-out!) paired with delicious wines to show your partner how much you love them.
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Guest post written by Certified Sommelier Anna Maria Kambourakis
Finding the best wine and food pair is not unlike finding the perfect partner. There are two ways to do it: complementary flavors and opposite flavors. Complementary flavors mean you find a wine that has similar characteristics as the food. For example, a spicy wine will pair nicely with a dish with lots of herbs and spices. Opposite, or contrasting wine pairings, are just that. A spicy dish can also be paired with the contrasting flavors of a sweeter wine.
Read on to find the best wine and food pairs for your Valentine’s Day. If you’re having a Valentine’s Day or just too tired to cook, there’s also wine pairings with your favorite take-out.
The Best Wine and Food Pairs
Champagne and Oysters
Of course, every Valentine’s Day wine pairing menu should start with Champagne! Champagne and oysters is a classic wine and food pairings. You can have shucked oysters delivered or you can shuck them yourself. Oysters are an aphrodisiac. They are rich in zinc which helps boost libido. Oh la la!
Champagne and oysters pair well together because Champagne has a high amount of acidity that complements that natural saltiness of the oysters. This would be a very sexy way to start your meal. Champagne usually comes in smaller bottles if you want to enjoy more than one wine for the evening.
Cabernet Sauvignon with Filet mignon
A special holiday like Valentine’s Day is a great time to go all out on food and wine. Filet mignon is one of the best cuts of beef and Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the greatest grapes! Cabs have high tannins, the astringency of the wine that you feel in your tongue and cheeks, is neutralized and softened by the protein and fat in beef. A delectable wine and food pair!
Lobster tails with Chardonnay
What do you dip lobster tails in? Drawn butter, right? Well a big buttery Chardonnay is the perfect accompaniment to lobster. When you treat your wine like a condiment, it’ll help make wine pairing easier for you. Buttery wine acts like the drawn butter that you’d dip lobster tails in.
Spaghetti Bolognese with Chianti
Have your own Lady and the Tramp moment over a plate of spaghetti Bolognese paired perfectly with Chianti. Chianti is the wine region within Tuscany, Italy that uses the Sangiovese grape to make these cherry tart wines. Is there anywhere more dreamy than Tuscany? The high acidity of Chianti complements the tomato sauce in spaghetti Bolognese. A really romantic wine pairing for Valentine’s Day for sure!
Salmon with Pinot Noir
Did you know that red wine can go with fish, too? Pinot Noir is a light bodied red wine with beautiful fruity and earthy characteristics. Because it’s on the light side it does not overwhelm the fish. Salmon is also a fattier fish which can hold its own against a red wine. Pinot Noir is a seductive wine that opens up with time. You can swirl and sniff all night long. A go-to for a Valentine’s Day wine and food pairing night!
Marry Me Chicken with Viognier
Marry Me chicken is a made of chicken breast with sun-dried tomatoes in a creamy sauce. There is no better dish to serve if you’re planning on popping the question. Ageing wine in oak barrels gives white wine the body and structure necessary to stand up to a heavy cream sauce. Viognier is a beautiful grape that does particularly well with oak ageing. The peach and floral aromas of Viognier are enchanting and your partner will certainly say yes!
Pasta Primavera with Sauvignon Blanc
If you’re looking to have a light and easy meal for Valentine’s Day, pasta primavera is a delicious option. A medley of vegetables over pasta needs a wine that is light and crispy. Sauvignon Blanc is all that and more. Toss in some artichokes and asparagus, both known aphrodisiacs. There are some vegetal characteristics to Sauvignon Blanc that make it the perfect match with many vegetables especially peppers.
Shrimp Scampi with Pinot Grigio
The light and delicate flavors of shrimp need an equally delicate wine like Pinot Grigio. Pinot Grigio is a light-bodied floral wine from Italy that has bright acidity. Pinot Grigio acts like a squeeze of lemon on top of the dish and brings all the flavors into harmony. Pinot Grigio is also light in alcohol so you can indulge in an extra glass.
If you’re not interested in cooking, here are a few takeout options with respective wine pairing for a low key Valentine’s Day.
Take-out Pizza with Merlot
Sometimes the dreamiest evening is the most romantic evening. If you’re not up for making a huge meal, order some pizza and relax with your partner in front of the tv with a bottle of Merlot. Watch a romantic comedy while you drink this red wine with lots of plum and cherry characteristics. Merlot is easy to please and is a big hit with any wine drinker looking to mellow out for the evening. A classic wine and food pair!
Take-out Thai food with Gewurztraminer
Turn up the heat this Valentine’s Day with some spicy Thai food! Thai food can be quite spicy so it is best paired with a wine with low-alcohol and a bit of sweetness. Gewurztraminer might be hard to say but it is so easy to enjoy! It is an alluring wine with aromas of lychee and rose petals. The sweet character will calm down the spice and create a harmonious pairing. Another delectable wine and food pair!
Take-out Mexican food with Carmenere
Nothing says love more than tacos! While Mexican food traditionally goes great with a nice cold beer, there’s a great wine you must try with it. Carmenere is a grape that originated in France but now grows amazingly in South America. Carmenere is a red wine with lots of green bell pepper aromas and has a spicy finish. The perfect wine and food pair for Mexican food!
Don’t forget dessert!
A good rule of thumb when choosing a wine pairing for Valentine’s Day desserts is that the wine should be sweeter than the food or else the wine will taste bitter. No one wants that.
Pair sweet with sweet for your sweetie.
Strawberry tarts with Moscato d’Asti
Moscato d’Asti is a very light bubbly wine that’s semi-sweet and fruity. The tartness of the wine will be a nice complement to the tart strawberries. Strawberry tarts aren’t super sweet so it only needs a wine with just enough sugar.
Chocolate cake with Brachetto d’Acqui
Brachetto d’Acqui is a semi-sweet sparkling red wine, also from Italy. It is absolutely divine with a rich chocolate cake. There’s something extra sexy about red wine that sparkles.
Make wine the dessert!
There are a few sweet wines out there that are good enough to take on the entire course. These dessert wines are syrupy sweet and a beautiful end to an evening, at least the food portion of the evening, wink wink.
Try a Vin Santo from the incredibly romantic island of Santorini, or a Sauternes from Bordeaux, France. These both have an incredible depth of flavor that you can uncover further with every sip.
Happy Valentine’s Day and I hope this helps you find your perfect wine and food pair!
Anna Maria Kambourakis is a Certified Sommelier who is passionate about wine education. With her blog, Unraveling Wine, she seeks to provide useful and practical information about wine in an easy-to-understand way. When she’s not writing or sipping on wine, she enjoys traveling to wine regions and trying out new recipes. You can follow her on social media @unravelingwine.
What is your favorite wine and food pair? Which wine and food pair are you going to give a try this Valentine’s Day? Let me know in the comments!