On Valentine's Day, I am all about the Champagne. What better time for the world's most romantic wine, for the tingle of those millions of tiny bubbles?
But. There is that other Valentine hallmark: chocolate. Although Champagne is great with chocolate (it's great with anything), there is something deeply luxurious and sensual about the combination of chocolate and red wine.
I still remember the first time a restaurateur urged me to sip a glass of burgundy with a slice of chocolate cake. I thought she was nuts until I tried it. I've been playing variations on that pairing ever since.
So my Valentine's recommendation is first, buy the really good chocolates. Then pair them with something like the Press Run 2014 Monterey Valley Pinot Noir (available at big-box wine stores for about $17).
This pinot noir opens a spice box full of aromas, with whiffs of lavender, anise, ginger and white pepper. That warm spiciness follows through on the tongue, along with juicy blackberry and cherry flavor and an astringent touch of black tea. This is, true to a varietal, a light red but one with a lot of lively flavor going on.
Press Run Pinot Noir would pair well with other foods, but it's a natural with chocolates, whether they're traditional flavors or exotics like lavender, mango and cayenne. Or pair it, as my restaurateur adviser did, with a plush slice of dark chocolate cake. Someone will love you for it.
Colette Bancroft, Times staff writer