Sparkling Wine and Fireplace

Valentine’s Day is one of those polarizing holidays; either you love it or you hate it.For those who love it, it’s an opportunity to turn up the romance dial and spoil your special someone with lavish jewelry, heart-shaped chocolates, long stem roses and extravagant dining reservations. For those who hate it, it’s a chance to gripe about days gone by, when candy hearts and homemade cards were enough to put a smile on the faces of your loved ones. 

It makes you wonder; how did the celebration of St. Valentine become about gifts instead of love? 

If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is to slow down and return to simpler times.  

So why not bring back card making, chocolate fondues, and cozy dinners by the fire? It’s simple and inexpensive. On the North Shore we’re fortunate to have outstanding restaurants and wine stores, many of which feature Valentine’s Day specials and menus with romantic food and wine pairings. But if you’re thinking of staying home and chilling in front of the fire, here is my Valentine’s Day wine suggestion: Sparkling wine, (this includes Champagne, Prosecco and Cava). 

Veuve Clicquot Rose

Valentine's or anytime, a favorite of the author.

Why is bubbly a go-to for Valentines’ Day? It’s all about the versatility. Champagne and sparkling wines come in a wide variety of styles, price points, colors and flavors, so there’s a bottle for every palate. If you have a sweet tooth, you will enjoy a demi-sec wine like Freixenet Cordon Negro Sweet Cuvee, or Piper Heidsieck Cuvee Sublime. If you like a medium or bone dry style wine, you’ll like Gruet Brut NV, or my personal favorite, Veuve Cliquot Brut Rose. On a health kick? No problem. You can shop for an organic, biodynamic and even sugar-free sparkling wine Try Alberto Nani Organic Prosecco, or, for a guiltless toast, look for a bottle of Good Clean Spumante. With any luck you’ll sip the romance, but skip the hangover.

Feeling like a baller? Then grab a bottle of Roederer Cristal ($285) or Dom Perignon Brut Rose ($300.) Need a bottle for toasting but don’t want to spend a lot? Ménage A Trois Prosecco, Barefoot Bubbly Pink Moscato and Korbel Brut Rose will match the color of your Valentine’s Day cake, and at the same time tantalize your taste buds. Want a delicious, excellent value? These are my favorites: Lamarka Prosecco, Conde de Carait Brut NV Cava, or (if you’re splurging) Tattinger Prestige Rose Brut. 

And let’s talk versatility with food. 

Guiltless? Good Clean Spumante is organic and biodynamic.

Sparkling wines are light enough to be served before dinner as an aperitif, and for Valentine’s Day, they pair perfectly with fresh oysters. We all know where this is going right? Add a natural aphrodisiac to the mix and sparks will fly. Alternatively, you can add a touch of sophistication and elegance with a pairing of champagne and caviar, the perfect marriage of acidity and saltiness. Cue the Dom Perignon, Lovey. 

Looking for a cheaper alternative? Try pairing Chandon Sparkling wine with your favorite potato chips—no kidding, it’s the same palate experience at a fraction of the cost. It worked wonders for Marilyn Monroe in the Seven Year Itch. Appetizers aside, dry and semi dry sparkling wines like Roederer Estate Multi Vintage Brut and Perrier Jouet Grand Brutcan accompany Valentine’s inspired dishes like light fish or chicken, salads with goat cheese, mac and cheese and creamy-based dishes, etc.Thanks to their high acidity, sparkling wines pair well with these rich foods because they cut through the ocean flavors and heaviness of the creams. Still have a drop left in that bottle? Excellent. Save it for dessert. Champagne is classically paired with chocolate, lemon-based deserts, and strawberries and cream, but it can pair with just about any dessert. Try Pierre SparrCremant D’Alsace Brute Rose NV with a raspberry torte, or SaraccoMoscato d’Asti with lemon tartes, or my mom’s favorite, Mumm Napa Brut Prestige with Peach cobbler. 

The possibilities are endless. 

 When you stop to think about it, is there anything more romantic than sipping on a glass of bubbly while enjoying the sensual textures and sweetness of a decadent molten lava cake or strawberries dipped in chocolate? Try it at home and watch the romance barometer rise. 

Whether you safely dine out, order take out, or create a romantic meal at home, the important point is to relax and enjoy yourself, and don’t stress over creating the “ultimate Valentine’s Day”evening. Instead, light a candle, turn up the music, stoke the fire, and sip on something yummy. That is the perfect recipe for romance. 

Ellen B.Alden is a wine enthusiast who holds the WSET Diploma in Wine and Spirits. She worked at Andover Liquors, The Vineyard and the Red Oak Winery.  She lives in Manchester.