Lovely Libations

Cupid likes red wine. Valentine’s conjures rosé varieties, but the lover’s holiday falls in the middle of chilly February. This occasion calls for wines with a sexy texture, wines that caress or tickle the palate. Above all, wine for lovers should be seamless and convey a sense of warmth. The following wines have these qualities, but also appeal to the aficionado—they’re complex and interesting.
These are ideal types—ask your wine monger for similar wines if you need one now or ask to have it ordered. It usually takes only a few days.

Schramsberg “Blanc de Noirs” Sparkling Wine, $30
A Pinot-based sparker with energetic bubbles that tickle and tingle and then turn frothy and creamy.

Zamora, Spain, 2005, $46
Made from the Tempranillo grape, this shows sea deep aromas and flavors of blueberries, vanilla and spice with an elegant oak and a velvety texture.

Guarachi Pinot Noir
Sonoma Coast, CA, 2008, $38
A silky, soft, sensual, mouth-filling Pinot with spiced cherry fruit and a wisp of campfire smoke. Utterly California.

Pine Ridge Merlot
Napa Valley, CA, 2006, $25
Impeccable balance of Merlot juiciness and elegance. This is the way many of us remember Merlot—dry, velvety fruit, but sophisticated and stimulating.

Olivares Dulce Monastrell
Jumilla, Spain, 2006, $25/500 mL
Mysterious, incense-like smokiness in this late harvest red. It will remind you of Port, but is lower in alcohol and much better with chocolate.

Available at Madison’s finer wine stores. If unavailable, most purveyors will special order from their wholesalers if requested. Michael Kwas is wine director at L’Etoile restaurant. He writes this column monthly.

Read more Off the Vine columns here.

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