Claire @ fromthegrapevine
Wines for your Valentine
We're all still stuck at home, so it means our Valentine's Day meals will have to be homemade, but on the flip side, you have more freedom to choose the perfect wine that will complement the dish and make your significant other happy (we hope). You can even plan your meal around the wine, making dishes that spotlight a special bottle.
Generally the broad rules are as follows;
Serve red wines with red meat or heavy dishes.
Serve white wines and Champagne with poultry, fish, or vegetables.
Serve sweet wines with dessert.
However, there are some flexibility with the rules, and we can throw sparkling wines into the mix, and a rosé is always allowed if that's your drink of choice.
So what's on the menu, and what would I suggest you pair with it?
Steak It's a bit of a cliché, but Argentine malbec is a classic pairing. You need robust reds to pair with steak, and the supermarket shelves won't disappoint if you head for the South America section. The best malbec (arguably) is from Mendoza, but there's some great malbec from the higher altitude vineyards in the northern regions of the country.
An alternative would be Cabernet Sauvignon - bold and complex, and found in many wine regions. If you can find a Californian Cab Sav in the supermarket, they can be delicious, but in the French section, a wine from the Haut-Medoc (such as Sainsbury's Cru Bourgeois Château d'Agassac Haut-Médoc, from the Taste the Difference range) would give the fullness and punch of fruit that this dish needs.
Oysters or mussels
You need a fresh Chablis to highlight the flintiness of these shellfish. Chablis, made from chardonnay grapes, is always fresh, unoaked with a classic mineral flavour. (Try the Tesco Finest Chablis, £12)
White fish or lobster
A riesling matches well here. Some people shudder at the thought of riesling, remembering sweet cheap offerings from the 70s. These days, rieslings are often dry and refined. Clare Valley in Australia has established itself as the best place in Australia for rieslings, and both Aldi and Lidl have quality examples at the bargain price of £6.99. (Aldi's has a bronze decanter award and Lidl's is rated 88 points).
Chocolate desserts Dark chocolate can be much more bitter than milk chocolate, and a great pairing would be port. Almost all port pairs well with dark chocolate because it's easy to find wines that are sweeter than bittersweet chocolate. Port is also a classic pairing with strong cheeses, so if you prefer a savoury dessert, then port is versatile.
For milk chocolate desserts, avoid anything that's too heavy when pairing a wine with milk chocolate, as the wine will overpower the chocolate. Sparkling wine works for milk chocolate.
You could reach for a Sauternes, a luscious sweet wine from the Bordeaux region of France - most of the supermarkets sell half bottles. The flavours of honey, dried apricots and baked fruits will complement the fruit in the pudding.
Alternatively German grape varieties - such as riesling and gewurtztraminer - combine fruitiness and spice to bring out the fruit in the dessert.
Whatever you're eating or drinking, have a wonderful Valentine's celebration.