February 12th, 2015.

Theme: Wines for a Valentine’s Date Night-in!

Today on our regular wine segment on CTV Morning LIve, Matt and CTV Host, Jeff Hopper, showcased some terrific wines and dessert pairings for the perfect Valentine’s date night-in! 

Check it out here: http://ottawa.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=549976

Sparkling wine, or ‘bubbles’, are one of the best aphrodisiacs so for Valentine’s it’s a must!   Or, if you’re planning on spending February 14th with your BFF, or cat, it’s still a great wine to kick start your special evening. My selection for this special day is:

  1. Handsome Brut VQA, $24.95 – a terrific Ontario grown alternative to Champagne.

Moving on, for the next course, I recommend a tasty Cabernet Sauvignon, arguably the world’s favourite red wine varietal. California produces some of the most crowd pleasing Cabs and this is a real winner.

  1. Sterling Cabernet Sauvignon, $29.95. Great California Cabernet!

Now, for the best part – Dessert! Ontario produces the finest IceWine in the world, hands down, no debate, this is where you come to find the sweetest, most refreshing non-fortified dessert wines. However, did you know that Ontario produces incredible Mead. Mead is wine made from honey, with three simple ingredients: honey, water, and yeast. One of the first forms of alcohol, this aphrodisiac beverage has been around for thousands of years. Ever wonder why they call it a honeymoon? Because you were to consume honey wine (Mead) during the lunar cycle of the first month of your marriage. Guaranteed a baby-maker, those honeymoons would have been pretty sweet with 30 days of drinking honey wine! Mead is a great wine to enjoy with salty or aged cheese, apple pie, crème brulee, spicy Asian cuisine, or splash some of fresh cut fruit and enjoy.

  1. The Mead we’re enjoying today is Rosewood Estates Winery Mead Royale, 2013, Barrel Aged Mead (Honey Wine), Niagara, Ontario. $14.95. Produced in a off-dry moderately sweet style, it’s sweet but not too sweet making it very versatile for food pairings.

I’ve teamed-up with Auntie Loos Treats www.auntieloostreats.ca to provide some delicious wine and food pairing options for that special night in. Today’s complementary pairing for the Mead: Vanilla Bean Cup Cake or Mixed Berry Oat Bar.

Next up, I’ve got two rose IceWines from Ontario that will blow your socks off. Although IceWine is perfect on its own, given its refreshing acidity and the fact that it’s loaded with pure sweet nectar, it’s the perfect complement to any rich dessert.

IceWine is very expensive to produce, especially when you consider how it’s made. The grapes are kept on the vine until the weather is -8C or colder, then they’re picked, at night, and pressed frozen, outside, at -8C or colder. The result is only the pure sugary juice is extracted from the berry and the water in the grape remains frozen so as not to dilute the rich sweet IceWine juice. The yield for IceWine is about 1/6th of regular wine, which makes it very expensive. Don’t expect to find IceWine for under $25-$30, a half bottle. More typically you’re looking at $40-$70 a half bottle. Luckily you can buy it in ¼ bottles making it that much easier on the pocketbook, and perfect amount for two to cap the end of a terrific wine and food date night-in!

Here are my IceWine selections for this Valentine’s:

  1. Featherstone Select Late Harvest Cabernet Franc – $19.95 (375ml). This is the best value ‘IceWine’ you can find! Not officially called ‘IceWine’ because it was picked at -6C, not -8C or colder as required by law. So sweet, and refreshing, this is a must and would pair terrifically with any rich dessert, with chocolate, or fresh berries. Some of my favourite pairings for this wine include strawberry shortcake and raspberry scones. Today’s pairing from Auntie Loo’s Treats: Maple Bacon Donut.

  1. Henry of Pelham Cabernet 2013 IceWine – $39.95 (200ml). Luscious, sweet, and refreshing beyond words! This is liquid sugar-gold. Between the romantic colour and the incredibly sweet taste, this is the special wine every Valentine’s date night-in should include as part of the sweet finale! There’s no dessert that would be too sweet for this incredible IceWine so go to town! My recommendations include: Black Forest Cake; fresh strawberries dipped in dark chocolate, chocolate truffle cheese cake. Today’s complementary pairing: Gluten Free Chocolate Peanut Butter Whoopie Pie or French Vanilla Cupcake care of Auntie Loo’s Treats.

Whatever your plans are for February 14th, weather it be a romantic evening or a relaxing evening all to yourself, the wines noted above each would be great this time of year and are sure to please. If you are fortunate enough to taste one or all of them, I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

Special thanks to Auntie Loo’s Treats for the awesome dessert pairings!   Check them out and taste for yourself how great their 100% vegan (&100% delicious) treats are.