February, 2019

Ottawa, ON

Today on CFRA News talk Radio, on The Goods with Dahlia Kurtz, Sommelier Matt Steeves showcased some sexy wine picks that are perfectly suited for a romantic Valentine’s date night. Listen to our segment here – The Goods with Dahlia Kurtz (talking wine for Valentine’s Day with Sommelier Matt Steeves)

 Check out our Facebook Live video of our Radio show segment!

When planning a special Valentine’s date night, there are so many terrific wine styles from all over the world to complement and enhance your night.  From starting the evening with an iconic bottle of Champagne, to enjoying a decadently sweet ending with a glass of world-renowned Canadian Icewine, and many great wine styles in between, there are no shortage of sexy wines to enjoy and we’ve got a great line-up to share with you today for your romantic Valentine’s date night!


Valentine’s Day is also a great time to enjoy aphrodisiac foods like chocolate.

Chocolate contains a number of compounds associated with pleasure, well-being, and excitement, such as phenylethylamine and anandamide (the ‘bliss’ or ‘joy’ molecule). Chocolate also helps the brain produce feel-good serotonin which you can never have too much of, can you?

Chocolate Mousse with Drunken (Brandied) Cherries – a terrific pairing with a sweet digestif such as Brandy, Port, and of course Icewine, but also delicious with dry full bodied red wines like Cabernet Sauvignon or Italian Amarone, from the city of Love, Verona! 

Other aphrodisiac foods include oysters, caviar, vanilla, and red wine – yes, wine! Just one of many benefits of enjoying a glass or two of wine.  No wonder why we love it so much!

Here is a short list of some aphrodisiac foods that you may want to add to your date night, and pair with some great wines.

Oysters as an aphrodisiac sounds so clichéd, but they really can spark randiness. These shellfish are rich in zinc, a mineral that boosts the production of testosterone, which has been linked to a higher sex drive.  No wonder Casanova, the 18th century lover, ate 50 raw oysters every day…


Caviar offers similar benefits as Oyster do, boosting libido.  By the way, sparkling wine, such as Champagne, pairs beautifully with oysters and Caviar… Try the Moet & Chandon Champagne or a bottle of value-priced Ruffino Prosecco with some fine caviar or oysters on the half shell and enjoy the complementary pairings and the possible side effects…

Red wine: In addition to relaxing you faster than a simultaneous foot and neck rub can, red wine contains resveratrol, an antioxidant that helps boost blood flow and improves circulation before and during you know what…

Vanilla: The erotic effects of vanilla have been the subject of numerous studies, with men in particular showing a strong sensual response. The aroma
not only lowers stress levels to get you in the mood, but also evokes warmth, indulgence and euphoria.  Just happens that most oak-aged red wines have vanilla aromas…hmmm, so a nice California Cabernet seems like an essential ingredient for a romantic Valentine’s date night!

Strawberries: Since the beginning of time, well ancient Roman times anyway, strawberries have been regarded as romantic fruits. In fact, they’re the symbol for Venus, the Goddess of Love, which makes sense given they’re naturally heart-shaped and red in colour. Often referred to as the Valentine fruit, they’re a perfect choice for a


romantic dessert option. Moreover, they’re also rich in Vitamin C, which helps to keep your blood flowing. So think of this as nature’s undercover Viagra. Plus, they’re perfect for dipping into warm, melted chocolate (another known aphrodisiac!) and who doesn’t like the thought of chocolate dipped strawberries, especially if paired with a sweet Canadian Icewine like the Inniskillin Riesling Icewine.


Let’s get into my top romantic wine picks.  This year I decided to showcase some of my favourite wines from romantic wine regions, including Champagne, Niagara, and Verona (Italy) – the home of Romeo and Juliet, the international city of love!

One of the styles of wine we’re showing today is Pinot Noir, so commonly known as the heart break grape, given the challenges that winemakers go through trying to grow Pinot successfully throughout the year.  Pinot is also a grape that many have a love interest in…and you can count me in that camp.  I love a fine Pinot, and although some can costs thousands a bottle, you can find great Pinot at affordable prices, which I’ve got one here today that’s from our back yard in Ontario (well Niagara), and it’s a beauty!

So, let’s get into the wines that I chose to showcase for your Valentine’s date night.

Champagne is a must!!!  When it comes to Valentine’s, Rosé Champagne makes the ultimate statement!

Here’s a gorgeous example of fine Champagne from a storied Champagne house, Moët & Chandon…

Moët & Chandon Rosé Impérial – Champagne, France – $82.90


Moët & Chandon is celebrating 276 years as one of the world’s most celebrated Champagne houses. The Rosé Impérial is a soft rose-petal pink with coral highlights and a fine-textured mousse. Lifted aromas and flavours of strawberry , citrus, rose petal and fresh pastry. Dry, with medium body and palate-cleansing acidity.   Fantastic on its own, or when paired with popcorn!, it’s also delicious with seafood, game, cheese, and even desserts. Champagne is one of the most food-friendly wines and this is a fantastic example! Also, in addition to it being one of the finest Champagnes available, here’s a neat tidbit of trivia, Roger Federer is the brand ambassador for this Champagne House.

Moët & Chandon Rosé Impérial Food Pairing

Try this sexy Champagne Cocktail with Moët & Chandon Rosé Imperial, a splash of Meiomi Pinot Noir and two splashes of Belvedere Vodka

Moët Love Elixir Cocktail with Moët & Chandon Rosé Impérial

Pinot Noir, so commonly known as the heart break grape, given the challenges that winemakers go through trying to grow Pinot successfully throughout the year.  Pinot is also a grape that many have a love interest in…and you can count me in that camp.  I love a fine Pinot, and although some can costs thousands a bottle, you can find great Pinot at affordable prices, which I’ve got  a wonderful (local) for you to try today.


Icellars 2015 Pinot Noir is light ruby in colour with a garnet hue.  The aromas show the warmth of the vintage with sweet baked goods (imagine fresh gingerbread cookies), spice box, dried cherry, sweet herbs, and flinty minerality that shows the complexity of this premium Ontario Pinot Noir.  Tart cherry and spice on the palate, with fine tannins and refreshing acidity providing the structure to this incredibly well balanced Pinot.  Great on its own, yet the subtle texture and zesty mineral finish complement grilled salmon with fresh dill beautifully.  Enjoy year round and drink 2017-2022.  Tasted April 2017. 91-92 points. Matt Steeves

Buy Icellars Pinot Noir Winery Direct – $45


Now, I’ve got a couple wines from the City of Love, Verona!  Verona is famous for the the love story of Romeo and Juliet, and the famous balcony and ‘Juliet wall’ that hosts a million love notes, but it’s also famous for gorgeous Valpolicella wines, and these are both gems!  Pictured below are photos of Verona’s ‘Juliet’s wall’ in the city centre of beautiful Verona, Italy.


Starting off with a Ripasso…


Ripasso’s offer exceptional value. Farina’s 2013 Ripasso is no exception to that rule. A blend of 45% Corvina, 20% Corvinone, 25% Rondinella, 5% Molinara, 5% Dindarella, don’t worry if those don’t ring a bell, as those are the tasty and traditional grapes found in most Valpolicella wines, including the storied Amarone, and it’s little brother, Ripasso. Farina’s Ripasso was refermented on the skins of their Amarone grapes, to concentrate flavours and produce a silky smooth texture. The nose shows dark cherry, raspberry, clove, cedar and leather. The palate is juicy and smooth with dark cherry, plum, and spice on the finish. A great wine to enjoy with beef brisket, grilled lamb, firm cheese, or simply on it’s own.  88 points. Matt Steeves

Buy this Ripasso at LCBO – $17.60


And voila, the icon of Valpolicella…Amarone!


Bold, layered, and full flavoured – Farina’s Amarone is a wine that everyone will love! Rich and delicious, it’s packed full of black cherry, plum, dried figs, nutmeg, BBQ smoke, and cedar. Full bodied with a velvety smooth texture, sweet dried fruits and refreshing savoury flavours persist on the long finish. It’s no wonder why Canadians love this Amarone so much! Enjoy with Risotto all’Amarone, beef medallions with figs and blue cheese, and save a splash for dessert and enjoy with dark chocolate – all incredible pairings with this wine! Score – 93 – Matt Steeves www.quercusvino.ca

Buy this Amarone at LCBO – $41.95



Now, moving to Niagara, where they’re renowned for more than their waterfalls.  Yes, Niagara Falls is unofficially know as the eighth natural wonder of the world, but for me, especially this time of year, it’s their ultra premium Icewine (and terrific cool-climate Pinot Noir like the Arterra we tasted above) that get me excited, which is why I chose to include one of each in my top Valentine’s date night wine picks.

Inniskillin Riesling Icewine – Ontario – $79.95

Canada is renowned for its prized Icewine production, and Inniskillin is Canada’s original estate winery that’s become world-famous for their ultra premium Icewines. The 2014 Riesling Icewine is exceptionally rich and decadent. Equally refreshing, it’s perfectly suited for enjoyment with spicy Asian cuisine as the rich sugary texture provides the ultimate relief to the spiciest dishes. Equally incredible with the richest desserts, Icewine is so versatile it’s perfectly suited for enjoying with just about any meal you can imagine. Enjoy over the next couple decades, served chilled with good company. Tasted January 2016. 95 points. Matt Steeves – http://www.quercusvino.ca


Now, if for one reason or another you and your Valentine can’t celebrate this Valentine’s Day, then no worries, perhaps you can make it up to each other with an extra special wine-focused Valentine’s gift for that special wine lover in your life… consider hopping on a flight to Vancouver at the end of February for the best wine fair in Canada, and one of the best in North America – the Vancouver International Wine Festival.


If you haven’t attended the Vancouver Wine Festival then I highly recommend adding it to your wine tourism plans as it’s a terrific off-season event that hosts many of the best wine personalities, and wineries, in the world in one state of the art location in downtown Vancouver.

I’ll be attending the 2019 Vancouver International Wine Fest and tasting more of Canada’s top wines, along with hundreds of fantastic wines from all over the globe.  2019 will see California as the host wine region, where they’ll be highlighting their much loves wines from all over the Golden State. As Canadians have a profound love for Californian wines, given their consistent high quality and approachable style, this is a #VIWF you don’t want to miss!


Perhaps I’ll see you in Vancouver later this month!

For the time being, here’s wishing you a wonderful Valentine’s Day which I hope is filled with love, great food, and fine wines, like what we’ve shown here today on CFRA News Talk Radio with Dahlia Kurtz.


Matt Steeves

Matt Steeves –  Sommelier, Wine Writer, and Director with the National Capital Sommelier Guild (www.sommelierguild.com)  Follow Matt on Twitter @QuercusVino  and check out  www.mattswinepicks.com for his top wine and spirits picks.