February 12, 2021
Today on CTV Morning Live, CTVs Annette Goerner and Sommelier Matt Steeves showcased their top wine picks for enjoying this weekend, whether you’re hosting a virtual Palentine’s or Galentine’s celebration, or creating a romantic date-night in. Whatever your weekend looks like, these Sommelier-selected wines are great options for this weekend, and all winter long.
When planning a special Valentine’s/Palentine’s/Galentine’s night, there are so many wine styles from all over the world to complement and enhance your evening. From kicking off the evening with a bottle of sparkling wine, to enjoying a sweet ending with a glass of world-renowned Canadian Icewine, and many great wine styles in between, the trick is finding the right wines for the occasion, and that’s what we’ve done here, preparing a guaranteed to be enjoyed line-up for whatever your Valentine’s weekend plans entail.
With everything feeling like it’s been turned inside out these days, with lockdowns, curfews, and restrictions on in-restaurant dining, 2021 is certainly a different year than normal for Valentine’s Day. That said, with virtual socializing, Zoom happy hours, and Google Hangouts gaining popularity for socializing with friends during the pandemic, options for enjoying a few glasses of wine with others this Palentine’s / Galentine’s are endless. Thanks to curbside food pick-up or delivery services and now wine delivery services such as Skip the Dishes and WineRack.com, it’s become quite convenient to simply click and sit-back for your special wine and food to be delivered.
If you haven’t already tried it, I invite you to check out the Skip the Dishes app, where you simply select which wines you want from your local WineRack and with a few clicks you can have them delivered to your house, your friend’s, or your Valentine’s. It’s that simple, and no need to leave the comforts of your home! I’ve actually selected a few wines from the WineRack today as top picks for the occasion, including some tasty Canadian bubbly and Icewine.
So, let’s get into the wines that I chose to showcase for your special Valentine’s weekend.
This year I selected wines from some of my favourite wine producing regions around the world, including Napa Valley California/USA, Niagara Ontario/Canada, Burgundy France, Australia, and Italy (including my beloved Verona, where world-famous Valpolicella wines hail from, also the home of Romeo and Juliet and the international city of love)!
Bubbly is a must!!! When it comes to Valentine’s, traditional method sparkling wines, especially Rosé bubbly, makes the ultimate statement!
So, we’re starting with a few great options, local and fine French bubbly.
Louis Bouillot Perle d’Aurore Brut Rosé Crémant de Bourgogne – Founded in 1877, Bouillot was one of the first to experiment with the crafting of sparkling Burgundy wine. This blend of Pinot Noir, Gamay and Chardonnay is ever delightful, fruity and dry with pretty strawberry, citrus and a touch of spice. $22.95 @LCBO
Jackson-Triggs Sparkling Reserve (Niagara, ON) – Pale straw colour; green pear, yeasty and bread pudding aromas with floral and fresh fig hints; dry, clean, refreshing palate with a fine cleansing mousse. Available at LCBO or WineRack and Skip the Dishes – $15.95
Jackson-Triggs Entourage Grand Reserve Brut Sparkling 2016 – A very impressive high quality sparkling wine from this well known Niagara-on-the-Lake winery. At $29.95, Jackson-Triggs’ Entourage Grand Reserve Brut has become a Sommelier favourite with each vintage given its consistent quality yet at a fraction of the price sparkling wines of this caliber often command. The 2016 vintage is the finest I recall tasting – every component of this wine is working in beautiful harmony, from its creamy mousse to the rich stone fruit and marzipan pasty notes, culminating with a long refreshing finish as the endless stream of micro bubbles persists. Enjoy: 2020-2025. Highly recommended! Score – 93. (Matt Steeves, quercusvino.ca, June 2020) – Available at LCBO and WineRack
Saintly Sparkling Rosé – Aromas of strawberry, raspberry, and peach, as well as subtle floral notes. The palate is clean and crisp with a rich texture and dry finish. – $18.95 – available at WineRack
Hearty red wines…not only delicious and perfectly suited for enjoying in the cold Canadian winter, but 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…making them an absolute must this Valentine’s weekend…here are some fantastic options for your Valentine’s weekend…
Starting with Pinot Noir, commonly known as the Heartbreak Grape given the challenges that winemakers go through trying to grow Pinot successfully. 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 various styles of Pinot that don’t cost an arm and a leg, such as this hearty California Pinot by Meiomi – available at LCBO for $22.95
Here are a few value-priced reds that will resonate well this season and are easy on the pocket book. Low cost, high flavour.
Ménage à Trois Cabernet Sauvignon – This full-flavoured cabernet sauvignon has forward aromas and flavours of ripe plum, chocolate and vanilla, followed by cedar and spice. The wine is full-bodied and smooth with a long, luscious finish. Enjoy with bacon-wrapped barbecued steak and French fries or pizza with your favourite toppings. Available at LCBO – $17.95
Frank Hellwig Shiraz Grenache – Available at LCBO – $17.95
Frank Hellwig, an Australian winemaker, with nearly a decade of winemaking experience in Canada, has crafted a delicious red blend (80% Shiraz & 20% Grenache) that’s guranteed to resonate with Canadian wine enthusiasts looking for a full-flavoured sub $20 bottle of wine, making it ideally suited for enjoying any evening of the week!
Sourced from some of South Australia’s finest regions, including McLaren Vale, Barossa Valley, and Clare Valley, this big and juicy red bland is chalked full of stewed dark fruits, sweet baking spices, and smoky notes. Frank Hellwig Shiraz Grenache is a wine you’re going to love this winter with tangy braised short ribs, chilis and stews, or simply on its own! Highly recommended and what a great choice for entertaining. Tasted November 2020. 89-90 points. Matt Steeves – www.quercusvino.ca – Available at LCBO – $17.95
Umberto Cesari Iove Rosso IGT – Skilful blending combines the best qualities that two grape varieties have to offer. From the meticulously-tended vineyards of Emilia-Romagna comes a blend of sangiovese and merlot with delicious dark fruit, licorice, nuts, toast and berry. A food-friendly companion to pizza, pasta and veal parmigiana. Available at LCBO – $12.95 (on sale February 2021 for $10.45)
And special occasions call for special wines, and I’ve got two gorgeous high quality wines that are sure to please all palates!
Robert Mondavi’s Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon – The late Robert Mondavi is considered the godfather of the California wine movement. This classic Cab – with cassis, blackberry and cedar notes – has been made since the winery’s founding in 1966. Enjoy it with hearty dishes: meaty lasagna or filet mignon. Available at LCBO – $54.95
Now, some world-class wine from the City of Love, Verona, Italy! Verona is famous for the the love story of Romeo and Juliet, her balcony and the ‘Juliet wall’ that hosts a million love notes, but it’s also famous for Valpolicella wines, including iconic Amarone, the famous wine that’s made from withered grapes resulting in incredibly robust, powerful, concentrated, and flavorful wines!
Tommasi Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2015 – Extremely attractive aromas of dried fruit, prunes and sweet almonds follow through to a medium to full body, soft, juicy fruit and a flavorful finish. Shows depth and beauty on the finish. Balanced and lovely now. Available at LCBO – $49.95
Regardless of how you’re celebrating this Valentine’s, a sweet ending is always a nice treat, and with that in mind I’ve got two great options here…a local Canadian Icewine, and a fine Tawny Port. Both are super versatile, pair wonderfully with any sweet dessert, chocolate, or cheese.
Starting off with a fine Canadian Icewine.
Moving to Niagara, where they’re renowned for more than their waterfalls. Although Niagara Falls is unofficially know as the eighth natural wonder of the world, and what a romantic place to visit, it’s their world-renowned Icewine that I fall for! Why not treat yourself and your special partner to a glass of fine Icewine. For this epic Valentine’s weekend wine flight, we’ve selected some iconic Inniskillin Icewine which is conveniently available via Skip the Dishes/WineRack and at LCBO. If you’re looking for a sweet ending to a special meal, or for toasting your Galentine’s virtual party, check out some Inniskillin Icewine for the occasion.
Inniskillin Vidal Icewine – The 1989 vintage of this Icewine won the Grand Prix d’Honneur at Vinexpo and put Canada on the global wine map. Delicious creamy peach, candied citrus peel and honey flavours.
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. 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
Tawny Port is a wonderful treat after any meal, all year long, but especially in the cold winter months making Valentine’s weekend the perfect time to enjoy a few small glasses to cap off a great evening.
Messias 10 Year Tawny Port – another fantastic choice for any Valentine’s celebration, whether it be after a meal, with a dessert, or fireside. And don’t worry about finishing it all at once, Tawny Port can stay fresh for over a month if stored in the fridge after opening.
Here are a few super special, seasonally perfect cocktails to enjoy this weekend, starting off with an Icewine-based cocktail…
Inn Fashion Cocktail (an Icewine twist on a storied Whisky cocktail)
1½ oz. Inniskillin Vidal Icewine
1½ oz. Scotch Whisky
2 dashes of Angostura bitters
Preparation: Combine all ingredients in a rocks glass with ice. Stir to chill. Garnish with an orange twist.
Seasonality: All winter long and on Valentine’s weekend and throughout Winterlude…all perfect time to savour this fine cocktail.
Tasting Notes: A sweeter version of the age-old Old Fashioned cocktail, and just as smooth.
Now, moving to Gin, arguably the hottest spirit on the market these days, and this one’s locally sourced.
Romeo’s Gin – locally produced in Quebec, available at the LCBO – $39.95 – a great Gin for your favourite cocktail.
Snow-capped Gin Fizz: a fantastic Gin-based cocktail to enjoy this winter.
Try its frothy, snow-capped cocktail, the Gin Fizz. The secret to creating the perfect creaminess and froth is to shake it, shake it, shake it—and then shake it some more.
2 oz Romeo’s Gin
1 oz Fresh lemon juice
3⁄4 oz Simple syrup
1 Egg white (about 1/2 oz)
1 oz Club soda
Add the first four ingredients to a shaker and dry-shake (without ice) for about 10 seconds. Add 3 or 4 ice cubes and shake very well. Double-strain into a chilled fizz glass and top with club soda et voila! A delicious Gin-based cocktail for the holidays.
ROMEO’S BERRIES & ROSEMARY GIN & TONIC
I hope you have a wonderful Valentine’s and that you’re able to enhance your special evening with a few of these wine picks, which IMHO are the perfect catalyst to heat up this chilly Canadian Valentine’s regardless of how you’re spending it.