What are your plans for Valentine's Day? A nice evening out? A romantic dinner and dance? An exotic weekend at a fancy hotel? What if you don't have a date or special someone to spend it with? Or what if you just want a quiet evening at home?
Regardless of your ideas, here are three simple culinary ideas that are sure to sweeten the moment:
1. Oregon Sparkling Wines and fresh strawberries with whipped cream.
Overall Sweetness: 2/10
Dry, méthode-champenoise white wines, with their dry flavors, are extremely subtle, and call for like-flavored foods. Strawberries have a lot to offer in the aromas department, but not necessarily flavor-wise, so they make a good pair. And the whipped cream? Its lipids help accent and transfer flavor out of the strawberries. Finally, the dry nature of the wine will help cut through the oils in the cream, cleansing your palate. Try any dry, Oregon sparkling white wines, such as David Hill or Argyle.
As for strawberries, look for fresh, organic strawberries from any natural/whole foods store, since they will tend to be ripest and have the highest quality.
2. Full-bodied Oregon Red Wines with dark chocolates.
Sweetness Scale: 5/10
This always seems an odd combination, but think about cherry cordials - the blending of cherry and chocolate flavors - and now consider the prevalent fruit and berry qualities in a good, hearty Pinot Noir or Cabernet Sauvignon.
The trick is to find a red wine that is very robust, with impressive tannins, while at the same time being quite dry. The tannins in the wine will help balance and break down the proteins present in the chocolate. You should avoid cheap red wines, because the goal here is find a wine strong enough to balance dark chocolate! Good suggestions include some of the heartier Oregon Pinot Noirs from Erath, Panther Creek, or Beran, and Oregon Cabernets from Bridgeview or Eola Hills.
As for the chocolate, look for a chocolate with high cocoa content. Try to avoid any of the cheaper/mainstream American brands, and look at some European (specifically, Belgian) dark chocolates. Averaging 50-75% cocoa by weight, low in overall sugar, and produced using cocoa butter, these types of chocolates are a perfect match for a good wine.
3. Oregon Late Harvest Wines drizzled over pound cake and vanilla bean ice cream.
Sweetness Scale: 8/10
This one takes the cake. Figuratively, of course. Most late-harvest (dessert) wines are packed with residual sugar, and make a good match for the sweetest of desserts. What's more, their high acid content means they will pair well with creamy foods. Finally, they make a perfect "sauce" to drizzle over the pound cake.
Many Oregon wineries produce these dessert-style late harvest wines. Look for Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Muscat, and even Sauvignon Blance late-harvest wines, usually available in "split" (375mL or 500mL) bottle sizes. The best place to find them is to contact the wineries directly. Some good examples include those produced by Erath, Sokol Blosser, Amity Vineyards, and Laurel Ridge.
Whatever your plans may be for Valentine's Day, consider trying one of these three pairings. We hope you enjoy these ideas, as well as that special day.
Happy Valentine's Day from OregonWines.com!