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Wine Selections for Valentine’s Day

by Karen on February 12th, 2015

We usually dine-in for Valentine’s Day together with anyone that happens to be living with us at the time.
This past year we have had three generations in our household and that will be the case for at least a few more years.

Often dinner involves a gorgeous steak and roasted vegetables so our wine selections skew to red wine but I have a few favorites here for wine that pairs with pasta or seafood as well.
Availability was a criteria for each of the wines below–providing your merchant carries popular Washington wines and a good selection of Old World wines.

Pizza Wine

Valpolicella, pizza wine

Valpolicella, pizza wine

Recently my mother in law and her daughter went to a local car dealer to buy a car.  They knew exactly what they wanted and decided if the salesperson that approached them turned them off in any way they would leave and go to another dealership. It turns out on their first stop a very likable salesman from France met them and soon they were driving off the lot with the new car—they were tickled with the whole experience.

The salesman used to be a chef and he had some great wine recommendations  (now that is a great sales strategy–car dealers take notice). The Valpolicella above was on his list– it is widely available so you should be able to find it. Actually, his specific recommendation was the Ripasso which was more expensive but I could not find it so we tried this one instead.  We really liked it, the wine drinks well on its’ own and was a great match for pizza–it would also be great with lasagna, spaghetti, eggplant parmesan etc. The grapes are 80% Corvina, 10% Rondinella, 10% Sangiovese from the maritime Veneto region of northwest Italy.  At $16.00 this is a great value and will impress your red wine loving sweetheart.  Wine notes online say it is robust, dry, velvety, with wild berries, currant, spice, and hints of chocolate! Perfect.

The Ripasso version of this wine is made with the leftovers of Amarone production (made from grapes dried on mats up to 4 months) which lends a smooth richness and complexity to the wine. Zenato Ripassa is a 2010 Valpolicella Superiore Ripasso that you can find online for about $30

Wine Pairing with Seafood

Milbrandt Pinot Gris, perfect with crab cakes

Milbrandt Pinot Gris, perfect with crab cakes

Last night I made crab cakes with a recipe from our title Cooking Gluten Free! and served them with this Pinot Gris from Milbrandt.  I love their wines and this was $12.00 and a great match with the crabcakes. It would pair well with roast chicken or fish too. See Food and Wine Pairing Tips below for other white wines.

I generally make the crab cakes with fresh crab but (shush don’t tell my husband) I decided to make them last night with Chicken of the Sea lump crab meat from Trader Joe’s.  It is $9.99/pound—a far cry from the fresh price of $32/pound and he never knew the difference!!

It’s a pretty simple recipe that was served with a Tomato Coulee–super easy–and fresh arugula. I haven’t yet posted that recipe but it’s in the book.

Steak & Big Red Wines, Ultimate Wine Pairing

The Chief, $26-Charles and Charles $12-Saviah $28

The Chief, $26-Charles and Charles $12-Saviah $28


A classic match up are high alcohol red wines and fatty meat, see more below in Food and Wine Pairing Tips.  Here are some good ones to try:

The Chief is a 2012 red wine from the Columbia Valley in Washington. And even though the back label doesn’t say so– renowned winemaker Mark Ryan is involved (in tiny lettering you can even see his name on the side of the motorcycle).  A good friend of ours celebrated his 50th birthday by raiding his wine cellar of wines collected over the years and letting all of his invited guests drink it up!  Lots of fun–I met Mark Ryan there and have been a fan of his wine ever since. At $26.00 this is a wine you can bring to a dinner party and feel pretty good about–it drinks like a more expensive wine.

Charles and Charles 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon/Syrah is priced at $12.00–I haven’t had a chance to try this one yet but we have enjoyed their wines in the past.

Saviah 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon $28.00, Walla Walla, Washington, a favorite for us right now.  It has had a frequent spot near the check stand at my Metropolitan Market lately and I am often compelled to grab a bottle since I know the red wine lovers in my family really go for it.


A Great Everyday Red Table Wine


I wish I knew who Metropolitan Market contracted with to make this wine–it is very good, especially at $10.00.  I am sure the producer is a very well-kept secret.  It’s a quality wine you can depend upon, but of course only available at their stores in the Seattle area.  This Bordeaux varietal is 72% Cabernet, 17% Malbec, 10% Merlot, and 1% Cab Franc.

Food and Wine Pairing Tips

-The alcohol content of a wine is important to note when you are pairing wine so I have listed it below for each wine–it is indicated as a percentage.  The higher the number the “hotter” the wine (= higher alcohol).  These wines go well with fatty meats which can stand up to the higher alcohol.  Anything over 13.5% alcohol content pairs well with red meat with our favorites well over 14.0%

Zenato 13.5%
Milbrandt 12.5%
The Chief 14.6%
Charles and Charles 13.9%
Saviah 14.4%
Met Market Red 13.6%

-Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier , and Chardonnay are white wines that pair well with roast chicken, crab, white fish, lobster, salmon, and most seafood with a butter or cream sauce.

-If serving wine with chocolate be sure your wine is sweeter than your chocolate and by all means pair with dark chocolate, try Orange Muscat, vintage or tawny Port, or Amarone. Dark chocolate can also pair with Australian Shiraz (Syrah) or Malbec from Argentina. If you must pair with milk chocolate drink tawny Port.   And here is a link for more about wine and chocolate from NYT.


Some photos of Valentine’s Day recipes from our title Cooking Gluten Free!


Chocolate Espresso Cake with Ganache Glaze and Raspberry Filling

Chocolate Espresso Cake with Ganache Glaze and Raspberry Filling


gluten free macaroons

pyramid macaroon recipe in both Cooking Gluten Free 4th Edition ebook and in our Holiday ebook


Chocolate Truffles

Only the Java Chocolate Truffle is in the book, but if I get enough requests I can do a post on making ganache and tempering chocolate.


And here are some Valentine’s recipes in our Holiday ebook


gluten free nanaimo bars

Nanaimo bars



Old Timed Raisin Filled Cookie

Old Timed Raisin Filled Cookie–shape them into hearts!


Not a chocolate lover?

gluten free lemon bars

Lemon Bars–the best!!



  1. Tari Gordon permalink

    I enjoyed your wine pairing and general wine advice. Admiring your mix of cooking and wine passion. Also loved the notation of family members throughout the article.

  2. Rita Marlowe permalink

    I’d love a post on tempering chocolate. My sister and I made truffles for Christmas gifts this year and used a dipping chocolate, which has a bit of paraffin in it. We would rather not make them that way again so I am hoping you’ll tell us how to temper chocolate instead.

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