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Taster's choice: Valentine's wines
Tim Teichgraeber
Special to the Star Tribune

Having a great Valentine's Day can be a tough balancing act, whether you're balancing his expectations with hers or balancing a limited budget with unbounded romantic creativity.

According to Champagne-maker Korbel, most men expect to dine out, while women would prefer to stay home. His idea of the ideal gift is Champagne and chocolate, she prefers perfume. Personally, I'm a Champagne guy. And if it happens to be pink, well, what could be more appropriate?

Here are some suggestions for a romantic and effusively carbonated Valentine's Day, ranging from the profoundly erotic and obscure to the sensual yet obtainable.

• Egly-Ouriet 1995 Millesime Grand Cru ($50). If you know wine, the prospect of vintage Champagne from a producer that grows almost all of its own grapes and farms biodynamically is a strange and fascinating prospect. In this case, the wine lives up to the hype with a patchwork quilt of rich bread dough aromas, cherry, mushroom and zingy lime flavors. Not pink, but very sexy indeed. **** (The Wine Company)

• Egly-Ouriet Non-Vintage Blanc de Noir Vielle Vignes Grand Cru ($43). This is hands-down my favorite nonvintage Champagne. A brilliantly balanced and loud symphony of fruit, tart acid and yeasty richness. All good Champagne has those components, but each is forcefully and equally represented in this beautiful wine with flavors of rose petals, cherry, caramel, coconut, orange peel, lemon, pear -- you name it. It's more gold than pink, but wine this good is best consumed blindfolded. **** (The Wine Company)

• Korbel Non-Vintage Blanc de Noirs California ($12). Simple but very pleasant with an attractive just-short-of-rose transparent salmon color and ample fizziness. This inexpensive but well-made sparkler has fresh pear and Granny Smith apple and orange peel flavors, a touch of delicate sweetness and a crisp, citrus finish. A pleasant surprise. ***

• Chateau St. Michelle Non-vintage Blanc de Noirs Washington ($10). This one is straight-up pink with crisp cherry, lime and apple flavors and a hint of rich yeastiness to round it out. Don't depend on this one to seduce your mate all by itself, but couple it with a few clever one-liners and you're home free. ** 1/2

Local distributors

Those local distributors willing to take calls are listed at the end of each review. They can refer you to where these wines are available.

• The Wine Company, 651-487-1212

**** Exceptional

*** Highly recommended

** Recommended

* Satisfactory

Minneapolis Star Tribune
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