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17 Soulful Food & Wine Pairings For Valentine’s Day

Chianti and truffle pasta, anyone?

Valentine’s Day is fodder for criticism—we get it. February 14th is a *tad* capitalistic and notoriously efficient at making you feel crummy about yourself. But as off-putting as all that sounds, there are still ways to take back ownership of what can be an opportunity to romance yourself, your partner, or your friends.

This year, tap into your senses with a soulful food and wine pairing to honor St. Valentine. While the date commemorating the saint was established as February 14th several centuries prior, it wasn’t until the late 1300s that it was associated with lovers. It's been said that medieval English poet Geoffrey Chaucer wrote a poem around 1375 that “links a tradition of courtly love with the celebration of St. Valentine’s feast day,” which upon the holiday was (probably) born. And what better way to nod to these romantic origins than with your very own feast? Ahead, 17 ideas that inspire passion and intimacy.

Champagne + Scrambled Eggs and Toast

No need to wait until dinner. Une Femme Wines Co-founder Jen Pelka says breakfast in bed is a supremely pleasant way to begin your Valentine’s Day. "Soft scrambled eggs with creme fraîche and caviar, a side of buttered brioche toast showered in chopped chives, and Champagne.”

The Wine Pick:

Red Blend + Homemade Pizza

wine pairing

Photo: Courtesy of Trinity White of Starr Gazers

We know you honed your dough making skills over the last two years, now’s the time to let them shine. “Both myself and my partner Bridget have a passion for cooking pizza at home on the weekends. For us it's a special ritual, it's very hands-on and a chance to spend time together,” Broc Cellars Founder Chris Brockway says. The winemaker will be spending the holiday at home with his partner and their new baby—alongside pizza supplies and a bottle of their 2020 vintage. “A blend of Dolcetto, Montepulciano, and Sangiovese, which creates a table wine feel, capturing the essence of an old school, classic field blend."

Recipe Tip: Chris and Bridget like to make their pizza dough naturally leavened using only 00 flour. A pizza dough recipe to use at home that they recommend is from the cookbook Flour Water Salt Yeast by Ken Forkish.

The Wine Pick:

2020 Amore Rosso

Broc Cellars
$28

Petite Syrah + Roasted Quail

If your culinary chops are something to write home about, Girard Winery Winemaker Glenn Hugo suggests you whip up roasted quail with local blackberries simmered in a Petite Sirah reduction. “The meat is rich and savory, the sauce a lively mix of what the Italians call ‘agro-dolce’ or filled with intense flavors of sweet, tangy, and a hint of savory,” he says. “This pairing is about matching power with power, and the fruit in the sauce mirrors the fruit in the wine for a very fun, fresh lift with a lot of love.”

The Wine Pick:

2018 Petite Sirah

Girard Winery
$35

Rosé + Whipped Ricotta Toast

Sure, February 14th is still technically the dead of winter. But there’s something about V-Day’s romance that makes a light, fresh pairing feel like an optimistic choice. Tank Garage Winery Winemaker Bertus van Zyl recommends Rosé with asparagus, snap pea, and radish salad with whipped ricotta toast for the occasion. “The brightness of a light, crisp Rosé will pair perfectly with the fresh, creamy ricotta,” he says. “The lemon zest will really make the Rosé's mineral flavors pop and fresh greens will help the wine's fruit aromas shine.”

The Wine Pick:

2021 Wild Child, Rosé

Tank Garage Winery
$28

Sparkling Wine + French Toast Bake

wine pairing

Photo: Courtesy of Alexandra Hill

There are few indulgences more idyllic than breakfast in bed, and McBride Sisters Co-founder and President Robin McBride has an idea for how to do it this Valentine’s Day: Cardamom French Toast Bake paired with sparkling wine. “Why, you say? Because one, the french toast is delicately sweet and best served in bed (how romantic) and two, bubbles make the heart sing,” she says. “The warm spice and sweet berries of the bake dance in harmony with the wine's effervescent notes of rose petals and crushed berries. It's a pairing made for love.”

The Wine Pick:

Pinot Noir + Roasted Salmon

Secret’s out: you don’t have to drink white wine with fish. Michael Accurso, winemaker at EnRoute Winery in California's Russian River Valley, looks to cool-climate Pinot Noir paired with salmon to create a soulful dinner. “This Pinot features a smooth, velvety structure that’s elegantly balanced with generous red berry notes and clove accents that linger on the finish,” he says. “A perfect Valentine’s dinner accompaniment would be an oven roasted salmon with a caramelized brown sugar glaze.”

The Wine Pick:

Shiraz + Pappardelle With Pork Ragu

Resist the temptation to overcomplicate Valentine’s Day and follow Penfolds Senior Red Winemaker Steph Dutton's advice. "Keep it pared backed but elevate the basics. A slow cooked dish dressed with fresh, high quality herbs before serving is the ultimate in comfort but also feels like you’ve made it an occasion,” she says. “Shiraz ties in with every part of this philosophy, the craft of course never rushed.”

The Wine Pick:

Brut Rosé + Oven Roasted Salmon

wine pairing

Photo: Courtesy of Frank Family Vineyards

With its pink hue and festive bubbles, Brut Rosé is an obvious match for Valentine’s Day. “This wine makes for an accommodating pairing partner for an easy oven roasted salmon dish,” Marissa McCann of Frank Family Vineyards says. "It amplifies the elegance factor while its racing acidity cuts through the rich, oily layers of the fish, allowing the citrus tarragon flavor to shine through.”

The Wine Pick:

2016 Brut Rosé

Frank Family Vineyards
$55

Chardonnay + Branzino

Chardonnay is grown all over the world and in California’s Mendocino County, this grape can deliver aromas like layers of floral, butterscotch, fig, apricot and pear that are well-suited for the soulful sipper. “My favorite way to enjoy Valentine’s Day is with the pairing of Chardonnay and grilled fish, particularly Mediterranean Branzino,” Ettore Joint Winemaker Sofia River shares.

The Wine Pick:

2018 Chardonnay

Ettore Winery
$28

Chianti + Truffle Pasta

No offense to everyone else, but Italians know romance, it's in their DNA. “In Italy, we often showcase our love through food, and we’re always looking for a reason to toast to those we hold near and dear,” Ruffino Winemaker Gabriele Tacconi says. “To me, the perfect Valentine’s Day dish is a rich and decadent, cheesy Truffle Pasta paired with an elegant Tuscan red wine, like a Chianti Classico. The wine’s intense, classic Tuscan notes of violet, blackberry, plum, and spice stand up nicely to the richness of the indulgent flavors of parmesan and black truffle.”

The Wine Pick:

Merlot + Duck Breast

For Lenz Winery’s Jerol Bailey, savoring your favorite wines and foods feels innately soulful. “Our Merlot that is boasting notes of red and black cherries and deep plums would be perfectly matched with a local (crescent farms) duck breast with a cherry sauce."

The Wine Pick:

Pinot Noir + Gnocchi

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Photo: Courtesy of Sonoma-Cutrer

The beauty of pasta, according to Sonoma Curtrer’s Winemaker Zindanelia Arcidiacono, is the flexibility the sauce gives for wine pairings. “If you keep the sauce fresh with just sun-dried tomatoes, olive oil, basil, and parmesan cheese, a rosé or sparkling wine is great,” she notes. "This year, I'll pair mine with an Arrabbiata sauce, a touch of crème fraiche to soften the spiciness, and some crispy pancetta to accentuate the fruit and oak of a medium-bodied Pinot Noir from Russian River Valley.”

The Wine Pick:

Cabernet Sauvignon + Aged Ribeye

For the rare few of you who share your birthday with the day of Saint Valentine, you already know the drill: skip the crowds and cook at home. “February 14th is my birthday, so I avoid the busy restaurants,” Cliff Lede Vineyards Director of Winemaking Christopher Tynan shares. “I love to grill perfectly aged ribeye from master butcher Brian Flannery and my wife Katie makes my childhood favorite, Texas pecan and chocolate pie.”

The Wine Pick:

Grenache Blanc + Kimchi Brussels Sprouts

Take your vegetable serving to greater heights this February 14th with a kimchi Brussels sprouts bite. “A staple of Korean cuisine, kimchi is salted and fermented cabbage and radish seasoned with gochugaru, garlic, ginger, and other umami-filled seasonings. It’s also a natural probiotic,” Priest Ranch Tasting Room Manager Alejandro Gomez says. “In this dish, it’s added to roasted Brussels sprouts and smoky bacon, balancing the tangy flavor-packed kimchi with a smooth richness—much like Grenache Blanc.” He notes their 2019 vintage is a well-suited pairing. “Crisp, pleasant acidity on the palate and a creamy, medium-bodied mouthfeel.”

The Wine Pick:

2019 Grenache Blanc

Priest Ranch Winery
$22

Sparkling Wine + Caviar

In our opinion, caviar never gets old and Valentine’s Day is the perfect excuse to dip into this delicacy alongside a glass of sparkling wine. Thankfully, La Crema Chef Tracey Shepos Cenami agrees with us. “Fluffy Blini is the perfect accompaniment for salty caviar; follow that up with a sip of Brut Rosé and you will definitely know what ‘true love’ is.”

The Wine Pick:

Cabernet Sauvignon + Cherry Glazed Lamb Chops

wine pairing

Photo: Courtesy of Ancient Peaks

Cabernet Sauvignon is always a good choice but for a special occasion like Valentine’s Day, Ancient Peaks Winemaker Mike Sinor says to fire up the grill. “With aromas of black current and tobacco, our Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon would pair perfectly with a luscious cherry sauce while the deep texture and smooth tannins hold up to a meat like lamb of beef.”

The Wine Pick:

2019 Cabernet Sauvignon

Ancient Peaks
$25

Muscadet Sèvre-et-Maine Sur Lie + Cioppino

A seafood stew and a mineral-driven white wine will heighten the senses this Valentine’s Day—it’s also a favorite pairing over at River House at Odette’s in New Hope, Pennsylvania, a destination renowned for both its culinary and wine program. “Cioppino is a seafood stew originating from San Francisco that Italian and Portuguese fisherman in the area made popular and that's become an excellent substitute for the heavier fish stews that we see,” Chef Adam Rifkind says. To drink with it? Sommelier Sean Caviston nods toward Muscadet Sèvre-et-Maine Sur Lie. “These wines have a refreshing minerality that create the sense of fresh oyster shell and sea salt with a slight roundness on the palate from sue lie aging that foils well with the seafood and broth in Cioppino."

The Wine Pick:

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