We’re treating our loved ones to some of these classic and surprise pairings for sparkling rosé, Pinot Noir, Sauternes, Port and more. Plus, 11 recommended recipes!
Ready to go above and beyond this Valentine’s Day? Wine Spectator’s editors are sharing their go-to wine-and-food pairings for a romantic meal for two, from traditional duck and Pinot Noir to a Jazz Age classic pairing for Bordeaux dessert wines to off-the-radar wine picks for V-Day standbys. Just add flowers!
Put a retro spin on a Valentine’s Day classic with an old-school pairing. (The Picture Pantry/Lisovskaya Natalia/Getty Images)
Sauternes and Oysters
Wine pick: CHÂTEAU GUIRAUD Sauternes 2014 (95 points, $44)
WS Review: Not shy, with unctuous dried apricot, peach and tangerine fruit flavors, augmented with ginger, bitter orange and bitter almond notes that add tension. Expressive, with a floral twinge on the finish imparting lift. Best from 2020 through 2040. 2,500 cases made. From France.—James Molesworth
Valentine’s Day is a perfect opportunity to try a pairing from the Roaring Twenties: oysters and sweet wine (no, that’s not a misprint). Back then, it was common to serve Bordeaux dessert wine Sauternes as an aperitif. The wine was also typically paired with oysters to kick off fancy feasts. And the pairing still works, especially if you’re serving a rich Sauternes like Château Guiraud’s alongside large, briny East Coast oysters.
Or try a sweet wine from Barsac if you like smaller, sweet West Coast oysters. Barsac is a subappellation of Sauternes, and makes a racier style thanks to its limestone soils. The Château Climens Barsac 2014 (97, $66) exemplifies this. Whichever wine you choose, just make sure you serve it chilled for best results. And if you’re not convinced about sweet pairings, then you can play it safe with one of Bordeaux’s dry whites like the bracing Clos Floridène Graves White 2017 (91, $23). Bordeaux’s whites are typically steely and brisk, rippling with gooseberry and tarragon notes that make them delicious with oysters from both U.S. coasts.—J.M.
Dessert wines are a can’t-miss pairing with foie gras. (Andrew Purcell)
Vendange Tardive and Foie Gras
Wine pick: SCHOFFIT Pinot Gris Alsace Grand Cru Rangen Clos St.-Théobald Vendanges Tardives 2015 (92 points, $60)
WS Review: This vibrant vendange tardive offers intense, finely meshed flavors of mango coulis, persimmon, spun honey and smoky mineral. Silky and elegant overall, with a delicate, lingering finish of ground ginger and orchard blossom. Drink now through 2028. 200 cases made. 5 cases imported. From France.—Alison Napjus
In my opinion it’s easier to pair dessert wines with savory treats than with sweet ones. One of my favorite savory delicacies is foie gras torchon, a traditional French terrine of duck or goose liver. My love for it began more than a decade ago while visiting Bordeaux for work. The region is a bastion for foie gras. But despite many local pairing possibilities, I was regularly served foie gras torchon there with late-harvest vendanges tardives wines from France’s Alsace region.
Vendanges tardives offer tropical, candied and preserved fruit flavors. They’re lightly mouthcoating and silky, and the best versions are balanced by pronounced acidity. A bright and sweet version like Schoffit’s Pinot Gris will help enhance your celebration as it cleanses your palate after each rich and savory bite.—A.N.
Duck and Pinot Noir are a classic match. (Andrew McCaul)
Pinot Noir and Duck
Wine pick: DEHLINGER Pinot Noir Russian River Valley Goldridge 2018 (94 points, $55)
WS Review: Well-spiced and suave, with lively cherry and currant flavors, backed by vibrant acidity. Slate and spice details show midpalate, revealing hints of citrus on the plush finish. Drink now through 2025. 1,095 cases made. From California.—Kim Marcus
One of my favorite meals to prepare for my wife is a whole duck cooked on our rotisserie, serving it with a Pinot Noir. For a side, I place sliced potatoes under the duck that slowly roast in the fat drippings (peas are also a good, green option). As a pairing, I’ve chosen a red from a top winery in the cradle of California Pinot. Dehlinger’s Pinot Noir offers vibrant acidity and intense fruit and spice flavors, which are a perfect foil for the rich duck and potatoes.
The name Goldridge refers to the sandy and loamy soils where Dehlinger’s vineyard is planted, common elements for many of the Russian River Valley’s best Pinot terroirs. The wine’s name also evokes the Sonoma appellation’s beautiful landscape. Altogether, it’s a special treat to mix and savor the delicious flavors of this classic meal and glorious wine.—K.M.