Romantic Food & Wine Pairings

If you’re looking for a list of aphrodisiacs to consume this Valentine’s Day, you’ve come to the wrong place. There are plenty of, uh, resources online to help you with that.

If, however, you’re simply seeking some suggestions for successful food-and-wine pairing, we can help—particularly if you’re planning to open a bottle or two (or three) of those recommended here yesterday (scroll down).

  • WITH PINOT NOIR: The silky, smooth texture of Pinot provides a nice balance when dining on char-grilled food, so a steak (perhaps cooked over oak chips) is always a good choice.

    For the “red-wine-with-fish” crowd, salmon is a sublime option—particularly when both the wine and the fish are from the Pacific Northwest.

    If you happen to be heading to California’s Central Coast for Valentine’s Day, be aware that Pinot Noir also pairs beautifully with that region’s culinary treat: tri-tip.

  • WITH SPARKLING WINE: Oysters. Scallops. Shrimp. Seafood, in general. All make great companions for bubbly, and because these dishes are lighter than red meat, you should have plenty of energy left over for, ahem, whatever you have planned for after dinner.

    Not a fish person? Sparkling wine also matches nicely with slightly spicy fare, such as certain Spanish tapas or sizzling chicken fajitas.

  • WITH SWEET WINE: The two basic types of sweet wine are “late harvest” dessert wines, which taste like sweet fruit, and Port, which can exude nut-like and chocolate flavors.

    With dessert wines, a peach or apricot tart would work well, as would a slice of pineapple upside-down cake. Or spoon lightly sugared peach or plum slices over pound cake.

    With Port, dessert can be as simple as a bowl of mixed nuts (unsalted), or as lavish as a triple-layer chocolate cake topped with a caramel drizzle. Port also pairs nicely with crunchy treats such as oatmeal-raisin-walnut cookies and macadamia nut cookies.

    Of course, if you don’t have a curfew and aren’t counting calories, you could make it a three-course meal. In that case, start with sparkling wine, move on to Pinot Noir, and finish with a sweet wine.


Do you have a favorite food-and-wine combination when it’s time to turn down the lights and light a few candles? Share your culinary passion in the Comments box below.

TOMORROW: The best sunsets in Sonoma County wine country.

Posted in Food and Wine Pairings/Recipes, Wine Tips
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