What Would a Sommelier Do?
By Matthew DeBord
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If you always assumed that "Valentine's Day" rhymes with "Champagne," the nation's sommeliers would agree. But humankind does not woo by bubbly alone. There are other options -- some a tad unexpected. A survey of sommeliers from coast to coast turned up some wonderful wines that have L-O-V-E written all over them. What's best, where these Valentine's Day pros are concerned, once the Champagne is gone, the juices have only just begun to flow.
Jean-Luc Le Du, Restaurant Daniel, New York
Le Du says that rosé champagne is a natural, due to its come-hither pinkish tint, but he prefers Blanc de Blancs as an aperitif. Regardless, you gotta have bubbly. "Valentine's Day is the day for Champagne," he maintains. From there, it's on to red Burgundy, "the sexiest wine in the world," in his view. To finish? "For the person of your dreams, it must be Château d'Yquem," he says, appointing the legendary sweet Sauternes. Nothing but the best, and spoken like a true Frenchman.
Bernard Sun, Montrachet, New York
"Champagne and Valentine's Day go hand in hand," says Sun, who will be pouring three levels of bubbly by the glass on February 14 (from $12 to $40). But, like Le Du, he puts his seductive seal of approval on a nice Burgundy (red or white). What to hold hands over at the meal's conclusion, to sweeten those lips for a good-night smooch? How about an eiswein from Canada? Despite the February chill, they've figured out how to keep the romantic fires burning north of the border.
Larry Stone, Rubicon, San Francisco
"Valentine's Day is special to me," says Stone, who got engaged on the holiday. "You never know where it will lead." He recommends that aspiring newlyweds set the mood with a half-bottle of Krug Champagne. "It's extravagant, but not over the top." Next, how about an '85 Gaja Barbaresco or an '85 Guigal Côte-Rôtie La Turque (the legendary wine's debut vintage)? "There's no way you can't be in love after drinking one of those," he says. Wind your whirlwind courtship dinner down with a '59 trockenbeerenauslese from Germany. "It'll just remind you how some things only get better with age."
Martin Korson, Brennan's, Houston
No foreplay here. Korson's recommendation is heartfelt: "Hands down, my favorite for Valentine's Day is rosé Champagne." There are equally forward suggestion on the way for the rest of the meal. "Bernardus Marinus is a chunky Cabernet Sauvignon, but it's also soft. And for a straight-up Cab, I'd go with the '95 Stags' Leap. I've been sitting on that one for two years, but it's ready now." His dessert wine choices are slightly offbeat. "Couples usually want a ruby Port, but sometimes they drink them too young, so lately I've been steering them toward Niepoort's '87 Colheita Tawny." And if Port is too stuffy for the big date? "Dolce Far Niente." A sweetie for your sweetie.
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