6 Valentine's Day Wine Picks and Pairings from Our Editors

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!

6 Valentine's Day Wine Picks and Pairings from Our Editors
Chef Hedy Goldsmith's chocolate cream pie is topped with whipped cream and garnished with roasted white chocolate crumbles. (Andrew McCaul)
Feb 9, 2021

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!

Get more Valentine’s Day inspiration!
ABCs of Pairing Wine and Chocolate
5 Favorite Recipes to Pair with Sparkling Wine
Valentine’s at Home: Spice-Crusted Pork Belly
7 Romantic Chocolate Treats

Raw shucked oysters and glasses of wine
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.

Related recipes:
Roasted Oysters with Citrus Garlic Butter
Tom Colicchio’s Grilled Oysters with Lemon Chile Ramp Butter

Wine Spectator website members:
Find more recently rated Bordeaux dessert wines
Find more recently rated Bordeaux whites

Seared foie gras with huckleberry fig jam and wine
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.

Related recipes:
Seared Foie Gras with Huckleberry Fig Jam

Wine Spectator website members:
Find more recently rated wines from Alsace

Glazed roast duck slices
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.

Related recipes:
Seared Duck Breast with Spaghetti Squash
Charlie Palmer’s Duck Breast with Citrus Couscous
Glazed Roast Duck
Gary Danko’s Grilled Duck Cutlets

Wine Spectator website members:
Find more recently rated Sonoma Pinot Noirs

Panna cotta with berry sorbet and sparkling rosé
A mixed-berry sorbet creates a juicy connection to sparkling rosé. (Lucy Schaeffer)

Sparkling Rosé and Berries

Wine pick: DOMAINE CARNEROS Brut Rosé Carneros 2016 (93 points, $44)
WS Review: Refined yet festive, offering gorgeous aromas of rose petal, strawberry and watermelon that lead to crisp, steely flavors, with a hint of graham cracker on the long, lingering finish. Drink now. 7,160 cases made. From California.—Tim Fish

Sparkling rosé is the quintessential Valentine’s Day drink for me. From its romantic color to its crisp and festive flavors, it sets the right mood. Blush bubblies are also a refreshing alternative to the dark and sweet wines often paired with the holiday’s essential chocolates. And if you pour one of these pink wines alongside fresh berries or a berry-based dessert, the combination sings.

Chocolate-covered strawberries are an obvious and easy choice with this brut from Domaine Carneros. I also recall a molten chocolate cake with raspberry sauce I enjoyed a few years ago. The sauce emphasized the fruit’s fresh flavors, rather than its sweetness. The cake was wantonly rich, so a fresher sauce made it a better match for sparkling rosé.—T.F.

Related recipe:
Panna Cotta with Berry Sorbet

Wine Spectator website members:
Find more recently rated California sparkling wines

Wild berry tart with almond frangipane and oatmeal streusel
Sweet meets sour meets nutty in this berry tart with almond frangipane and oatmeal streusel. (Andrew Purcell)

Vin Doux Naturel and Fruit Tart

Wine pick: VIGNERONS CATALANS Muscat de Rivesaltes Croix Milhas NV (88 points, $15)
WS Review: This sweetie offers refreshing acidity that binds the tangerine, lychee and rose water flavors, detailed with floral, honey and almond details. Drink now through 2024. 50,000 cases made, 2,000 cases imported. From France.—Gillian Sciaretta

There are a few ways to go when it comes to Valentine’s Day desserts. You could pick crumbly fruit tarts, a bright sorbet or maybe something nuttier like almond cake. Whichever one you choose, you’ll find a delicious pairing in this vin doux naturel, a dessert-style fortified wine from France’s Roussillon region.

Vignerons Catalans’ Muscat de Riversaltes bursts with tropical fruit, almond and rose flavors, all backed by refreshing acidity and sweetness. While it can easily be enjoyed as an aperitif, it shines as a food pairing. Early in the meal, you can pour it alongside foie gras (a favorite for Roussillon locals) or bold cheeses. Or pour it later on, making its sumptuous flavors an exciting finish to your romantic dinner.—G.S.

Related recipes:
Fresh Strawberry Tart
Wild Berry Tart with Almond Frangipane and Oatmeal Streusel

Wine Spectator website members:
Find more recently rated wines from Languedoc and Roussillon

Chocolate cream pie with whipped cream and white chocolate topping
Tawny Port makes a great match for chocolate cream pie. (Andrew McCaul)

Port and Chocolate

Wine pick: NIEPOORT Tawny Port 10 Years Old NV (91 points, $48)
WS Review: A charming style, with pretty dried cherry, bergamot and warm fruit cake flavors forming an expressive and inviting core. On the sweeter side of the spectrum, but with the freshness for balance. Drink now. From Portugal.—J.M.

Two of my greatest loves don’t get along: wine and chocolate. It’s mostly chocolate’s fault, being so palate-coating. And it has powerful flavors and tannic grip that can make wine seem cloying or metallic. One way to make chocolate play nice is to make it into a dessert, as it will pair better if it’s sweeter or creamier.

Chef Hedy Goldsmith was at Wine Spectator Award of Excellence winner Michael’s Genuine in Miami when she shared her chocolate cream pie recipe for our Perfect Match feature. The pie is rich and straightforward, and doesn’t require frou-frou ingredients or plate painting. Goldsmith and her sommelier at the time, Eric Larkee, chose to pair it with a tawny Port, which makes sense. You want the wine pairing to be bold and sweet enough to stand up to the chocolate cream. She specifically recommends this Niepoort bottling for its toffee and caramel flavors, preferring these over fruit notes.—Owen Dugan

Recipe: Chocolate Cream Pie

Wine Spectator website members:
Find more recently rated Ports

Recipes Chocolate Fortified Wines Holidays / Celebrations Pairings Sparkling Wines Valentine's Day Sweet Wines Pinot Noir

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