(by Greg Walter) Why does every holiday have to have the “perfect wine pairing?” Well, I guess it wouldn’t be a real holiday in this country unless we could figure out a way to sell bazillions of dollars in consumer goods on, around or about it.
OK, that was a little cynical and I apologize for that. I am writing this the day after my 49ers just about won the Super Bowl (an occasion about which by the way I must have read reference to hundreds of “perfect wine pairings” to accompany the Big Game). But the concept really is kind of absurd. Truthfully you should drink what you like to drink — what tastes good, what fits your budget and lifestyle — regardless of what someone like me, or some marketing company, thinks.
So, undoubtedly, you are hearing about the next “perfect wine pairing” opportunity: Valentine’s Day. Well, I am here to tell you that if you are really and truly concerned about which wine to pair with a box of chocolates, you have completely and utterly missed the point. I would also say that if Valentine’s Day is the only day of the year that you focus on demonstrating your love for your partner, you have other work to do in that area as well (and that falls under the purview of another columnist).
To me, the perfect wine for Valentine’s Day is whichever wine I am sharing with the person I love. And if I’m in love, that’s what I want to be doing every day anyway.
Wine can be a perfect enhancer of just about any social experience. It relaxes us; it helps us slow down and enjoy the people and situations we find ourselves in. It can transform any meal into a great meal. It can help us talk, and listen, to each other. Wine can add so much to a special occasion, but it also adds as much to a normal evening.
Whether we are sharing glasses of bubbly on the terrace at Gloria Ferrer, or sipping a great Pinot while cooking dinner, or relaxing on the couch in front of the fireplace or sitting on the balcony of an inn overlooking the coast at Mendocino, it’s the experience that counts. The shared experience. Wine is not the driver or the focus, the experience is. And that experience doesn’t have to be extravagant, but it does have to be something you do together.
So here’s my big recommendation for this Valentine’s Day. Use it as the day you start creating memorable experiences with the one you love. Come up with something simple but very meaningful. Enjoy it together. And then on February 15, do it again. Then repeat it frequently throughout the rest of the year.
Add flowers where appropriate.
As for my wine recommendation, think of the last wine the two of you really enjoyed; not because it was expensive or scored a “95,” but because it was part of a really great time. Go out and buy more of that wine and enjoy it more often.
As always, you can email me with questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Greg Walter, a Sonoma resident for more than 20 years, has been in wine and food publishing for more than 30 years, 15 of which were spent as a senior editor and later president of “Wine Spectator.” Today he writes the PinotReport newsletter (Pinotreport.com) and publishes books through his Carneros Press imprint (Carnerospress.com).