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Celebrating Valentine's Day

With Valentine’s Day almost upon us, flower and candy shops, jewelry stores and the wine and spirits industry are bedazzling us with an array of red and pink treats. Ah yes, Valentine’s Day is the one day of the year that we make a point of celebrating romance, love and friendship by expressing our affection with cards, gifts and special dinners.

Personally speaking, I think we should be celebrating each other and ourselves every day! By now, you know that I’m a big proponent of “just because” when it comes to opening a bottle of wine. And that philosophy extends to buying flowers, jewelry and candy! For me, it’s the unexpected gesture of love and friendship that is the most meaningful, not because a holiday dictates it. And yes, I admit that I have on rare occasions gone overboard in celebrating Valentine’s Day. At heart, I am a hopeless romantic.

Whether it’s Valentine’s Day or a “just because” day, pick up some fun treats and open up a bottle of rosé, sparkling or still wine that you’ve never tried before.

Photo credit: Penny Weiss

To start your Valentine festivities this is the “perfect pairing” of wine and cheese.

Photo credit: Penny Weiss

Having just returned from Piedmont, Lombardy and Veneto where I indulged in sparkling wine and out of this world cheese, I was excited to receive a sampling of Garda DOC Spumante wine and Piave DOP cheese upon my return home. Pairing these two makes so much sense when you think about how Piave DOP is surrounded by sparkling wine production.

Garda DOC is made up of ten historic appellations located along the western shore of Lake Garda, the largest lake in Italy. As you can see from the map below, Garda DOC is partially in Lombardy and then continues on to a small area in Veneto. 

These sparkling wines are produced in both the Metodo Classico and Charmat method and range in style from Brut Nature to Demi-Sec. The Consorzio Garda DOC was founded in 1996 to protect the value of the wines and to ensure that all rules of production are followed.

Cantina Di Custoza Spumante Extra Dry, Garda DOC 2018
This wine opens with delightful floral and fruit aromas that lead to a palate of fine bubbles with notes of pear, peach, honeysuckle and minerality. It is light and refreshing! The gentle fruit and floral flavors of the wine combined with the nutty flavors of the cheese are divine.
Alcohol: 11.5%

Photo credit: Penny Weiss

Piave DOP is a hard, cooked curd cheese that is only produced from indigenous Italian cattle breeds in the Dolomites area of the Belluno province in Italy’s Veneto region.
The Consorzio Di Tutela Del Formaggio Piave was created in 2010 to protect from misuse or counterfeiting, in addition to making sure that all traditional production techniques are used. There are five different age classifications with aging being anywhere from 20 days to over 18 months.

Piave Fresco D.O.P. (20/60 days)
Piave Mezzano D.O.P. (61/180 days)
Piave Vecchio D.O.P. (>180 days)
Piave Vecchio Selezione Oro D.O.P. (>12 months)
Piave Vecchio Riserva D.O.P. (more than 18 months)

My cheese samples included:

Piave Medium (60/180 days)
This cheese has a straw-yellow color with a mild nutty flavor that imparts a nice creamy texture on the palate. 

Photo credit: Penny Weiss

Piave Vecchio Selezione (12 months)
The color of this cheese is dark yellow showing its age. This is a rich and smooth cheese with a pronounced walnut flavor and a hint of sweetness. 

Photo credit: Penny Weiss

Piave DOP cheese is delightful on its own or with sparkling wine. It also makes a great addition to recipes.

Here are a few more wines that I recently wrote about that will add a smile if not sparkle to your celebration.

Domaine Bousquet Brut NV Chardonnay /Pinot Noir
A delightful sparkling wine made with organic grapes sourced from the vineyards of Tupungato, Argentina. Beautiful aromas of citrus, apple and tropical notes segue onto the palate with hints of brioche and pear. Fine bubbles and a creamy mouthfeel add to a fresh and crisp treat.
Alcohol: 12.5%
SRP:  $13

Photo credit: Penny Weiss

Charles Heidsieck Brut Réserve NV
A golden color and fine bubbles lead to a complex and elegant nose of brioche, pear, white flowers and a hint of apricot and citrus. The palate is rich with white fruit, toast and tart baked apples, with hints of cherry, citrus, toasted nuts and vanilla. It has good acidity and a creamy texture with a long, lush finish.
Alcohol:  12%
SRP: $69

Photo credit: Penny Weiss

Pasqua Vigneti é Cantine PassioneSentimento Prosecco Treviso Spumante Brut, DOC
This Prosecco is quite aromatic with fresh fruit, pear and brioche. The palate offers pear, apple, a hint of slate and lemon zest on the finish. This is a fresh and balanced wine with tiny bubbles and lovely perlage.
Alcohol: 11%
SRP:  $16

Photo credit: Penny Weiss

Bibi Graetz Bollamatta Spumante IGT NV
This wine is soft pink in color with an abundance of fruit and floral on the nose. The palate offers strawberry, cherry, stone fruit, bread and citrus. Fine bubbles and crisp acidity make this a “crazily” refreshing wine!
Alcohol: 12.5%
SRP:  $26

Photo credit: Penny Weiss

Banfi Rosa Regale Brachetto D’Acqui DOCG 2019

This wine is made with 100% Brachetto and is produced using the Charmat method. This is a well-balanced sparkling wine with just the right amount of sweetness and acidity. Aromas of roses and red berries spill onto the palate with a refreshing and soft sparkle.
Alcohol: 7%

SRP:  $12 to $15

Photo credit: Penny Weiss

Domaine de Bila-Haut “Les Vignes” Pays d’Orc Rosé 2018
This coral-colored wine has subtle but inviting aromas of floral, citrus, red fruit and minerality. The palate offers a soft array of berries, rose, herbs, minerality and a hint of watermelon. This is a dry and refreshingly crisp wine with just a trace of citrus on the finish.
Alcohol:  12.5%
SRP:  $15

Photo credti: Penny Weiss

Cuvée de la Commanderie Rosé 2018 A.O.P. Côtes de Provence
This wine has a soft peach color with aromas of red berries, salinity and floral. The palate offers strawberry, raspberry, light citrus, salinity and crisp acidity. This is a dry and complex wine that displays elegance and freshness with savory taking the lead over fruit.
Alcohol:  12.5%
SRP:  $20

Photo credit: Penny Weiss

As I like to say every year, “whether you’re celebrating Valentine’s Day with loved ones, friends, family or just want to celebrate “you”, go ahead and indulge! Eat champagne truffles and pop open a bottle of wine!”

Until next time…


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