You can't screw up buying your date flowers, it's hard to screw up buying them chocolates, but it is very easy and pricey to screw up on wine selection. Whether you are having wine by itself or pairing it with food, it is beneficial to do some research into which wine will fit your palate and your budget. To make your research easier, the Gauntlet has consulted with some people who deal with wine on a day-to-day basis.
Michael Bigattini devoted his life to wine at a very young age. His career in wine has included serving at fine dining restaurants, being an employee at a still/sparkling wine house, becoming a wine rep, working for an award winning B.C. winery and hosting many shows including Wine Basics, Beer Basics and Vine to Wine. For the past six years Bigattini has worked at Calgary's Willow Park Wine and Spirits where he is the senior product consultant, teaches classes and makes appearances at special functions.
Graham Jordan is 21-year-old international business student who is also studying to be a sommelier (a trained wine steward). Jordan has been heavily involved in the wine business for four years and has almost finished his diploma with the Wine and Spirit Education Trust. His passion for wine has led him to travel through wine regions in France, Italy and California.
The Gauntlet's Andrew Sedor has worked under the wine teachings of Bigattini, Jordan and many others for the past year and has developed his own unique palate.
Torres Vina Esmeralda (white) [$13; Spain]
A blend of muscatel and gewurztaminer that is light fruity but has a backbone of acidity that makes you want to drink it all night long.
Goes with: Seafood, chicken, pasta with fresh herbs and olive oil. A great wine to drink all by itself.
Chateau Magnol (red) [$22; France]
A 50 per cent Cabernet Sauvignon, 50 per cent Merlot blend with really good fruit, really good acidity and not too heavy in tannin. An absolutely amazing Bordeaux for its price.
Goes with: Grilled meat, steak, burgers, sitting around drinking red wine.
Jose Maria Fonseca Domini (red) [$13; Portugal]
A deep rich red with a lot of flavour, good balance and is composed of the blend of the grapes that make up port, but made out dry. The wine is made in clay barrels, so it softens the bite but still keeps the freshness of the fruit without adding any oak taste.
Goes with: Short ribs, barbeque ribs, any meats with a lot of flavour.
Capcanes Mas Donis (red) [$19; Spain]
This wine has good fruit, and is very smooth going down. With notes of cherries, raspberries and earthy qualities it is a wine anyone can enjoy.
Goes with: Pork chops, spaghetti bolognese, most pastas.
Folonari Valpolicella Classico (red) [$16; Italy]
This is a fruit-driven wine that goes down almost too easily. Simple yet satisfying, with a fresh and fruity aroma.
Goes with: Pasta, pizza, red meat.
Peter Lehmann Barossa Shiraz (red) [$20; Australia]
Full-bodied with a good balance of fruit and tannin. A great Shiraz with a lot of flavor.
Goes with: Chicken, turkey, dark chocolate.
Nino Franco "Rustico" Prosecco (sparkling white) [$22; Italy]
It's smooth, yet fills your mouth with flavour and doesn't have a high acid finish like champagne. Tastes of sweet apple, pear and tropical fruit make this the perfect sparkling wine for Valentine's for wine connoisseurs or people who enjoy the odd glass.
Goes with: Most appetizers and Valentine's Day.
Urban Riesling (white) [$15; Germany]
A great wine if you're just getting into wine. A well-balanced white with peach pair and a lot of green apple flavour that suits anyone who likes their wine a bit sweeter.
Goes with: Chinese, pork and great to drink by itself.
Zenato Ripassa (red) [$23; Italy]
An extremely popular, easy-drinking, full-bodied red that has a soft-textured finish with raspberry and blackberry flavours.
Goes with: Grilled meats.