FMN – 2022 – Sexy Wines for Valentines Day

It is, indeed, hard to believe that February has already arrived and, with it, the responsibility of Valentine’s Day. We just finished taking decorations down, lugging the tree out and paying for all the gift-giving and yet another holiday looms around the corner.  Fret not my obliviously infatuated wine gluggers I will guide you through this relationship mongering holiday with some unique ideas, sound relationship advice and plenty of sexy wine choices.

I imagine we must first delve into what defines a “sexy” wine. Like the preferences we have for our hedonistic choices, sexy is a “relative” term (And I put relative firmly in quotes). For me, a wine becomes hauntingly beautiful when it unveils itself slowly, elegantly and always leaving more to the imagination, like a burlesque show. These wines are the antithesis of the “all at once” striptease wines. Granted they both have their place but one leaves you more intellectually stimulated than the other.

Although I love all sparkling wines, there is something about the “Traditional Method” wines that tickle my fancy. During the process, the expired yeast resting in the bottle releases mannoproteins, giving more mouth-feel and Mallard aromatics (biscuit dough, baked bread, brioche). These aromas combined with those from the grape varieties give a sensuous dance of goodness on your palate.  Sparkling wine is always a great way to begin the evening and may even improve your chances.

Finding just one wine for an evening remains difficult for me so I find myself walking the aisles until something speaks to me. In this case, I was stricken by the seducing call of the Sauvignon Blanc grape. Let me specify, not just any Sauvignon Blanc, but that which is produced along the left bank of the Loire River, Sancerre. It is difficult to specify if the sexiness manifested from the fact that the wine is French or more related to the racy acidity and flinty, steely minerality that this wine possesses. Either way this Loire Valley treat remains one of the most distinct white wines in the world.

Maybe, for your liking, sexy has more of a tint to it. I certainly agree and oblige as I do not harbor any consumption discrimination. Although there are many “lighter” style reds that I love, I find myself always drawn back to Pinot Noir. This is the variety that keeps winemakers up at night with its finicky nature. I admit enjoying Pinots from a myriad of regions around the world but only a few areas and winemakers have ever raised my eyebrow. The many personalities of Burgundian Pinot are interesting if not intriguing but my domestic choice remains in the Valley of Willamette. They seem to capture the earthiness of noteworthy Burgundy and the ripeness of fruit found in Sonoma but layer it all on a brightly acidic mineral-touched backbone that is Willamette.

If your heart has not yet begun to flutter and are looking for something a little bolder and a little more old-world sexy then we look no further than the Piedmont of Italy. With the constant battle of climactic influences from the Alpine winds and warm Mediterranean air, the region itself may be one of the most beautiful in the world. Since, however, we cannot drink the view, we will turn to the premier grape of the region, Nebbiolo and its spiritual home, Barolo. Although these wines are light in color (due to thin skins), they can be powerfully tannic, incredibly complex and worth the wait to fully develop (maybe reminiscent of your significant other).

Although my sexy may be different from yours, keep in mind that many wines have supply issues and we have to go with what’s currently on the shelves. So, in a wine sense you may be looking for mister or miss “right” when all that’s available is mister or miss “right now”. This goes along with the old Navy saying, “Any port in a storm.” I hope your Valentines Day finds you happy, full of wine and safely docked at the port of your choice.


Suggested Wines:


Domaine Carneros by Taittinger Vintage 2017                   Carneros, Napa Valley – California                $34

The wine is composed of 53% Pinot Noir, 44% Chardonnay and 3% Pinot Gris, all coming from their six estate vineyards across Carneros. One first notices the small persistent bubbles and the golden color, a hint to its red grape component. The nose has over red fruit (crunch cherry), autolytic component (the brown crust on a fresh baked bread), orchard fruit (apple) and a tropical (honeydew rind). The bone-dry palate has caressing mousse from the bubbles, with intense red fruit (cherry), citrus (tangerine and blood orange), apple skin and citrus pith with a lingering yeasty bread dough finish. Pair with the start of a special evening, caviar on blini, or charcuterie.


Fournier Sancerre Cuvée ‘Les Belles Vignes’ 2019             Sancerre, Loire Valley – France                $38

On appearance, there is a marked viscosity with the swirling of the glass. The nose is overt with citrus fruit (lemon, lemon curd), orchard fruit (peach, peach blossom and pear) with a strong mountain-stream minerality. The palate is dry, medium plus viscous body, and a mouth-watering aggressive citric laden acidity. The palate mirrors the nose with a concentrated lemon and tangerine curd wrapped in a mineral core finish. Pair with anything containing goat cheese, raw clams or oysters or lighter grilled fish (trout). The structure of the acidity in this wine truly has it begging for food.


Montinore Estate Parson’s Ridge Pinot Noir 2016             Willamette Valley, Oregon – USA               $55

The color has a garnet element attesting to its age. The nose is overt with layers of complexity. There are aromas of ripe berry compote (raspberry, red currant, blackberry), earthy elements (forest floor, wet leaves, and fresh turned rich earth), pencil shavings, and sweet baking spice (cardamom, allspice). The palate is dry (with a slight perception of sweetness due to the ripeness of fruit), bright crunchy acidity, medium body, and slight perception of subtle fine-grained tannins on the tongue. The palate has the raspberry, red currant, earthiness and a slight pleasant brambly note.  This is what I would call a “contemplation wine”, exuding sexy elegance. Pair this with earthy mushroom or thyme infused dishes, pork tenderloin with berry sauces or quiet existentialistic reading.


Vietti Barolo Castiglione 2017                                                 Barolo, Piedmont – Italy                             $52

The wine is a medium garnet with subtle but complex aromatics of red fruit (kirsch cherry, elderberry), pitch (sweet tar), floral (violet), sweet baking spice (clove) and moist pipe tobacco in a cedar box. Again, this wine is dry but the nature of the fruit and the higher alcohol give it a perception of slight sweetness. The acidity is up front and lean with medium body and overt, mouth-drying grainy tannins felt mostly on the gums. The palate is slightly more subdued versus the nose. These wines either need long aging for tannin integration or foods to slightly tame the tannin structure. Pair this wine with braised beef, wild boar ragu, or lamb shanks.