Chocolate & Wine 5

Nearly half of Americans are expected to celebrate Valentine’s Day with a special night out. If money is no object and the finest wines are available which vintage should you select?

Wine experts reveal what they will be sipping on Feb 14.

Richard Brierley, the head of wine sales in the Americas for Christie’s auction house, said he could opt for Champagne.

“I don’t want to be predictable and go down that Champagne route, but if I did, it would be Salon 1996. It is just exceptional, alluring, full of verve and there’s so much energy about it,” he said in an interview about one of the rarest champagnes which sells for as much as $250 a bottle.

If Champagne is not on the menu, Brierley’s other choice could be a Pinot Noir.

“I’ve always thought Pinot Noir is seductive. It’s just light and it has wonderful cherry aromas and since this has to do with romance, so it’s got to be French,” he explained.

“So we’re kind of in Burgundy. Yes! Charmes-Chambertin. That would be perfect. It has the feminine characteristics. It’s very perfumed, has a great nose like fireworks filled with cherries and raspberries. And underneath, its masculine with a strong, powerful earthy flavor.”

Wine consultant Doug Frost, who holds both a Master Sommelier and a Master of Wine title, took a more economical approach to Valentine’s Day.

“Sherry is such a great bargain, and unlike flowers, retailers don’t raise the price of it around Valentine’s Day,” he said.

“I’m talking about the sweet version of sherry: the sticky, gooey, deliciously sweet kind. In Spain, it’s customary to take a great sweet sherry and make a little hole in a bowl of ice cream and fill it with the cream sherry.

“But, since it’s Valentine’s Day, I think you might consider adding to the romance of the evening. I mean, there are other things that you can pour it over too.”

Leslie Sbrocco, author of “Wine for Women” and “The Simple & Savvy Wine Guide” enjoys pairing wines with food, so her choices are linked to specific foods.

She suggested a crisp Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand or a brut Champagne with oysters. For chocolate lovers a late bottled vintage port from Portugal or a sparkling Shiraz from Australia would be her pick. Both would make for passionate pairings.

Natalie Maclean, author of “Red, White and Drunk All Over,” who runs the http://www.nataliemaclean.com Web site, recommended Banyuls, a French dessert wine to accompany dark chocolates; Tokaji from Hungary for milk chocolates; an Amarone from Italy for bittersweet chocolates and for those strawberries dipped in chocolate — Ice Wine from Canada.

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