Try Something Crisp, Pink or Bubbly

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Written and photographed by : Dan Radil (Dan the wine guy)

Eschew the traditional — and sometimes disastrous — combination of red wine and chocolate. After all, the high sugar level and fat content of this much-loved confection can often overwhelm the flavors of the wine.

This year, toss the truffles and try something completely different. Whites, rosés, and sparklers are not only crisper, lighter, and more “fun-in-the glass” wine choices, they’re often much more affordable than a big, overly bold Cabernet Sauvignon. That makes them a great alternative for those looking to give or serve wines for either sipping on their own or as part of a special dinner.

BUBBLES TO START

Start off the occasion with bubbles in your glass to add a festive touch and put everyone in a celebratory frame of mind. Sheridan, Ore.’s J Wrigley Vineyards Jubilation (about $24) is a
coral-hued, 100-percent sparkling Pinot Noir selection. Fresh red berry and cherry flavors are followed by earthy/ slate-like undertones and a zingy, citrusy finish.

Northeast Italy’s Carpenè Malvolti also offers plenty of sparkling wine options including the 1868 Extra Dry Prosecco Superiore (about $19). It displays aromas of yeasty, fresh-baked bread, flavors of green pear and Fuji apple, and a linen-crisp finish.

THINK PINK

And for bubbles in a pretty, pink shade, the Carpenè Malvolti Cuvée Brut (about $20) is practically unbeatable. This Italian sparkler explodes with red cherry and berry aromatics, and the fruity quality of the bouquet carries over to the palate with a lingering finish that’s both bright and creamy.

Another pink option from Italy is the Frescobaldi 2017 Alìe (about $25), a stunning rosé made primarily from Syrah grapes. Lovely floral aromas lead off, with layers of red berries, stone fruit, ruby red grapefruit, and lingering notes of minerality on the finish.

Husband and wife Kyle and Cassie Welch of Longship Cellars are doing an amazing job at their Richland winery and the 2017 Steel Dragon Riesling (about $17) is a great example of the quality wines they’re producing. Generous white peach and green apple flavors, steely minerality, and the perfect balance of gentle sweetness and laser-sharp acidity sum up this amazing wine. Another must-try current release — this one for rosé lovers — is Longship’s 2017 Wild Harvest Rosé (about $17), made entirely from Syrah grapes.

COOL AND CRISP

Uruguay may seem an unlikely source for wines, but this South American country is turning heads with a broad range of affordable choices that rival those from more popular wine regions in Argentina and Chile.

The vineyards of Uruguay’s Bodega Garzón benefit from the cooling influences of the nearby Atlantic Ocean, resulting in oftentimes higher-in-acidity wines that are crisp and lively.

Also notable is the Bodega Garzón 2018 Pinot Noir Rosé (about $22). The wine’s bouquet of wild strawberries combines with a splash of honeydew melon and cantaloupe flavors. A playful kiss of faintly sweet cotton candy on the finish makes it a perfect choice to taste on Valentine’s Day.

Then for something completely different, consider the Taylor Fladgate Chip Dry White Port (about $20) from Portugal’s Douro Valley. The “dry” feature of this unique wine is that the gentle, finishing note of sweetness is much less pronounced than what you might find on other Ports.

And don’t forget that the versatility of these wines extends well into spring and summer making great seafood-pairing wines.

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