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Valentine's Day Wines 

Choice wines and tastings for Valentine's Day

click to enlarge CUTE! With its own straw, the Sofia-in-a-can says, "I'd love a hike-and-picnic date." - ELIZABETH SEWARD
  • Elizabeth Seward
  • CUTE! With its own straw, the Sofia-in-a-can says, "I'd love a hike-and-picnic date."

On the untenable premise that all things pink and/or bubbly would be a welcome treat on everybody's favorite and/or despised February holiday, here's a small sample of eye-catching, pink and/or bubbly wines. Of course, you can't go wrong with a good red wine—unlike, say, flowers and chocolates. Who knew? Yeah, it hurts when you go wrong with flowers and chocolates. Wines were not blind tasted; they were drunk alone, in the dark with the shades drawn.

From a sparkling house with an austere rep, the deep pink 2006 Iron Horse Brut Rosé ($50) has unexpectedly fruity, full cranberry and cherry flavors, a tart squeeze of lime and a lasting, delicious and dry finish. Recommended, especially with cheesecake.

J Vineyards Brut Rosé NV ($32) gets points for presentation: that simple swoop over salmon-egg pink. Clean aromas of ocean breeze, a hint of yeast; light guava fruit flavor over assertive bubbles. Try making crab cakes—a project made for two—to pair with this salty sparkler.

The Sofia 2010 Blanc de Blancs, Monterey County ($19) looks rosy in its pink cellophane gift-wrapping. But it's straw-yellow, with sweet, Muscat-like and Riesling-like honeysuckle aromas. First impressions are often correct: Francis Ford Coppola Winery says the blend has dashes of Muscat and Riesling, with the balance in Pinot Blanc. Very foamy, with sweet flavors of apple crisp, white raisin, offset by bitter herb. Save this über-girly bubble-potion for a baby shower populated with sweet-toothed aunties.

Nothing says "be mine" like wine in a can. Although the Sofia minis ($20 per four-pack, 187 ml cans) contain the same wine as the Blanc de Blancs, the cans tasted comparatively innocuous (although not put to a side-by-side comparison—alas, packaged in a shiny, metallic-red, hexagonal box, the little cans are just irresistible). With "bubbles" die-cut in the box for easy toting, and one short pink straw thoughtfully attached to each can, the handy Sofia says, "I'd love a hike-and-picnic date."

Gallons of ink have been spilled, billions of bytes squandered defending "dry rosé" against its treacly past, and now here comes a little problem called Sofia 2010 Rosé, Monterey County ($19). The sassy, curvy bottle promises unabashed sweetness, but dishes out dusty Pixy Stix aromas, and flavors of sour cherry, unripe pear. A nice enough, dry and tart sipper for warmer weather, perhaps, but for our purposes here, something of a tease.

J Vineyards & Winery features treats from Miette Pastry Shop on Saturday, Feb 11 (noon–4pm; 11447 Old Redwood Hwy., Healdsburg; 888.594.6326). Iron Horse Vineyards pairs chocolates with their Wedding Cuvée on Sunday, Feb. 12 (11am–1pm; 9786 Ross Station Road, Sebastopol; 707.887.1507). And Francis Ford Coppola Winery offers complimentary Sofia tastings on the big day, Feb. 14 (300 Via Archimedes, Geyserville; 707.857.1400).

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