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TASTING NOTES: Wine for Valentine’s or any time

Haywire 2012 ‘Pink Bub’ | Okanagan Valley, BC | $25 | Winery Direct/Private Stores - Submitted
Haywire 2012 ‘Pink Bub’ | Okanagan Valley, BC | $25 | Winery Direct/Private Stores
— image credit: Submitted

So, what exactly constitutes a good Valentine’s Day wine?

As I started going through some recent notes and bottles, I contemplated the absurdity of designating one wine more romantic than another.

Sparkling wines are an obvious go-to when conjuring images of starry-eyed dinners, or perhaps cinnamon-scented reds as a fireplace is cozied-up to.

I’m gonna let you in on a little secret. While this week’s wines should suit Valentine’s Day perfectly, they’d be just as delicious if it were Halloween. Make the most of them and enjoy each bottle from start to finish, whether February 14th is your favourite day of the year, or it’s just an idle Friday for you.

Taittinger Brut Champagne | Reims, Francs | $40+ / 375 ml | Private Wine Stores
I love that this comes in a half-bottle. This means that you don’t have to commit to more than a couple glasses, although it could also mean that you buy two and then drink ’em like bottles of beer. I’m not going to confirm or deny that I’ve ever done this. What do you get in these adorable little packages? Aromatics of fresh-baked pretzel buns (Yup!), leading to apple cider, apricots and a very long finish.

Haywire 2012 ‘Pink Bub’ | Okanagan Valley, BC | $25 | Winery Direct/Private Stores
Winemaker Michael Bartier blends Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in this sparkler, finished off with a splash of fresh Syrah for a tiny pinch of sweetness. Pink peppercorns galore entertain raspberries, a splash of cranberry and a spark of peppermint. Coming soon to stores, but for now it’s available via

Michel Gros 2011 Hautes Cotes-de-Nuits | Burgundy, France | $44.99 | BC Liquor Stores
The fruit from this velvety, slick Pinot Noir comes from an 11 hectare Burgundian stretch that offers a good dose of limestone, giving the wine’s silky red and black berry fruit a clean expression of the region’s minerality. The fruit is fairly compact, but will bloom further with every swirl of your glass.

Tinhorn Creek 2010 ‘Oldfield Series’ 2Bench Red | Okanagan Valley, BC | $29.99 | Winery Direct/Private Stores
This blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot fully integrated amidst 18 months of French oak aging, resulting in a confident Southern Okanagan take on Bordeaux. What a well-suited homage to winery’s 20th anniversary! While the wine is by no means shy, the roasted red bell pepper and meaty flavours sail through a host of subtle herb and spice elements, allowing them to hit all the right notes.

Lange Twins 2010 Zinfandel | Lodi, California | $18.99 | BC Liquor Stores
There’s nothing wrong with an ultra-ripe red that has a good dose of alcohol, as long as things are nice and balanced. This purple, juicy monster lays on plenty of mocha notes, but its saviour is decent acidity and a finish that’s not too cloying. My preference is generally softer, lighter reds but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t top up my glass more than once.


Perfect Pairings:

Kurtis Kolt teams up with Loblaw’s City Market

It’s a new year and Outlook wine columnist Kurtis Kolt is hunting the aisles of North Van’s Loblaw’s City Market in search of the perfect pairings to go along with his weekly wine picks.

Now, let’s get pairing:

I’d think that when you’re popping a sparkling wine, such as this week’s Taittinger Brut Champagne or Haywire 2012 ‘Pink Bub,’ it would almost be sacrilege not to enjoy a little artisan cheese along with it. You don’t have to stray too far, either. British Columbia’s very own gold medal-winning Natural Pastures Comox Brie has a nice, citrusy component that will hit each wine well, but the pairing art is in its rich, creamy texture, which will be livened up with each palate-refreshing sip. Staying local, Salt Spring Island’s ‘Ruckles’ Soft Goat Cheese with Garlic and Herbs should step up for many of the same reasons.

I always like to assure people that just because you’re looking for a food match for something slightly higher-end like Michel Gros 2011 Hautes Cotes-de-Nuits, you don’t necessarily need to go fancy – as long as what you’re pairing up is made with integrity from quality ingredients. The Happy Planet Indian Split Pea Soup with plum tomatoes and coriander is made from organic ingredient and is only lightly curried, so you don’t have to worry about too much heat getting in the way of the wine’s more elegant nuances. There’s an earthy character to both the soup and the Pinot Noir, and that coriander will chime along with the wine’s minerality.

With bigger, juicer wines like Tinhorn Creek’s 2010 ‘Oldfield Series’ 2Bench Red or Lange Twins 2010 Zinfandel, I always like to go big and hearty with a good burger. Even if you’re vegetarian or just not feeling that carnivorous this week, things like Yves Veggie Burgers or grilled PC Organics Portobello Mushrooms, loaded up with all the fixings, will have you smacking your chops in no time.


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