Wine Time: Wine and dine your Valentine

February 4, 2013 

We were recently enjoying an incredible wine when one of us said, “This would be a perfect wine for Valentine’s Day.”

We both perked up and as the conversation continued on, we decided to put together a Valentine’s Day dinner. But instead of pairing a wine to the food, since this wine was so good, we’d construct a meal to pair it. We challenged one another to come up with the proper accompaniments.

We decided Marie would provide an entree recipe, and Jim would tackle dessert. Here’s what we’ve come up with.

The wine

The wine is Belle Glos Pinot Noir 2011 from Santa Maria Valley, Clark & Telephone Vineyard in Santa Barbara County, Calif. The 2010 vintage of this wine was rated as one of the top 100 wines of the year by Wine Spectator. We think the 2011 is ever better.

The vineyard was planted on its own roots in 1972 with the Martini clone, which is an heirloom clone known for its brown spice notes of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. The vineyard is cooled by maritime breezes from the Pacific Ocean that flow ashore along the Santa Maria River. Heavy pruning and crop-thinning of the clusters produce fruit with concentrated flavors.

This isn’t your typical Pinot Noir. The wine is fully extracted with a deep purple color unlike the cherry red of most pinots. It has a vibrant nose of the aforementioned brown spices with flavors of cranberry and dark berries that really come alive mid palate. The flavors are very pronounced and well layered with a long finish. There’s a lot going on with this wine and the viscosity makes the flavors dance in your mouth. The bottle itself is dramatic. It has a wax seal that covers the top down almost to the front label.

The bottle itself is dramatic. It has a wax seal that covers the top down almost to the front label.

Santa Maria is nestled between Los Olivos and Arroyo Grande. Land is more affordable here than in some more well-known California locations, hence the price is less than what you’d pay for a Pinot Noir from Carneros, or the Russian River Valley. The suggested retail price for this wine is $44. While that isn’t inexpensive, it’s affordable for a wine of this quality, especially when you plan to share it with someone you love.

The entree

Marie came up with several good ideas for entrees. The dramatic flavors of this wine make it versatile enough to work well with a number of dishes. Duck with a strawberry or cherry sauces were close contenders, but in the end she chose lamb chop.

Marie’s Lovely Lamb Chops

4 lamb chops

2 Tbs. lemon olive oil

1 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil

1 Tbs. rosemary, chopped

Juice of 1 Meyer lemon

1 clove garlic, minced

Mix lemon olive oil, garlic, rosemary and lemon juice in a small bowl. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Brush the lamb chops with the lemon mixture. (Save enough to serve as a sauce for the chops.) Cook until desired doneness (rare to medium; rare is suggested). Serve with the remaining sauce on the side.

The dessert

After a bit of contemplation Jim came up with the idea the proper dessert should include a number of textures and flavors to compliment the velvety mouthfeel of the wine. The conclusion: Black Forest Cake.

Good Black Forest Cake is a marriage of layers of chocolate sponge cake, kirsch-soaked cherries and whipped cream. It will make a wonderful finale. Our favorite Black Forest Cake comes from the Swarez bakery in the Park Road shopping center.

We tried out the meal and were very happy with it. Hopefully, if you try it, you’ll enjoy it as well. The one component that will make it even better is to enjoy it with your loved one on Valentine’s Day in front of a fire in the fireplace.

Jim and Marie Oskins live in the Lake Wylie area. For questions about wine or food pairings, email

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