Not this Sunday but next Sunday is Feb. 14 – that’s right – Valentine’s Day. Wine lovers ought to be thinking ahead and picking up a bottle of bubbly, now.
Valentine’s Day began as a celebration of one or more early Christian saints named Valentinus. Several martyrdom stories were invented for the various St.Valentines.
A popular tale maintained that St. Valentine was imprisoned for conducting weddings for soldiers (…who were forbidden to marry) and for ministering to Christians, who were persecuted under the Roman Empire.
Neither Christian nor Pagan but always a blend of strictly white grapes, and always Non-Vintage, the currently available Veuve du Vernay Brut Blanc de Blancs NV (209023) $13.20 from France is a blend of Chardonnay and Ugni Blanc. Aromas of pears and apples, vanilla, creamy hints of ‘lees’ with ginger and a hint of toasted nuts carry through into similar flavours.
Purportedly, during St. Valentine’s imprisonment, he healed the daughter of his jailer. This version of the legend states that before his execution he wrote her a letter signed “Your Valentine” as a farewell. Hallmark – the greeting card company – loves this tale!
Made in the Veneto region of Italy from Moscato grapes Mionetto Il Moscato (73932) $15.95 is lightly effervescent with aromas of honey and lavender with hints of ripe honeyed pear tangerine rind. On the spritzy tongue there are flavours of lemon sherbet and lightly jammy strawberries.
Saint Valentine’s Day is an official feast day in the Anglican Communion, as well as in the Lutheran Church. The Eastern Orthodox Church also celebrates Saint Valentine’s Day but on July 6 and July 30, in honour of the Roman Saint Valentine and Hieromartyr Valentine, the Bishop of what is Terni these days, northwest of Rome.
From Veneto, far northeast of Rome, Mascareri Prosecco (637595) $18.20 is an ode to the elite mask maker’s guild of Venice. Those who made the Venetian masks at the age of the Serenissima were the “Mascareri”, associated in the Arte dei Maschereri since 1436. Made entirely from Glera it features ripe golden apple, melon and pear flavours with hints of hazelnut and acacia blossoms and a touch of sweetness.
The day was first associated with romantic love by Geoffrey Chaucer in the Middle Ages, when the tradition of courtly love flourished. In 18th-century England, it evolved into an occasion in which lovers expressed their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering confectionery, and sending greeting cards.
Better than any greeting card Blue Mountain Gold Label Brut (471672) $22.60 is a very traditional blend of 56 per cent Pinot Noir, 39 per cent Chardonnay, five per cent Pinot Gris. Aged for 24 months in bottle, like actual legitimate Champagne it oozes an almost-sweet lemon core up front and a bone-dry, toasty finish.
In Europe, Saint Valentine’s Keys are given to lovers as a romantic symbol and an invitation to unlock the giver’s heart as well as to children, in order to ward off epilepsy which is known there as Saint Valentine’s Malady.
From Okanagan Falls, 8th Generation Integrity (561779) $23.50 is made from grapes grown by Peter Becker in Summerland and Ralph Suremann in Naramata.
A blend of 73 per cent Chardonnay 19 per cent Pinot Gris and seven per cent Gewürztraminer it overflows with aromas and flavours of peaches, honey and pineapple and more soft exotic fruit – an Okanagan take on Prosecco.
Valentine’s Day symbols include the hearts, doves, and – of course – the legendary winged Cupid.
Since the 19th century, handwritten valentines have given way to mass-produced greeting cards. Just ask Hallmark.
Also from the Okanagan Valley, Fizzio Therapy (690024) $24.10 it’s a brilliant blend of Chardonnay with a dash of Orange Muscat. Light in colour but full of flavour this sparkling wine has aromas of peaches, stone fruit and granny smith applesin, a just barely off-dry style.
The first mass-produced valentines of embossed paper lace were produced and sold in the US shortly after 1847 by Esther Howland.
She took her inspiration from an English Valentine she had received from a business associate of her father.
Intrigued with the idea of making similar valentines, Howland began her business by importing paper lace and floral decorations from England.
But don’t forget to pick up a bottle of sparkling wine!
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