As Valentine’s Day approaches, we suggest keeping things cozy and (very) close to home. Skip the frenzied restaurant with the endless two-tops wedged in close proximity, and cook or assemble a special meal. Take your celebration to the next level with a bottle of Pennsylvania wine.
We brainstormed a few fun dishes and local pairings with Mark Wolf, a wine specialist at Fine Wine & Good Spirits in Allentown.
Spaghetti and Meatballs
What could be more romantic than re-enacting the iconic scene from Lady & The Tramp? You can eat off your own plates, but only if you believe that love is dead.
Wolf suggests picking up a bottle of Pinnacle Ridge Winery Quaff, a slightly sweet red blend of Pinot Noir and Chambourcin. The winery calls it their “Pizza Wine.”
“You don’t want something too heavy,” says Wolf. “And you don’t want something too dry and tannic, so I think this wine fits the bill.”
Rib-eye Steak for Two
If you’re looking for something heartier, split a gorgeous rib-eye steak, seared hard on the outside, and then finished in the oven. Serve it with simple herb potatoes and a salad. Luxury was never so easy. To take it to the next level, crack open a bottle of Clover Hill Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon.
“With a rib-eye, you want something that’s big and bold,” says Wolf.
If you’re looking for something a little lighter, reach for Paradocx Vineyard Barn Red, a red blend.
Caviar & Traditional Garnishes
One of the hidden secrets of the supermarket is that you can often find delectable seafood treats that a restaurant would charge an arm-and-a-leg for. On Valentine’s Day, seek out a jar of affordable caviar and serve it with tiny blinis (pancake batter from the box will do) and creme fraiche.
According to Wolf, a bottle of Tolino Vineyards Lilly, a 50/50 split of Vidal Blanc and Pinot Grigio, is a wonderful companion for the briny delicacy.
Alaskan King Crab Legs
This one is another fun splurge — the dramatic pink legs come pre-steamed, so all you need to do is warm them up and serve with melted butter. You’re at home, so feel free to use your hands.
“I was on the fence so I picked two,” says Wolf. “Rosé and blush wines are so versatile — they can be a cocktail wine or a food wine — and they have enough body to stand up to rich flavors. Blue Mountain Vineyards Bri’s Blush can stand up to the melted butter. The other one I picked was the Pinnacle Ridge Winery Traminette. The grape is a hybrid of Gewurztraminer — that’s my favorite turkey wine. It’s not going to overpower the crab.”
Whole Roast Chicken
A perfect roast chicken is a dreamy way to show your love. Settle the bird on a bed of chopped vegetables, and then relax with a glass of wine while it cooks. If you want to shake it up a bit, rub the chicken with a blend of cinnamon and diced garlic.
“You can’t go wrong with Tolino Vineyards Chardonnay,” explains Wolf. “Most Chardonnays have a little bit of oak or they have a little bit of malolactic fermentation, which gives you that butteriness, that toastiness, which goes well with chicken.”
Ice Cream Sundae
Spending Valentine’s Day at home is about quality time, not slaving away in the kitchen. So for dessert, buy some beautiful local chocolates or serve what you know everyone really wants: ice cream sundaes. Top your beloved’s favorite flavor with hot fudge, roasted nuts, whipped cream, and a sprinkle of sea salt (trust us). No oven required.
“Tolino Vineyards Rad Red is a semi-sweet red,” suggests Wolf. “You need some kind of sweetness, especially since you’re having chocolate fudge. Port-style wines also go well with chocolate.”
“My other suggestion is Courtyard Winery‘s Chocopelli,” he continues. “This is a chocolate-flavored wine. There are also a lot of fruit wines that different PA wineries make. They’re not just sweet wines — you really get more of the fruit flavor in there. So if you’re doing a pineapple sundae, a cherry sundae, or a blueberry sauce, you could match up the fresh fruit with a fruit wine.”