Valentine’s Surf and Turf with a Twist and Champagne Pairing #winePW

Wine Pairing Weekend Celebrates the Valentine’s Day

The theme for this month’s Wine Pairing Weekend (#WinePW) is Valentine’s Day. Perhaps it’s because I’m a romantic. Or perhaps because I’m a Leo, I like to “go big” for Valentine’s Day. And for my wife and I that special occasion meal often calls for  “Surf and Turf”

On my plate

Normally, when I’m doing a food and wine pairing post, I do my cooking the weekend before.  No such luck last weekend.  We were rippin’ and runnin’ all weekend.

I still wanted to do Surf and Turf worth of a special occasion meal, but I needed something that I could pull together on a weeknight. After doing some research on the world-wide web, I found a recipe for Whole Wheat Penne with Lobster and Bacon by Giada De Laurentiis.

The list of ingredients included lobster, bacon and heavy cream.  I’d say that qualifies for a special occasion meal! Plus, it had a 5-star review from 50+ reviews and total time to prepare was under an hour! 

Done and done!


The recipe is relatively easy to prepare.  The only changes I made to the recipe were to use 3/4 lb of bacon and pasta (I did substitute gluten-free pasta because that’s what was in the pantry) rather than a pound.


My wife and I both absolutely loved this dish!  It’s a 5-star recipe in my book.  It’s a nice twist on traditional surf and turf that delivers plenty of succulent seafood, immersed in a light, but creamy, smoky, bacon-y sauce.

Dim the lights.  Light the candles, play your favorite romantic music, and serve with a salad and your favorite Valentine’s dessert and you’ll be in for a gastro-romantic treat! 

We had seconds, and had to talk ourselves out of thirds.  And the dish was history the next day!

Oh’s a meal worthy of a special occasion!

In my glass

No wine engenders romance like champagne.  There are many famous quotes about love and romance. And quotes about champagne.  Surprisingly there are not a lot of quotes about them together.   My favorite is this…The feeling of friendship is like that of being comfortably filled with roast beef; love is like being enlivened with Champagne.” – Samuel Johnson.

Then there are the lyrics from this song sung by Billie Holiday – which are new to me…

You go to my head;And you linger like a haunting refrain
And I find you spinning ’round in my brain
Like the bubbles in a glass of champagne 

Yes, champagne, just like that special someone,  offers a je ne sais quoi.” that may defy mere words. It must be experienced. Is it any wonder champagne is in my glass on this most romantic of holidays? I chose the 2009 Pierre Brigandat Champagne Brut.

From the winery: …this is 100% Pinot Noir. It is a very powerful and complex wine. Tasting notes include pear, strawberry, more oyster shell-type minerality, brioche, intense aromatics, medium-weight, fine bead. On CellarTracker this wine is rated 92 points.


My tasting notes follow:

Very pale almost clear gold with a green tinge color and a tiny persistent bead, and pie crust, green apple, guava, and citrus zest aromas. On the palate it’s full-bodied, nuanced and well-balanced with zesty acidity and green apple, lemon-lime zest, guava, and a bit of pear flavors with an appealing vein of minerality! Highly recommended!

The Food and Wine Pairing

This was a good pairing. The champagne and the Surf & Turf found (mostly) peaceful coexistence. The lively acidity of the Champagne cut the richness of the dish a bit and cleansed the palate for the next bite.  It also played very well with the seafood. The bacon overwhelmed the champagne a bit though.  In retrospect, I think a rosé champagne would have been a better choice. Note: I had a bottle of Pinot Noir open, so I tried it the the dish, but to my palate it overwhelmed the seafood.

This was a good example of the challenge with pairing wine with Surf & Turf.  The Surf and the Turf seem to demand two completely different wines. One may not be able to find an acceptable compromise with one wine (thought I’d place my bet on either rosé champagne, or still rosé).

Have you found a successful Surf & Turf (traditional or otherwise?) and wine pairing?

For more Valentine’s Day inspiration, make sure to check out the rest of the wonderful food and wine pairings for served up during this week-long #WinePW celebration!

Jade from Tasting Pour:

Jeff from Food Wine Click Perfect Wine for a Sparkling Valentine’s Day Celebration

Nancy from Pull That Cork Shepherd’s Pie and Burgundy: A Cozy Valentine’s Day Pairing

Kirsten of The Armchair SommelierMy Squashy Valentine

Jennifer from Vino Travels Sparkle Your Valentine’s Day with Brachetto from the Roero with Demarie

David of Cooking Chat

Michelle from Rockin Red BlogValentine’s Day in the South of France with #WinePW

Sarah from Curious CuisiniereGougeres (French Cheese Puffs) and Blanquette de Limoux

Cindy from Grape Experiences:

Lori from Draceana WinesNeed a Valentine’s Wine? As You Wish.

Diana from Wine Pass shares – Valentine Risotto and Rich Chocolate Beet Cake with Brachetto d’Acqui

Valerie of Girls Gotta Drink A Moscato Food Pairing: Moscato for Breakfast Anyone?

Wendy from A Day in the Life on A FarmAsian Tuna and Noodles with Rodney Strong Pinot Noir

Camilla of Culinary Adventures with Camilla :

Christy from Confessions of a Culinary Diva:

And if you’re up early join us Saturday, February 13th at 11 am EST/8 PST for a live Twitter chatter using #WinePW to share your favorite Valentine’s Day Pairings.  And get ready for the March #winePW, where we will share our Open That Bottle Night experiences. Check out the upcoming and past Wine Pairing Weekend events on this page.

Billie Holiday – You Go To My Head – “You Go to My Head” is a 1938 popular song composed by J. Fred Coots with lyrics by Haven Gillespie.


Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, InstagramVivino and Delectablefor all things wine. As a wino with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers! This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Copyright 2016 ENOFYLZ Wine BlogAll rights reserved.

Romantic Wines For Your Sweetheart

Happy Sweetest Day! For the uninitiated…”Sweetest Day, dates back to 1922.  It was originally when a man by the name of Herbert Birch Kingston wanted to bring cheer to local orphans, elderly, homebound people and others he felt may feel a little “forgotten” during other holidays“.  It’s the third Saturday of October each year.  It has evolved into being a holiday associated with romantic gestures such as cards, flowers, chocolate, dinner dates, and of course, romantic wines!

I think of it as sort of Valentine’s Day – without all the pressure than can come with V-Day.  Why wait to V-day  to celebrate your love?

Whether your go out or stay in, here’s your handy guide to romantic wines!


February is here and romance is in the air; be it contrived and commercial or spontaneous and genuine! One of the things I love most about wine is how memories of wine can take you back to a time, a place, a person, or all of the above.

Here are my suggestions for evocatively romantic wines. There’s something for everyone with suggestions for bubbly, white, red, and dessert wines.

Couple at sunset with wine

Image courtesy of


 1. Gosset “Grand Reserve” Brut Champagne

Champagne and romance go hand in hand. This is an effusive, complex and exotic Champagne made with the traditional mix of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier, from two reserve vintages that contain a bit of Pinot Gris, Petit Meslier, and Arbanne, the latter two almost extinct grapes. It has stone fruit and brioche aromas with a long finish. While it’s great for toasting, it would also be a nice match for lighter fare like a salmon dinner.

2. 2008 Schramsberg Brut Rose

This sparkler from Napa Valley is a comely salmon color with a refined effervescence. It’s well balanced with aromas, and flavors of strawberries and cherries. This is a versatile sparkler that will add to the memories of that special home-cooked meal!

3. Rosa Regale

This is an off-dry slightly sweet sparkler from Brachetto D’Aqui (Piedmont) region of Italy. It appeals to the eye, and the palate with its gorgeous ruby color and aromas of roses and strawberries. It has a softer effervescence than typical sparkling wine. Not only will it shine as an aperitif, it could work throughout a meal including dessert, especially if that dessert is fruit-based like a raspberry tart, or chocolate dipped strawberries. I even enjoyed it with a chocolate truffle tart.


4. 2010 Merry Edwards Russian River Sauvignon Blanc

This is an opulent and stylish Sauvignon Blanc with enticing floral, melon, and stone-fruit aromas. In the mouth it’s rich, and well-balanced with stone-fruit, grapefruit, and citrus flavors. King Crab legs anyone?

5. 2009 Kistler Sonoma Mountain Chardonnay

This is a sublime full-bodied, but balanced Chardonnay that offers rich buttery-toasty brioche, stone fruit and subtle white flower aromas with peach and nectarine flavors, and a lingering finish.

6. Chateau Ste. Michelle Eroica

This is an alluring Riesling named for Beethoven’s Third Symphony. The wine is a collaboration between two of the world’s great Riesling producers, the Dr. Loosen estate from the Old World (Germany), and Chateau Ste Michelle of Washington State, from the New World. Sommeliers love this wine, and you will too, especially when paired with spicy fare.


 7. 2007 O’Brien Estate Seduction

This Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot exudes romance. It’s complex, and refined, yet powerful with aromas redolent of ripe dark fruits like plums and black cherries along with spices and interesting mocha notes.

8. 2009 Walter Hansel “South Slope Vineyard” Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir as has been described as “the most romantic of wines, with so voluptuous a perfume, so sweet an edge, and so powerful a punch that, like falling in love, they make the blood run hot and the soul wax embarrassingly poetic.” Sounds like romance to me!

This is a voluptuous intense Pinot with aromatic black cherry, raspberry, and rose petal aromas. On the palate it’s creamy and well-balanced with juicy dark black cherry and raspberry flavors and a long finish.

9. 2009 Turley Mead Ranch Zinfandel

This is a cool climate Zinfandel produced with grapes from a high elevation site on Atlas Peak in Napa Valley. It’s hedonistically creamy with ripe plum, and blackberry flavors, and a lingering finish. Zinfandels this good are irresistible — give in to your desire!


 10. 2001 Hétszölö Tokaji Aszu 6 Puttonyos

Tokaji is a legendary sweet wine produced in Hungary. How’s this for romance trivia? It’s believed that it was Tokaji that Hitler, and his bride Eva Braun consumed to celebrate their marriage in the bunker shortly before their deaths.

This is a decadent dessert wine. It’s a golden yellow color with vivid aromas of apricot and orange peel. On the palate, it’s viscous, and balanced with a harmonious streak of acidity, with intense apricot and orange flavors, a hint of minerality, and a long finish. Pair with caramelized desserts.

11. Rosenblum Cellars Desiree

This is a luscious blend of Zinfandel, Touriga Nacional, and Syrah fortified with Brandy, and infused with a bit of chocolate. It comes in a 375ml bottle and weighs in at 18% alcohol. The bottle has a lascivious red label, and of course, the name suggests desire. You’ll be enticed by the aromatic dark plum, and chocolate aromas, that flood your palate with sweet dark fruits and chocolate. Pair with that box of truffles, or drink by itself — if you dare.

12. Graham’s 20 Year Old Tawny Port

Port is always a sweet treat. This one is a dark orange color with a red hue and mildly nutty, caramel, roast coffee aromas that cut to cherry, and toffee flavors. Pair with milk chocolate, crème brulee, or blue cheese. Retails for around $50.

Looking to make it extra special? Get a bottle of Port from the vintage that marks an anniversary, birthday, or other special occasion! Look for top producers like Dow, Fonseca, Warre, Taylor and Graham’s.

I leave you with this French proverb… “In water one sees one’s own face; but in wine one beholds the heart of another.” Cheers and happy romancing!

This article was previously featured on 12 Most and is republished, by the author Martin Redmond

Valentine’s Day Weekend Starter – A Taste of Schramsberg Sparkling Wines!

Bubbles of rose sparkling wine.

Image via Wikipedia

My wife and I decided to have bubbly each Friday night last week.  As fate and a bit of planning would have it my favorite wine store K&L Wine Merchants was hosting Schramsberg Vineyards for a Friday Night tasting (the fate) to start the V-Day weekend, and we’d planned to take do a tour of the Schramsberg caves and tasting on Valentine’s Day.

Schramsberg is Napa’s second oldest winery (Charles Krug, established in 1861 was the first winery in Napa) according to Keith Hock, the winemaker.  It was established in 1862 (click here for a complete historical time line).

Overall impression

What struck me about all the wines was the creamy lingering mouth feel of the mousse (the bubbly foam). All the wines had medium to long finishes, and we dryish, if not dry with low Residual Sugar (“RS”), yet all were  fruity on the palate. The lasting impressions were the elegance of all the wines, and the diverse aromas of the wines which seem to be dominated by wonderful yeast, bread dough notes. With the exception of the NV (non-vintage) “Mirabelle” all are vintage sparklers.  I’m a fan!

Bubbly Tasting Tip: There are two things I look for when tasting sparkling wines as opposed to still wines, the first is visual.  I look for a steady stream of tiny bubbles.  The second is how does the mousse feel in my mouth (i.e., how effervescent is it) – Does it feel course or fine?  Is it voluminous, or meager? How long does it take to dissipate?

My tasting notes are as follows:

2006 Schramsberg Blanc de Noir Sparkling Wine – $29.99

90% Pinot Noir, 10% Chardonnay. Nose offers plenty of yeast, citrus, and bit of mustiness.  On the palate fantastic creamy mousse, with apple, and citrus flavors, very good acidity, a touch of minerality and a long finish. I’m a sucker for Blanc de Noir – My third favorite – but just barely! (1.17 g/100mL)

NV Schramsberg “Mirabelle” North Coast Rosé $19.99

53% Chardonnay, 47% Pinot Noir. On the nose red fruit, citrus, and yeast. On the palate strawberries, cherry, and zippy acidity. Medium finish.  I’ll definitely picking up a bottle or three of this one! (1.09 g/100mL)

2007 Schramsberg Brut Rosé Sparkling Wine $32.99

68% Pinot Noir, 32% Chardonnay. On the nose, yeast, bread dough, citrus and faint rose notes.  On the palate, creamy delicate mousse with, citrus, strawberries, and peach flavors.  Well balanced with crisp acidity. My favorite! (1.06 g/100mL).

2007 Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs Sparkling Wine $27.99

100% Chardonnay.  On the nose yeast with citrus, and apple notes.  On the palate citrus, and apple with touch of minerality, very good acidity.  Medium finish. (1.15 g/100mL)
2003 J Scram Brut Sparkling Wine $99.99

85% Chardonnay, 15% Pinot Noir.  Nose offers yeast,  honey, and citrus aromas.  On the palate citrus, and green apple. More full bodied than the previous 4 sparklers, with lengthy finish.  My second favorite! (1.2 g/100mL)
2006 Schramsberg Crémant Demi-Sec Sparkling Wine $29.99.

85% Flora, 15% Chardonnay.  Nose offers tropical fruit aromas, and banana bread dough.  On the palate orange, and peach flavors.  On the upper end of off-dry, with a pleasant clean sweetness. Rich, with a clean finish.  I really liked this one.  My mind immediately went to thoughts of what would I pair it with. The first thought that came to mind is spicy Asian food (Thai, or maybe Indian) But, it would work well on own after a meal if you want a touch of sweetness, or  paired with a not too sweet dessert like a panna cotta, it would be marvelous. (3.56 g/100mL)

Note: I wasn’t at all familiar with the Flora grape.  According to Schramsberg:

“Schramsberg made California’s first Crémant (French for “creamy”) in 1972. After rigorous study, our winemaking team chose the unique California grape named Flora (a cross of Sémillon and Gewürztraminer developed at UC Davis) to be the core component of this sparkling wine. Flora unites the fruit-forward character of Gewürztraminer with the strength and depth of Sémillon.”

The good news is that this is a great way to start our weekly bubbly pact! The bad news is that it’s going to be a challenge to top it;-)!

Look for more bubbly tasting notes in the coming weeks…Cheers, and Happy V-Day!