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Wine expert Leslie Sbrocco and chef Ryan Scott are stopping by the TODAY kitchen to help take the pressure off Valentine's Day dinner. They're sharing their most impressive recipes and perfect wine pairings to create a memorable meal on Valentine's Day for that special someone special or a group of friends. The irresistible recipes are designed to delight the senses and the wine options — from steal to splurge — are sure to make Cupid smile. And with the exception of a sweet white, this is a holiday for pink and red!
Bubbly to begin
J Vineyards & Winery Brut Rosé, Russian River Valley, California, $40, J Vineyards & Winery
A pink to indulge your Valentine. As one of the country's top sparkling wine producers, J Vineyards crafts bubbly to rival the best from around the globe. Their elegant Brut Rosé from winemaker, Nicole Hitchcock, is a blend of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Meunier grapes from California's Russian River Valley. Vibrant and juicy, it's a pairing for spicy or salty dishes.
Finger food is inherently romantic, and the slightly spicy and sweet notes of this recipe are sure to get your taste buds tingling. Plus, since it's served room temp, it's perfect to make ahead so you don't have to worry about being stuck in the kitchen all night.
Cleto Chiarli Brut de Noir Rosé, Emilia-Romagna, Italy, $16, Chiarli
A pretty-in-pink sparkling that's worth twice the price. Stylishly packaged with fabulous fizz inside, it's ideal to share with friends or someone special. Made by the historic house of Chiarli founded in 1860, the wine is crafted mostly from red Grasparossa grapes grown in Italy's Emilia Romagna region. Red berry succulence is complemented with crispness making it ideal to pour day or night.
These blissful bites are the perfect easy, elegant and impressive appetizer. No one will suspect they only took 5 minutes to make!
TIP: For a swoon-worthy splurge, look to Rosé Champagne from France. Seek out two magnificent bottles sure to impress: From a 200-year-old, family-run house, Champagne Henriot Rosé is complex and classy. A coveted French bubbly newly introduced to the United States, Champagne Palmer & Co Rosé Réserve is sparkling seduction. Each bottle costs approximately $75.
Rich reds for romance
2015 Bellacosa Cabernet Sauvignon, North Coast, California, $25, Bellacosa Wine
Could there be a more aptly named wine for Valentine's Day? Bellacosa means 'beautiful thing' creating the perfect sentiment for uncorking a bottle this heart- filled holiday. Made with Cabernet Sauvignon grapes hailing from California's Napa Valley and Sonoma and Lake Counties, vintner Dan Cohn began the project to craft wines with flavor, character and affordability. That's a beautiful thing.
You can never say no to white wine butter sauce, and this one is seriously the best ever. Add the salty notes of the capers and sweetness of fresh scallops and you have a little bite of seafood heaven.
2017 Cusumano Nero D'Avola, Sicily, Italy, $12, Cusumano
Swathed in a rich red label and topped with a glass stopper, this is an impress-for- less wine you'll want to stock up on for Valentine's Day and beyond. A family affair, Cusumano winery is run by two brothers along with their father. Nero d'Avola is Sicily's signature red with fruit-driven flavors and a kick of peppery spice. It's a wine with freshness that pairs as easily with fish as it does chicken or meat dishes. An all-around winner.
When cooking for a special occasion, filet mignon really makes a statement. It is so tender and delicious, and really pairs well with the pesto and curried cauliflower for a yummy (and healthy) dinner option.
TIP: Red wine-stained teeth don't have to prevent you from kissing your Valentine. I discovered an easy remedy with Wine Nots. Just pop one of the effervescent tablets in your mouth and let it dissolve. Your teeth (and breath) are ready for Cupid's arrow. A box of 12 tablets costs $13.
Sweets for your sweet
Taylor Fladgate First Estate Reserve Port, Portugal, $20, Taylor Fladgate
When chocolate is on the menu, there's no better match than a sumptuous Port from Portugal. Taylor Fladgate is one of the icons of the wine business and this bottling pays homage to the house's history commemorating their first property purchase in 1744. Sweet berry flavors are balanced with racy vibrancy in a Port priced to please.
I love serving these warm, molten cakes with chocolate ice cream for that over-the-top chocolate dessert experience. These are also wonderful because they freeze easily for baking at a later date.
2014 Linden Late Harvest Petit Manseng, Virginia, $28 for a half bottle, Linden Vineyards
Virginia is the birthplace of wine in America and in my opinion, is one of the most exciting regions to explore. Not only is it a place to find world-class reds and Chardonnay, it's a go-to destination for unique whites made from a French white grape, Petit Manseng. Linden Vineyards is one of the state's superstars and winemaker, Jim Law, has created a sweet wine that nears perfection. Grapes are frozen and pressed to create this liquid gold. Sipping it is like biting into a ripe golden raisin with a pleasing ping of tartness. A stunner.
Strawberries with chocolate is so timeless (and effortless) for Valentines Day, you can't go wrong. Taking the time to cut the strawberries into roses adds that extra touch that your sweetheart will notice for sure.
TIP: Wondering how to pair wines with dessert? Think about color matching. Dark, rich reds match the intensity and smoothness of chocolate dishes while zesty, sweet whites with freshness complement the flavors of with fruit-based treats.
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