Wine and food. Photo Jing:Creative Commons
Valentine’s is just an excuse to enjoy some fine and food pairings. Photo: Jing/Creative Commons

With Valentine’s Day coming up, we thought we’d ask some East Bay winemakers for suggestions on what to sip on what many would like us to believe is the most romantic day of the year. We also asked them what food they would pair with their wine selection — and, in a spirt of magnanimity, whether they could suggest a wine from another winery as well as one of their own. At NOSH, we believe every day is a good local wine day, and whether you’re paired up or flying solo Sunday, we hope you’ll take advantage of these recommendations.

Jeff Morgan, proprietor, Covenant Wines, Berkeley

Jeff in Covenant cellar low res
Jeff Morgan

What’s your choice of wine to drink on Valentine’s Day?

Bubbly is de rigueur, of course. And what would you pair it with to eat? It’s no accident that the great 18th-century Italian lover, Casanova, was partial to oysters. He ate his oysters washed down with copious amounts of l’oeil de perdrix — a salmon-hued sparkling wine.

Which one of your wines would you pick, and one from another winery? 

I would drink our Mensch White, which is a light, bright, fresh-tasting Roussane — ideally suited for culinary foreplay (aka appetizers!). If you can’t find any l’oeil de perdrix, a chilled glass of Mensch Roussane would do nicely.

Mensch White Roussane
Mensch White Roussane

What about food — would you head out or pair the wine with a dish prepared at home?

I’d make a beeline for the bar at A16 Rockridge, where bar manager Galen Brodsky knows how to make any couple feel oh-so-cozy with an eclectic selection of wines and spirits, all accompanied by delectable small bites like shigoku oysters with senise pepper mignonette, monterey bonito tartare, and gioia burrata with dragoncello, pistachio, olive oil, sea salt on crostini.

Covenant Wines, the only urban kosher winery in America, is located at 1102 Sixth St. in Berkeley. It takes bookings for its private tasting room.

Bob Rawson, proprietor, Urbano Cellars, Oakland

Robert Rawson
Robert Rawson

Which one of your wines would you pick for Valentine’s Day imbibing and what food would you pair it with? 

Urbano Cellars 2014 Viognier from Clements Hills with Oven Roasted Dungeness Crab with a Luscious Lip-Smacking Blood Orange Butter Sauce.

For Red wine we recommend Urbano Cellars 2013 Barbera from Lewis Ranch in Clements Hills. I would pair it with Soft and Light Pillows of Gnocchi with a Rich Creamy Gorgonzola Sauce.

Viognier Bottle
Urbano Cellars 2014 Viognier

How about a pick from another winery?

We’ll stay in California and go with Roederer Estate Brut paired with Kumamoto or Olympia Oysters and served with a Mignonette Sauce.

Urbano Cellars Winery is at 2323 B Fourth St., Berkeley, CA 94710.

Margaret and Charlie Dollbaum, co-proprietors, Carica Wines

Charlie Dollbaum
Charlie Dollbaum

What’s your choice of wine to drink on Valentine’s Day?

Let the Siren tempt you on Valentine’s Day. Start the evening by pouring your Valentine a glass of the Siren, a lush and lively Rhône-style red blend made in the East Bay by small, family-owned Carica Wines. With an aroma of cherries, and flavors of blackberry, plums, and a peppery finish, this classic blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre delights all the senses. (Carica 2010 Siren, Rhone-style red blend, Kick Ranch, Sonoma County, $32 per bottle.)

What might you pair with that at a restaurant?

With the Siren, we recommend the luscious lamb chop Chef Ilya plates at The Barrel Room Oakland on College Ave., or the quinoa salad with duck and roasted butternut squash at Bocanova in Jack London Square, or the lamb meatballs with marinara and arugula at Rockridge’s Toast Kitchen + Bar.

How about if you’re eating in?

Carica Petite Sirah label

Carica Petite Sirah and chocolate truffles! Local author and chocolate wizard Alice Medrich explains everything you need to know about making your own sumptuous treats. Add a drop of lavender oil to the batch if you feel like it. Come Valentine’s Day, open a bottle of deeply dark, densely fruity Petite Sirah, and let this classic combination help you celebrate love. (Carica 2010 Petite Sirah, Kick Ranch, Sonoma County, $36 per bottle.)

Carica Wines is at 1325 Canal Blvd., Point Richmond, CA 94804. Tasting room open starting Saturday, March 5 , 12 noon to 6 p.m. Wines are for sale directly from the winery. Dial 415.902-7514 to order.

Shauna Rosenblum, proprietor, Rock Wall Wine Co.

Shauna Rosenblaum. Photo: Rock Wall Wine Co.
Shauna Rosenblaum. Photo: Rock Wall Wine Co.

What’s your choice of wine to drink on Valentine’s Day, and what do you suggest eating with it?

Valentines’s Day is all about celebration, so what better to pair than bubbles?! And since the season is upon us… these pairings are with Girl Scout cookies!

The Rock Wall Wine Company Sparkling Blanc de Blancs pairs beautifully with the classic Shortbread cookie. The simplicity of the shortbread with the light nuances of honeysuckle and orange blossom from the Blanc is delightful. Plus, the bright acidity from the bubbles cuts right through the butter from the  shortbread.

Rock Wall Wine Company Sparkling Blanc de Blancs

If Rosé is more your speed, our Sparkling Grenache Rosé totally rocks with the Samoa cookies (you know, the coconut and chocolate striped ones). This combo is super refreshing. The coconut and chocolate are very rich, and a sip of rose offers a juxtaposition of rose petal and strawberry rhubarb flavors with a bright crisp finish.

The other fun thing about these pairings is its not mandatory that this is with your Valentine. Bubbles can be shared with your homies for a fun pre-game to your Valentines festivities with your honey.

If you’re curious about these pairings, we are having an awesome celebration of love called Viva Amore on Friday, Feb. 12 from 8 p.m.-11 p.m.. These Girl Scout cookie pairings will be available to exploreHappy Valentine’s Day!

Rock Wall Wine Company is 2301 Monarch St., Alameda, CA 94501. Read more about them on NOSH. 

Mike Dashe, proprietor, Dashe Cellars

Mike Dashe use
Mike Dashe

What’s your choice of wine to drink on Valentine’s Day?

Dashe zin
Dashe Cellars 2014 Late Harvest Zinfandel

Dashe Cellars 2014 Late Harvest Zinfandel is made from grapes grown on the Lily Hill Vineyard, owned by Bella Winery in northern Dry Creek Valley. The steep slopes and rocky soil at Bella make the vines struggle to survive, which in turn help the vines create very concentrated, complex grapes. One of the reasons that we love this vineyard is the wonderful acidity of the grapes. Even when we wait an extra four weeks to harvest the grapes for their sweetness, the grapes maintain their acidity. The resulting wine is focused and clear — it’s never cloying, and always finishes with a crisp, clean, sweet-spicy note.

What might you pair with the wine to eat?

The Late Harvest Zinfandel takes the chocolate and red wine pairing to another level. The acid on the finish leaves your mouth tasting berries and cacao. What could be more romantic?

Dashe Cellars‘ winery and tasting room is at 55 Fourth St., Oakland 94607.

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Tracey Taylor is co-founder of Berkeleyside and co-founder and editorial director of Cityside, the nonprofit parent to Berkeleyside and The Oaklandside. Before launching Berkeleyside, Tracey wrote for...