021418_valentine wines

Mark Gagliano, wine consultant at Harris Teeter, Tom Delaney, owner and chef at Delaney’s Restaurant, stand by the bar at Delaney’s Restaurant on St. Simons Island.

Bobby Haven

It’s Valentine’s Day and love is officially in the air. It’s an occasion where couples around the world proclaim their adoration for one another. Some show it with flowers, others with chocolate. And then there are those who voice it with the vino.

There’s nothing quite like a quality bottle of wine to celebrate any occasion and Valentine’s Day is certainly no exception.

Whether couples choose a night out on the town or a cozy evening in, wines can really add a lot to a romantic evening. It is something that Tom Delaney, owner and chef at Delaney’s Restaurant on St. Simons Island, understands well. He makes it his priority to customize his wine list with a selection that pairs with many plates while pleasing a variety of palates.

Like Delaney, Mark Gagliano, wine consultant at Harris Teeter, also makes it his business to help customers find the best fit when it comes to wine. The two, who often collaborate, enjoy sharing their expertise and they have some helpful hints for those looking to spice up their Valentine’s Day.

“Tom, being the chef, he likes the more traditional stuff and he’s always thinking about what you’re going to be eating,” Gaglino said.

One of Delaney’s favorites to recommend is a Chablis from Burgundy, which pairs nicely with seafood or pasta. While that may be an obvious choice, Delaney also helps them work through a trickier match, a wine that pairs both steak and seafood together.

The surf and turf is a popular dish at the restaurant and he suggests a solid pinot noir to accompany it. One brand he favors is called Etude from Sonoma, which retails for around $35 per bottle.

For his part, Gagliano likes adding a few bubbles to a Valentine’s Day dinner.

“Sparkling wine is a celebratory type of thing and the one that is all the rage right now is Prosecco. It outsells Champagne and it’s not as dry, so it appeals to everybody. It’s a little safer bet. One of the best that isn’t very expensive is called Di Paolo,” he said.

“Another that does well at the store is from New Mexico and it is called Gruet. The family that owns the winery are friends with the Jones (family that formerly owned Sea Island), so it does particularly well here.”

For a bit of a twist on that idea, Gagliano recommends a semi-sweet, fizzy rosé.

“It is pink so it’s great for Valentine’s Day and it goes great with the chocolate covered strawberries that we have in the store. It tends to be a big hit,” he said.

Of course, a standard rosé— minus the bubbles — is also a good choice.

“Some that have really caught on are Hogwash and Whispering Angel,” he said. “And of course, again, they are pink which is perfect for Valentine’s Day.”

Like Gagliano, Ruth Ryberg also finds pink and bubbly bottles perfect for couples to share. The certified sommelier at JPs Spirits and Wines in Brunswick has also been pointing patrons toward festive sparklers for the occasion.

“J.P. Chenet is a rosé sparkler from France, which is $8. It’s got a really nice flavor with bright cherry, fruit and little pink grapefruit,” she said. “There’s a touch of sweetness but it’s very refreshing and very pink.”

Another Cupid-approved choice, she said, is a pinot noir called Love Noir. It features flavors that include cherries, cinnamon and clove.

“It’s $9.99 and is from California,” she said.

For those who are willing to spend a little more, Ryberg says that a big blend called Maximus certainly fits the bill.

“This is for the people who are a little more serious,” she said with a laugh. “The bottle calls it a ‘feasting wine’ and it’s made by Bennett Lane in Napa, Calif. The flavors are dark cherry, dark raspberries, granite, cigar box and dusty earth. It’s $34.99.”

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