What To Drink, and Give, Now: Valentine’s Day

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, the mind turns to finding the perfect way to say I love you. Though jewelry is always sure to please; unique, personal gifts that speak directly to your sweetie mean everything, especially when that gift comes in a bottle. Here are a few ideas, some sent for editorial consideration.

Crushpad clients create their wine blend

Give him or her the ultimate gift: their own barrel of wine.  Crushpad allows you to do this. Housed in a state of the art facility in Sonoma, CA, Crushpad brings the excitement of making wine to the everyday guy or gal. If your sweetie (or you) has ever wanted to have the hands on experience of making wine from vine to bottle (i.e. finding the grapes, working a harvest, fermentation, choosing your barrels, designing a label, creating your blend and bottling your own wine) now you can. The best part? You chose your level of involvement. With a highly respected team on site at Crushpad, novice winemakers have the chance to learn the ins and outs of the business from experts, or take advantage of Crushpad’s knowledge and enjoy a more hands off approach while still enjoying the end result: a barrel all their own comprising of 25 cases of wine.  With vineyards ranging from the Central Coast of California to Sonoma and Napa to some of the finest in Bordeaux the land and varietal opportunities are divine, giving participants the chance to make their own Bordeaux blend from Margaux, Russian River Pinot Noir or Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa’s Stagecoach Vineyard.  Everything is included in barrel. The price ranges from $6,000 to about $12,000 each depending on the varietal and vineyard.  If your wine is good enough, they will help you with a plan on how to sell it publicly.

If giving the whole barrel is a bit much, a single bottle or two of special wine will also do the trick. Whether it be the first bottle of wine you had on your first date or a new find, wine is always a delicious choice, especially one with a story.

Like the story of Colby Red, a Cabernet Sauvignon based red wine blend from California. Its proceeds go to support charities which promote heart health, including The American Heart Association.  This wine was named after winemaker Daryl Groom’s son, Colby Rex Groom, who was born with Atrial Septal Defect, or essentially a hole in his heart.  After two intensive surgeries, Colby is now living a healthy life and the thankful family created this wine to give back for the help and support they have received.  Since its introduction last January, over $150,000 has been raised through the sale of the wine, with this year hoping to surpass this number and hit $250K with their fruit forward, luscious wine filled with cherry, blackberry and baking spices like cinnamon,  nutmeg and clove.  Among other retailers, Colby Red is sold at Walgreen’s locations throughout Dallas.

If your love is unyielding, never-ending and eternal, give a bottle that says so with Shafer 2008 Relentless, a blend of 75% Syrah and 25% Petit Sirah from the award-winning Shafer Vineyards in Napa Valley.  Inky reddish, purple in color, blending spice, smoke and earth together in a hearty, bold red wine.
Blackberry, blueberry, black plum and black cherry flavors open in the glass followed by hearty smoked meat, dried herbs, pepper and spice notes with a long finish.  An ideal food wine, pairing well with anything from grilled game, smoked lamb and braised beef.  Uncork the bottle a few hours before drinking to allow the wine to really open up to fully enjoy its richness.

The tango is one of the most seductive, romantic dances in the world and is the inspiration for a luscious, affordable Malbec from Argentina.  The “Caminada” is a slow and deliberate step taken while dancing the tango.  It is an essential part of the dance, and one that exudes both intention and passion.  Caminada Malbec is also a wine of great artistry, passion and intent with careful and precise dedication taken towards executing a delicious bottle of wine filled with cherry, toasted vanilla and spice.  The word passion is thrown around a lot when talking about wine, probably because it is such a personal statement from both the winemaker and the owner, which is often one and the same.

If your love is a paradox, then consider a bottle of Paraduxx.  Blending predominantly Zinfandel (68%) with Cabernet Sauvignon (24%) and a touch of Merlot and Cabernet Franc isn’t the norm in Napa Valley, but Paraduxx from Duckhorn Wine Company does just that.  Lush and abundant with bold fruit aromas of black cherry and strawberry jam followed by chocolate, cherry and molasses on the palate helps this wine end with a velvety smooth finish.

If your sweetie is more inclined to enjoy a cocktail over wine, consider spicing up the happy hour toast with one of the most versatile spirits available today, Elderflower liqueur, and St. Germain is the best. With hints of ripe stone fruit, citrus and white flowers without being overly sweet, the addition of St. Germain to traditional cocktails will please any palate.  The classic St. Germain Hummingbird cocktail adding a bit of the St. Germain to Brut Champagne and club soda; or Oak’s LOLita with Hendrick’s Gin, St. Germain, English cucumber and bitters.

If your sweetie has a sweet tooth for chocolate, consider a bottle of Van Gohg Dutch Chocolate or Rich Dark Chocolate Vodka.  The creamy taste of the Dutch Chocolate combines rich cocoa with layers of coffee and baked caramel.  The Rich Dark Chocolate, the newest flavor addition to the extensive line of Van Gogh vodkas inspired by the artist, has an earthier flavor combining dark cocoa with toasted spice and espresso with a lengthy chocolaty aftertaste.  Either will please your chocoholic, whether sipped on their own, added to your favorite cup of coffee, or made into a delicious cocktail, like the Vincent Swirl combining 2 ounces Van Gogh Rich Dark Chocolate with 1 oz. Van Gogh Vanilla Vodka, a splash of butterscotch Schnapps and a swirl of chocolate syrup; or the Chocolate Almond Kiss blending 1 oz Van Gogh Dutch Chocolate with 1 oz Hazelnut Liqueur and 1 oz Cream.

Scotch is always the go-to for my love, and he is a single malt man.  The Macallan is always a great choice for the scotch lover, whether it be the 10, 12, 18 or 30, the 18 is a particular favorite though with aromas of toasted almonds, oranges and caramel and a silky, smooth palate that makes this an easy sipper served neat or with a few cubes of ice.

If your fella prefers a good bottle of bourbon instead, consider giving the gift of a lifetime for a bourbon aficionado, a membership to join the Old300 with Garrison Brothers Distillery in the Hill Country. Made from organically grown Texas corn, the distillery is proud to be making artisanal, small-batch bourbon in the best place in the world, Texas, and has opened up an exclusive membership to allow others to be a part of it.  For $2000 up to 300 members will become ambassadors for the product, spreading the word about Garrison Brothers and Texas bourbon throughout the state.  Additionally, each ambassador will receive one hand selected barrel* and be educated on the art of bourbon making.
*TABC rules prohibit the company from actually providing the bourbon that was inside that barrel.

Cognac always exudes a sense of elegance to me, like sipping brandy from a snifter.  CAMUS is taking a bit of this edge off, making this luxurious drink more approachable to consumers throughout the world with their CAMUS VSOP Elegance.  Produced exclusively in the Cognac region of southwest France, the spirit undergoes strict regulation throughout its production, including aging regulations all in oak casks, watched over by the Bureau National Interprofessionel du Cognac. The V.S.O.P. is aged at least four years in a barrel, creating flavors of lilac, vanilla, stone fruit and honey.  Ideal served neat or with just a few cubes of ice.