A thirst for romance
blog by S.J. Velasquez • February 14, 2012 @ 8:00am
It’s Feb. 14, and you forgot to pick up that romantic bottle of of bubbly for your lovey-dovey dinner this evening. Pressure mounting, you remember last year when you randomly chose a red wine that tasted more like liquid pepper than a refreshing beverage.
Before you swing by the liquor store to buy whatever has a red label with hearts, take some advice from Eric Genau, president of City Wine Merchant, and Chris Groves, Consumer’s Beverages art and media director (and one-third of Audio Buffalo’s “Craft Beer Talk” trio). Whether you’re a wine or a beer drinker, there are plenty of options for any romantic with a picky palate. Trust me, it’s worth listening to the pros.
Groves’ beer picks:
Troegenator Doublebock Beer
“This is the simplest form of chocolate I know,” Groves said. He described the beer’s body as chewy and said it produces a warmth that will turn your cheeks rosy red. This Troeg would pair perfectly with chocolate, he added.
Young’s Double Chocolate Stout
This beer, described on the royal purple label as “pure luxury,” was brewed with real dark chocolate and chocolate stout. It has a rich nuttiness and is “incredibly smooth,” Groves said. It should be consumed at a slightly warmer temperature than normal (around 45 degrees) to enhance the beer’s flavors. Groves suggested pairing this bottle with maybe a spicy dish or white chocolate.
Southern Tier Imperial Choklat Stout
At 11 percent alcohol, Groves said this beer should be treated more like a wine. The complexity of this beer is much like a layered chocolate cake, Groves explained. Upon first sip, it’s semi- bittersweet, and then it progresses to a roasted stout, making it the sweetest brew of the bunch. “It’s dessert in a bottle,” Groves said.
“This is one of the most perfect balances between cherries and chocolate in a beer that wishes to achieve that,” Groves said. Another beer with a complex flavor profile, this romantically named brew boasts a lavishly layered flavor profile: “cherries up front, warming in the back with a finish of a dark Belgian porter,” Groves described it. This New York beer is “nice after dinner, by itself,” or perhaps served with a steak topped with a crumbly blue cheese.
This hybrid beer of sorts blends young and old goudenband, Groves explained. It’s brewed and aged in steel, he added, allowing the beer to be a little less sour. Still, it possesses a tartness that “plays well with the caramel-nutty underlying flavors,” he said, suggesting this be paired with snack on the salty side—like a peanut butter cup or a soft pretzel.
Genau’s wine picks:
Lucien Albrecht Cremant D’Alsace
Here’s what you should try if you’re going for the “champagne experience,” Genau said. The sparkling wine’s rosie color lends itself perfectly to a romantic evening. Don’t worry about breaking the bank. This hand-picked brut rose won’t run you more than $19.
Desiderio Jeio Proseco
This particular bottle is particularly romantic, and Genau firmly believes that you should “make the wine part of the romance.” It should fit with the occasion and never feel forced. If you’re nervous about purchasing a particular bottle, Genau encourages you to stop by the store where you can sample wines that suit your taste.
La Sera Red Ambrosia
This sweet red from the Piedmont region of Italy is “the real deal,” Genau insists. It boasts a little fizziness and goes with a wide range of foods—from something “intensely flavorful or a traditional Valentine’s Day option like strawberries and chocolate.” Genau also appreciates the romantic origins of this wine, which he believes lends itself to a special drinking experience. “Wine should reflect its place,” he said. “For me, that’s part of the ultimate romance of wine. You can taste Tuscany.”
Speaking of a wine’s romantic backstory, this chianti can’t get much more storybook. It’s not produced in any average winery—it’s from a medieval village in Italy, amid beautiful rolling hills, featuring a majestic tower. Oh, and it’s owned by a princess—yes, an actual princess oversees the wine-making! “It takes you to another place and time,” Genau said.
Take your pick
With so many options out there, take your time to get the backstory on your beverage of choice, and have a taste before you buy. There’s no point in throwing away your money and ruining a romantic moment with a drink that you and your special someone—or just you, if you’re Valentine-ing solo—don’t enjoy.
“Don’t let anyone tell you what to drink,” Genau said. He encourages customers to drop in for tastings, which are hosted at the store each Thursday. And ask the employees—they’re extremely knowledgable. At City Wine Merchant, Genau and his staffers have handpicked every bottle, so they know exactly what they’re talking about when suggesting a bottle.
And don’t overlook beer when searching for a perfect bottle of booze. Beer can be romantic, and “it has many dessert qualities,” Groves said.