We all know that Valentine’s Day is simply a corporate money grab, a holiday with one purpose: obliging you to buy cards, flowers, jewelry, chocolates and candies, wear red and order from overpriced menus on one of the busiest restaurant nights of the year.
In other words, it’s great fun. And since it’s one of the biggest days of the year for consuming sweets, I’d like to make a pitch this year for sweet wines.
It’s not an easy pitch to make. Good bottles are luscious, nuanced and captivating. But they are arduous and risky to produce, which means they are relatively expensive. And consumers today find it difficult to incorporate sweet wines — once prized, much sought-after styles — into hectic, health-conscious routines.
I understand this. The era of the after-dinner bottle of port or Sauternes is long over. Classic styles of sweet wine have been unfashionable for decades. And yet, at the right moment, they can be so gloriously delicious.
Valentine’s Day could be the right moment. The focus is desserts and candies, so why not add to the bounty? Rather than try to force uncomfortable pairings of chocolates, bonbons and other desserts with red wine, why not a sweet wine that can truly enhance the pleasure?
While it may seem counterintuitive, sweet wines can go with far more than desserts. Last year I drank Sauternes with oysters on the half shell and boudin noir and thoroughly enjoyed the combinations. Why? Because good sweet wines are not merely sweet. They are beautifully balanced, lively and refreshing, which makes them, if not exactly versatile, less inflexible than you might think. Few wines will go better with strong cheeses.