This Valentine’s Day, embrace staying home and enjoy luxurious foods with drinks to match. We wedded six celebratory take-home foods with sips — from sparkling wines to Imperial Stout — that enhance every bite. Want one wine for several courses? The brut sparkling wine recommendations below pair with multiple foods on our list.
Matching wine with sushi is tricky, but a brut Champagne is a perfect partner. The sparkler’s mineral and yeasty notes complement sushi, and the cleansing bubbles counter the fish’s richness. Oishi (two locations) is among the restaurants offering sushi, sashimi, and rolls to-go. If you want a fancier presentation, the kitchen will arrange your order on any platter that you provide.
Pour this: Bone dry and elegant, Laurent Perrier Brut La Cuvee Champagne bridges a variety of sushi and delicate sashimi. With fine, persistent bubbles and notes of citrus and white fruits, it gently accents the pristine fish and refreshes the palate ($39 to $42 at Total Wine, Spec’s and Pogo’s). For the beer lover, opt for Hitachino Nest White Ale: a citrusy take on a Belgian witbier, from Japan’s 150-year-old Kiuchi Brewery. Clean, light and refreshing, with faint orange zest and ginger notes, it’s an excellent choice for sushi; the 11.2-ounce bottles are widely available for about $4.50.
Oysters on the half-shell
For a multi-sensory pleasure, slurp East Coast oysters from their shells with a classic wine pairing. TJ’s Seafood Market (two locations) sells fresh-shucked oysters to-go, nestled in crushed ice. For $36, you get one dozen oysters on the half-shell, with mignonette and cocktail sauces, plus lemon wedges. Similarly, Rex’s Seafood (two locations) offers a dozen “premium” oysters for $33. (Gulf oysters are sold for a lower price.)
Pour this: Champagne is a superb match, but it’s not the only great choice. Other perfect pairings include unoaked white wines that reflect their mineral-rich terroir: chablis (Burgundy’s clean, classic chardonnay ); and Sancerre (the Loire Valley’s famous sauvignon blanc). Lucien Crochet Sancerre La Chene Marchand has the bracing acidity and citrus-mineral notes that complement briny oysters. Made by a top Sancerre producer, with grapes from a renowned site in the appellation, it’s under $45 at Sigel’s (on Greenville) and Spec’s (Royal and Preston Rd. locations). Billaud-Simon Chablis 2018 ($41.99, Pogo’s) balances zippy acidity, minerality, and lemon notes with ripe, white fruit. If you love bubbles, pop open a Brut Champagne (see sushi pairing, above).
You can buy them ready to pan-fry or ready-to-eat at seafood spots like Rex’s or TJ’s. Don’t forget the creamy sauce or remoulade.
Pour this: A sparkling wine, such as J Vineyards Cuvee 20 Brut NV, from Sonoma’s Russian River Valley; citrus, ripe fruit, and buttery notes complement the crab, while toasted brioche notes highlight the breadcrumb coating. Lively acidity and bubbles cut through the richness of the crabcake and sauce. It’s sold for $30-$37 at many stores, including Sigel’s, Spec’s and Total Wine.
Rich, creamy cheese
Valentine’s Day is ripe for a decadent, triple cream, bloomy rind cheese. Cowgirl Creamery’s Mt. Tam is among the most iconic of American triple cream cheeses. Luscious, with a buttery flavor, this organic cheese gives France’s best bries stiff competition. Want a local artisan cheese that’s ultra-creamy? Haute Goat’s “Chaource,” made in nearby Longview, is a luxurious, creamy cheese inspired by the French cheese of the same name. It’s made with rich cow’s milk from Southspoon Farm, 60 miles northeast of Dallas. It’s sold exclusively at Scardello Artisan Cheese for Valentine’s Day. The Mt. Tam is sold at Scardello and specialty supermarkets.
Pour this: Bubbles and butterfat go well together; either a brut Champagne or a Sonoma sparkling wine harmonizes with both cheeses. Their bubbles are a cleansing counter to the creamy richness. If you opened one of the sparklers recommended for the sushi, oysters or crabcakes (above), save a glass for this cheese course.
Nothing screams Valentine’s Day like chocolate. The richness of dark chocolate truffles make it a fitting holiday splurge. Chocolate Secrets on Oak Lawn Avenue makes a variety of truffles to mix and match; they’re sold for $2.90 each, and in boxes of two, up to 32.
Pour this: For a light yet festive pairing, go with a Brachetto d’ Acqui, such as Banfi Rosa Regale DOCG, ($16 to $20, or $6.29 for a mini bottle, at Jimmy’s, Sigel’s, Spec’s and Total Wine). This frizzante (slightly bubbly) Italian dessert wine pours a gorgeous ruby color, and has bright, sweet berry flavors that marry well with dark chocolate truffles; a raspberry flavored chocolate truffle would sing with it. Beer lovers can go in a more decadent direction, with an imperial stout, such as 903 Brewers “Fragile Like a Bomb.” It’s an oak-aged Imperial Oatmeal Stout, made with whiskey-soaked coffee beans and vanilla sugar. Rich and complex, its roasty coffee notes complement plain dark chocolate and coffee flavored truffles. This seasonal beer is widely available, in two-packs of 12-ounce cans for $15.99.
Ripe strawberries are the quintessential Valentine’s Day fruit; they get dolled up for the holiday in Central Market’s strawberry shortcake. The store’s bakery sells 6-inch diameter and 9-inch diameter cakes ($19.99 and $27.99).
Pour this: Moscato di Asti, the frizzante dessert wine from Italy’s Piedmont region, makes a refreshing match. The Michele Chiarlo “Nivole” Moscato d’ Asti is soft and fizzy, with peach-apricot sweetness; it has just enough bubbles to be palate cleansing and festive (widely available for about $21, or $13 for a 375 ml-bottle).
Tina Danze is a Dallas freelance writer.