Two of our favorite things? Wine and celebrating women. So whether you’re toasting to love and romance or to loyal girlfriends on Valentine’s Day, why not raise a glass of wine or bubbly from a female winemaker? We reached out to Sarah O’Kelley, the wine director for Edmund’s Oast and a certified sommelier. Sarah offered tips for choosing a perfect bottle to share with a date or your best girlfriends on Valentine’s or any time and shared this impressive list of wines that all have a strong woman behind the label.
- Whether you’re cooking at home or dining out, Sarah says pinot noirs are a good food-friendly option to pair with a special occasion meal because they have a high acidity which cuts through rich meals.
- If you want bubbles, look beyond Champagne, if you don’t want to break the bank. Don’t try to buy inexpensive, Champagne, Sarah advises. Instead, try a sparkling that uses the same traditional method of Champagne producers, or try alternatives such as prosecco and cava. If you want to impress with a bottle of Champagne from the namesake region of France, plan to spend at least $45 to $65.
- If you’re dining out, consider splurging on dessert wine. It warms you up on a chilly night and can pair well with chocolate.
- Want to add a little romance to your wine selection? Ask for wine from a small producer or a grower producer. It increases the odds of it being a great wine and you’re sure to find a good story behind the bottle.
Here’s to good wine, lasting friendships and partners who love and respect you – and do their share of the laundry. Cheers! (All wines are available at Edmund’s Oast Exchange.)
Nicole Chanrion Effervescence, $27
Region: Beaujolais, France
Story: Nicole Chanrion was born into a winemaking family in Beaujolais, but at the time this was considered man’s work. However, Nicole knew her place was in the cellar working with her father and refused to let convention hold her back. Today she works their 16 acres by herself, and she is referred to as “La Patronne de la Côte” or the boss of la Côte.
Pairing tips: This is a fun, off-the-beaten-path sparkling that over-delivers for the price. It would work wonderfully as an aperitif or throughout an entire meal with classics such as roasted chicken or pork loin.
Marie-Courtin “Résonance” Blanc de Noirs Extra Brut, $54
Grape: 100 percent Pinot Noir
Region: Aube in the Champagne region of France
Story: Dominique Moreau farms one parcel and named her domaine after her great-grandmother. She farms biodynamically and believes in minimal intervention in the cellar. She even cultivates her own yeast for the secondary fermentation.
Pairing tips: This is a complex but still approachable Champagne. If you want to splurge on true Champagne, this is the ticket. Even more so than the Chanrion, it could be enjoyed throughout the meal.
Elena Walch Schiava 2016 $17
Region: Alto Adige, Italy
Story: Elena Walch married into a leading wine family in this northeastern corner of Italy, and though she was an architect by trade she wound up taking over and propelling the estate into even greater success. Today, she works with her two daughters. She has a famed age-worthy Chardonnay but also delivers great weeknight wines like this Schiava and a Lagrein that always offer tremendous bang for the buck!
Pairing tips: Schiava (a native grape of this region) has velvety tannins and enough fruit to make it pair well with many dishes from pork chops to hanger steak to roasted veggies and grains!
Vin de Days White 2016, $22
Grapes: Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Muscat, and Müller-Thurgau
Region: Willamette Valley, Oregon
Story: Brianne Day has a story that begs to be told. She fell head-over-heels in love with winemaking, which led her to work harvests around the globe. She ultimately found herself back in her homeland of the Pacific Northwest and working several jobs to support her winemaking habit. One of these jobs was at a restaurant in Portland, where she had the encounter of a lifetime when inquisitive patrons asked about the tattoo of grapes on her arm. She told them of her passion for winemaking, and they asked if she would be interested in financial backing to make that dream come true. This wealthy couple from Michigan became Day’s business partners and enabled her to create Day Wines. She now has a cooperative winery in Dundee, Oregon, where she makes her very natural wines alongside other small-scale winemakers. Day focuses on Pinot Noir but also on lesser-known varieties like the aromatic whites found in the Vin de Days White.
Pairing tips: This is a quintessentially pretty wine that always wows on the first sip. The aromatic grapes jump out of the glass, and the vibrant acidity keeps you coming back for more. It would pair especially well with Asian flavors as it has some tropical elements that would complement a bit of spice. It could also work well as an aperitif. Plus, the label is an eye-catcher, making it very giftable.
Peay Pomarium Pinot Noir 2014, $63
Grape: Pinot Noir
Region: Sonoma Coast, California
Story: This is most definitely a family business: Nick Peay is the vineyard manager; his wife, Vanessa Wong, is the winemaker; and Nick’s brother Andy Peay is the business manager. They are most well known for their elegant, refined Pinot Noir and Syrah from the outer reaches of the Sonoma Coast. Before joining Peay in 2001, Vanessa worked at top wineries in California and France. She began working in the food and beverage industry at the age of 14 and pursued a degree in viticulture at UC Davis (where her parents thought she was taking pre-med courses).
Pairing tips: This is a sublime Pinot that you could enjoy now or lay down for a few years. It tastes of black cherries baked by earth and has enough power to stand up to richer dishes like short ribs, coq au vin or mushroom risotto.
Ca’ Togni 2007 $40, half-bottle, limited availability
Grape: Black Hamburg
Region: Napa, California
Story: This comes from Philip Togni winery that 95-year-old Philip has slowly handed over to his daughter Lisa. They are famed for their timeless Cabernet Sauvignon but also make this unique dessert wine modeled after the classic digestif from South Africa known as Constantia. This is thought to be the only planting of the rare Black Haburgh grape in Napa, and the Tognis originally made this wine just for themselves. The grapes are allowed to dry on the vine to concentrate sweetness while preserving acidity.
Pairing: Valentine’s Day always raises the question of wine and chocolate. And the reality is that this is not an easy pairing. Wines should be sweeter than the dessert they are being paired with to really work. Enter Ca’Togni – a luscious treat that smells of roses and goes wonderfully with berry desserts and chocolate.
Corison Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 $100
Grape: Cabernet Sauvignon
Region: Napa, California
Story: “My philosophy is to make complex wines that walk the fine line between power and elegance. I employ time-honored winemaking techniques, using only small French oak barrels sourced from several forests for complexity. Mine is a hands-off approach to winemaking; it is my job to let the vineyards speak.” Cathy developed an interest in winemaking as an undergrad and went on to achieve her masters in oenology in the mid-70s. She spent many years making wine for others before her first vintage of Corison Cabernet in 1987. Her husband manages the winery with her. She makes a restrained, classic Napa Cabernet that can age for years and years.
Pairing tips: I would mostly recommend this as a gift to hold on to for at least a few years before enjoying as it has some definite muscle. But if enjoying now, be sure to pair with a hearty but simple meal where the wine can really shine – grilled rib eyes perhaps?