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One of the great marketing slogans of all time might be “Virginia is for Lovers.” Who knows, they might still use that one. Valentine’s Day is for lovers. And here’s an argument that Valentine’s Day is for Pinot Noir lovers.

grape-sense-logoOver the past few years holidays like Halloween and Valentine’s Day have grown in popularity and celebration.

Valentine’s Day is the second largest card-sending holiday every year. There are estimates that more than 2.5 billion cards are sent each Feb. 14. The wine numbers are equally impressive. It’s hard to narrow down exactly when consumers pick up their Valentine wine but industry experts estimate more than $8.5 million is spent on wine for the lovers’ big day.

No column on Valentine’s Day would be complete without a quick history lesson. Yes, there was a Saint Valentine but that’s about where the agreement begins and ends. Officially, in the Catholic Church at least, Saint Valentine of Rome is the Saint most associated with Feb. 14. He is known as the patron saint for beekeepers, epilepsy, and of course engaged couples and happy marriages


Saint Valentine

And for all those engaged couples, happily married, or dating duos, it’s time to think about the lovers’ day on our annual calendar. A dozen roses, a nice dinner, great chocolate and an even better Pinot Noir can create an awesome and memorable holiday.

Let’s start with the chocolate and state the obvious. The names you know are not the ones you want to be pairing with your wine. Even with Pinot you want a darker chocolate. A good starting point for your chocolate is buy one with at least 60 percent cacao. Ghirardelli is a pretty good place to start. It’s easy to find and a really good mass-produced product. They flavor it up lots of different ways but keep it fairly simple with your wines.

Two great Indy area chocolatiers, and there are more than two, are Best Chocolate in Town on Mass Ave., and Chocolate for the Spirit, available online. Both make a high-end and elegant chocolate truffles and other treats worthy of your significant others. Sure, artisan chocolates aren’t going to come cheap – you can expect to pay $2-3 per chocolate truffle. But that’s the sort of gift your loved one is really going to appreciate.

Recommending a great Pinot in various price points and easy to find is tough but someone has to do it. If you are on a tight budget hit the local grocery wine aisle or liquor store and look for Mark West. The West pinot is almost always under $10, light bodied, but has correct Pinot Noir flavor.

It gets easier if you step up between $10-$20 price range there are many decent picks. Meiomi Pinot Noir is very widely distributed and sells around $16-$17. Meiomi Pinot is the biggest selling Pinot in the U.S. It’s a consistent product, perhaps a tad sweeter on palate than some, but a good choice.

Step up to the $20-$30 range then you’re talking significantly better wine. I’ve suggested in this column space many times that Lange Estate Winery’s Willamette Valley’s Pinot Noir is one of the best buy wines of any varietal. You can find it in better wine shops in the mid-$20 range.

If you want to splurge and go above the $30 price point, I’d recommend a great Oregon Pinot Noir. Bergstrom, Lange, Adelsheim, Winderlea, Domaine Drouhin, and Domaine Serene are just a few of the great names from Oregon. Those wines will be in a silky and refined style.

If you want something bigger look to Sonoma’s Russian River Valley or the California Central Coast.

Buy your bestie some really good chocolate and a nice Pinot Noir and your Valentine’s Day is sure to be a great one.