What to Drink on Valentine's Day
The real name of Valentine's Day is actually Saint Valentine's Day and was for about 1500 years a part of the Roman Calendar of saints. It was always celebrated on the 14th February, and believing the historical facts Valentine's Day received its romantic reputation from the actual St. Valentine who lived around 250AD and married young men with women against the law of Emperor Claudius II.
Many legends weave around the 14th February and many of them talk about love and affection, just like the Greek tale that winegrowers will visit their vines on Valentine's Day to water the vineyard with wine in belief of the Greek/Roman God Dionis or Bahus (also known as Bacchus or Liber Pater) to peak the yields. Bacchus is also a grape variety, most commonly grown in Germany and Great Britain.
So it seems Valentine's Day is well connected not only with millions of gift cards, love letters, secret messages and red roses, but also with what will give your romantic evening just the right kind of kick of love and affection – a nice bottle of wine.
We are fortunate to have a great number of offers we can chose from, but I would personally like to make 2012 a year of going back to the roots. Saint Valentine was either a priest in Rome or a bishop of Interamna, todays city of Terni (also in Italy). So let's look at those two. Both are in wine regions in central Italy (primarily known for the region of Tuscany), one is called Umbria, the other Lazio/Latium.
Umbria is known for a white wine called Orvieto, or better – Orvieto Classico. It's a Cuvee of local varieties and usually doesn't make it further then to be an alright day to day wine. A little peak of fame got to Umbria in the '70's when a man called Lungarotti came up with 'Torgiano' which quickly took first place and became cult in the international wine scene.
Lazi/Latium is a little more challenging. I suppose to celebrate V'Day means to have found 'the one' among the masses, and so it would be a genius analogy between a good bottle of wine and 'the one person' you cherish, love and celebrate on this day. 85 percent of the wines coming from the regions are white, and among all the bottles most are mass produce. Paola di Mauro's Collo Picchioni vinery is small and amazing, showing us that less is usually a LOT more.
Famous was the region for the classic that has nearly vanished 'Est! Est!! Est!!!' made from Malvasia and Trebbiano. It was cult in the '90 – and don't ask about the awkward name – it allegedly originated from the need of a German bishop to sleep and drink (wine, good wine) while traveling to the region.
To buy a bottle of wine similar to what St. Valentine might have given as a gift to the legendary blind daughter (whom he healed) of his prisoner, look for the following:
Arnaldo Caprai (owned by Marco Caprai), Montefalcom Umbria -- Famous for his renowned Sagrantino -25anni- Arnaldo Caprai - Sagrantino
Colle Picchioni (owned by Paola di Mauro), Marino, Latium – look for top notch red wine 'Vigna del Vassallo' made more than a half century old vines, or the Colle Picchioni Oro
Colle Picchioni - Vigna del Vassallo
Falesco (by Riccardo Cotarella), Montecchio – try the Est! Est!! Est!!! di Montefiascone Poggio dei Gelsi or the Vendemmia Tardiva. – funny fact, the brother of Riccardo works for the huge and well known Antinori ;)
Falesco - Est! Est!! Est!!!