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Perfect match: Great wines and what to pair them with this Valentine's Day

Cathal McBride shares his top picks from the Dunnes Stores Simply Better collection. Brought to you in partnership with Dunnes Stores Simply Better


With February 14th approaching thoughts turn towards the idea of a romantic meal at home.

Simplicity is key when it comes to pairing food and wine: focus on quality ingredients that require minimal effort such as steak, seafood and top notch charcuterie, and accompany with my suggestions from the Dunnes Stores Simply Better wine range.

Camboral Reserva Tempranillo, Rioja, 2016 (ABV 14 per cent) €15 

Coming from the famous Rioja region in Spain, this is classified as Reserva which means three years aging have taken place, with at least one of those in barrels. Oak defines the nose of this wine followed by rich, dark berry fruits with gentle vanilla and herbal aromas. These notes are replicated on the palate which is smooth and silky yet balanced by adequate acidity. Finely tuned tannins make for a balanced, full bodied red wine that would make a fine friend to beef Wellington, or a beautiful in-season leg of lamb. 

Château de Berne Cuvée Rosé, Côtes de Provence, 2020 (ABV 13 per cent) €18 

Made from a blend of grenache, cinsault and syrah, this wine offers rich stone fruit aromas on the nose with apricots and peaches vibrantly present along with some mild herbal and floral notes singing through. The palate delights in a fruity refreshing wine with an elegant textural mouthfeel uplifted by zingy acidity. A beautiful example of Côtes de Provence rosé this wine works perfectly as an aperitif; with a goat cheese salad starter or other light salads, a shellfish platter, sushi or smoked salmon canapés. 

Château de Pierreux Brouilly Rouge 2019 (ABV 13.5 per cent) €19.99  

This is keen value for a wonderful Beaujolais from an equally quality vintage and offers a lighter, softer style of red wine made from 100 per cent gamay. Hailing from Brouilly, an exciting appellation from Beaujolais, the grapes used here are hand harvested and the vineyard uses organic and biodynamic farming methods exclusively. The nose offers delicate aromas of ripe red berries with a touch of mild spice and minerality. Fleshy and ripe on the palate with juicy forest fruits, it is deliciously rounded by clean vibrant acidity with soft and silky tannins leading into a fresh finish. Although ripe for drinking now, this should easily hold its form for many years. An ideal match for a sharing charcuterie board, or just as decadent when partnered with a fillet steak dinner. 

H.Blin Champagne Blanc de Noirs, NV, France (ABV 12.5 per cent) €45.99 

This Blanc de Noirs, made entirely from the red grape petit meunier, may seem like an unusual composition but is a Champagne of true style and substance. The nose opens to an intense fragrance and intoxicating perfume of fresh pears, creamy and buttery pastry along with toasted hazelnuts, lemon citrus and floral aromas. The heart of this Champagne offers refreshing fruity notes of juicy red apples and Williams pears offset by an elegant acidity. Serve on its own as an aperitif, or pair with salty snacks like olives, shellfish such as langoustines or oysters, or for a dessert option pair with strawberries or a crème brulée. Worth every cent.

Peter & Peter Riesling, Aus Der Steillage, Trocken, Mosel, 2020 (ABV 12 per cent) €15 

From the steep, hilly slopes of the Mosel Valley in Germany, this wine offers aromas of summer peaches and green apples accompanied by lilts of honeydew melon and orchard honey. The palate presents notes of pears and crisp apples in a clean and fresh expression but with a honey sweetness and white flowers providing a depth of flavour. With a dry, lip-smacking finish, this riesling would be an ideal accompaniment to an old school prawn cocktail, a roast loin of pork with apple sauce, moderately spiced Thai food like a green curry or pad thai, rich fish dishes or an apple pie dessert. 

Torre Oria Cava Brut Reserva, NV, Spain (ABV 11.5 per cent) €15 

It would not be Valentine’s Day without some bubbles, and this is an excellent value alternative to Champagne. Made in the méthode traditionnelle, from chardonnay and macabeo this provides a familiar classic French style, immediately redolent of yeasty aromas before settling into a bouquet of crisp apple, peach and intriguing berry tones. Intensely juicy and lively, this is dry in style with a complexity of flavours invigorating the palate to a lingering finish. Light and approachable, this cava pairs easily with many dishes, whether it’s a romantic tapas spread, paella, oysters or a luxurious lobster mac and cheese.

Available in selected Dunnes Stores only. Always drink responsibly.

Brought to you in partnership with Dunnes Stores Simply Better

READ MORE: Neven Maguire's perfect Valentine's Day meals