So I took it upon myself to start looking over some wine menus to make suggestions for the most romantic day of the year. What girl doesn't like to be treated to a nice dinner out? (Answer: There is no girl that doesn't like it!) While thinking of the perfect wine list to dissect, I thought of the perfect restaurant: Olive Garden! Ok - perhaps cliche, but they have a good wine list and they are found almost everywhere. (I figured this way everyone reading my blog could be in a win-win situation.) :)
An Olive Garden Meal
(Photo from Google Images)
Wine lists can be intimidating. Where do you start? What do you buy? How do you say those words?! But, have no fear general-wine-consumer, because I will help make the perfect Valentine's Day selection.
First - a note about Olive Garden - when Olive Garden was one of the classiest restaurants we had available in town, "Johnny Depp" and I had many "first dates" going out to eat at Olive Garden and enjoying their wine tasting tries of any 3 wines. How fun! Just ask the waiter if you can taste test 3 of their wines. More often then not, they will tell you which ones they are tasting with hopes that you order a glass for dinner (as that is the appropriate thing to do). This allows you to try new things and pick something you enjoy for dinner.
Second - always get a wine you enjoy. It's Valentine's Day! Who cares what pairs "best" with that seafood linguine. I say, you should enjoy your wine the way you enjoy your food - by picking something you like.
Third - it's usually the better bet to buy a bottle. However, no worries if you do not want to drink the whole bottle of wine at the restaurant. After all, you need to return home safely. Just make sure if you can take the bottle with you, that you store it in the trunk of your car. An open bottle of wine = an open container, and that would not be a good situation should you get pulled over.
Fourth - my suggestions. :) Please refer to the menu below (from the Olive Garden website) for these references.
Olive Garden has 3 house wines - a white, a red, and a blush (rose) (see the bottom of the menu). There's no shame in buying one of these. For what they are, they actually quite tasty and consumer friendly. Another favorite wine is the Lambrusco (see "Rosso" under "Smooth & Fruity" below) - dark purple color, fruity/grapey flavor, a bit of carbonated spritz in the mouth, and some sweetness is sure to bring a light atmosphere to a fun evening. This was especially popular when we had dinner out with the girls on V-Day. :) The Sangiovese (said like: San-gee-o-vay-see) and Chianti (said like: key-ahn-tee) are the traditional red (rosso) wines of Italy. These are dryer, and more traditional wine styles that are sure to match pretty much anything you buy from the Olive Garden. The Super Tuscan is the Chianti on steroids. Basically a big, red wine, very dry and lots of body (essentially, this is supposed to be a Sangiovese or Chianti base with Cabernet blended into it for the "wow" factor). But if you're into whites, go for it! (These are especially popular with seafood dishes.) I recommend the Pinot Grigio(s) - another grape known to pair well with Italian dishes and should be drier than some of the other options on the wine list. If you're in for something slightly sweeter, the Rieslings will pair well, and both producers on this menu have a slightly off-dry, fruity Riesling. The Moscato is ever popular for those that like something very sweet, floral, and fruity.
Olive Garden's Moscato
(Photo from Google Images)
But if you're in the mood for celebration, your sparkling choices will do as well. Both the Asti (said like: ah-stee) and Prosecco (said like: pro-sek-co) are sweet sparkling wines. The only difference is the flavors - I would say (in my own opinion) that the Prosecco is fruitier. Regardless, both are enjoyable.
Olive Garden Example Wine Menu
|Asti Martini & Rossi||6.95||27.00|
|Moscato Castello del Poggio||6.50||25.00|
|White Zinfandel Sutter Home||5.65||22.00|
|White Zinfandel Beringer||6.95||27.00|
|Riesling Chateau Ste. Michelle||6.35||24.00|
|Riesling Kendall-Jackson Vintner's Reserve||7.35||28.00|
Light & Fruity
|Pinot Grigio Cavit||6.50||25.00|
|Pinot Grigio Sartori||6.95||27.00|
|Pinot Grigio Bottega Vinaia||8.35||32.00|
|Fiano Mandra Rossa||6.50||25.00|
|Pinot Grigio-Sauvignon Blanc Bertani Due Uve||7.50||29.00|
Full & Smooth
|Chardonnay Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi||5.65||22.00|
|Chardonnay Chateau Ste. Michelle||7.50||29.00|
|Chardonnay Kendall-Jackson Vintner's Reserve||8.95||35.00|
Smooth & Fruity
|Pinot Noir Cavit||6.35||24.00|
|Pinot Noir Estancia||7.65||30.00|
|Sangiovese Rocca delle Macie Rubizzo||6.65||26.00|
|Nero d'Avola Arancio||6.50||25.00|
Soft Berry Flavors
|Chianti Classico Gabbiano||6.95||27.00|
|Chianti Classico Riserva Rocca delle Macie||8.50||33.00|
|Merlot Ecco Domani||6.50||25.00|
|Merlot Clos du Bois||8.95||35.00|
|Winemaker's Blend Seven Daughters||7.50||29.00|
|Sangiovese-Syrah Rocca delle Macie SaSyr||8.75||34.00|
Robust & Rich
|Super Tuscan Villa Antinori||10.65||42.00|
|Cabernet Robert Mondavi Private Selection||7.50||29.00|
|Cabernet Beringer Founders' Estate||6.95||27.00|
|Cabernet Sterling Vintner's Collection||8.95||35.00|
|Red Zinfandel Rancho Zabaco||7.35||28.00|
|Brunello di Montalcino Col d'Orcia||----||75.00|
|Our Signature House Wines|
|From family vineyards in Trentino, Italy to your table.|
|5.50 /glass 34.00 /magnum bottle (serves 8 glasses)|
Regardless of your choices, remember the evening is supposed to be light and fun. Enjoy your evening out. And remember - the touch of wine adds a touch of love. :)
(Picture from Google Images)