Thursday, January 27, 2011

Romance (R)Thursdays: Wine Menus for Valentine's Day

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

Spumante (Sparkling)

Asti Martini & Rossi6.9527.00
Prosecco Zonin7.35
Bianco e Rosato (White & Blush)
Slightly Sweet
Moscato Castello del Poggio6.5025.00
White Zinfandel Sutter Home5.6522.00
White Zinfandel Beringer6.9527.00
Riesling Chateau Ste. Michelle6.3524.00
Riesling Kendall-Jackson Vintner's Reserve7.3528.00
Light & Fruity
Pinot Grigio Cavit6.5025.00
Pinot Grigio Sartori6.9527.00
Pinot Grigio Bottega Vinaia8.3532.00
Fiano Mandra Rossa6.5025.00
Pinot Grigio-Sauvignon Blanc Bertani Due Uve7.5029.00
Full & Smooth
Chardonnay Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi5.6522.00
Chardonnay Chateau Ste. Michelle7.5029.00
Chardonnay Kendall-Jackson Vintner's Reserve8.9535.00
Rosso (Red)
Smooth & Fruity
Lambrusco Riunite5.6522.00
Pinot Noir Cavit6.3524.00
Pinot Noir Estancia7.6530.00
Sangiovese Rocca delle Macie Rubizzo6.6526.00
Valpolicella Secco-Bertani6.9527.00
Nero d'Avola Arancio6.5025.00
Soft Berry Flavors
Chianti Straccali6.3524.00
Chianti Classico Gabbiano6.9527.00
Chianti Classico Riserva Rocca delle Macie8.5033.00
Merlot Ecco Domani6.5025.00
Merlot Clos du Bois8.9535.00
Winemaker's Blend Seven Daughters7.5029.00
Sangiovese-Syrah Rocca delle Macie SaSyr8.7534.00
Robust & Rich
Super Tuscan Villa Antinori10.6542.00
Cabernet Robert Mondavi Private Selection7.5029.00
Cabernet Beringer Founders' Estate6.9527.00
Cabernet Sterling Vintner's Collection8.9535.00
Red Zinfandel Rancho Zabaco7.3528.00
Brunello di Montalcino Col d'Orcia----  75.00
Amarone Bertani----  110.00
Our Signature House Wines
From family vineyards in Trentino, Italy to your table.
Rosso (Red)Bianco (White)Rosato (Blush)
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.  :)

Wine Love
(Picture from Google Images)

1 comment:

  1. Hi Denise, Wow you put lots of time and energy into this. Grandpop wants you to tell him how he can get people to sign up for this so he can tell people. Very interesting. Good luck with it. Love you