Today Show Valentine’s Day (and night) with Chef Ryan Scott and Leslie Sbrocco

From start to finish you can create a memorable meal on Valentine’s Day whether it’s for someone special or a special group of friends. And, forget white wine, this is a holiday for pink and red. These options – from steal to splurge – will make Cupid smile.  

Bubbly to begin

J Vineyards & Winery Brut Rosé, Russian River Valley, California $40

A pink to indulge your Valentine. As one of the country’s top sparkling wine producers, J Vineyards crafts bubbly to rival the best from around the globe.  Their elegant Brut Rosé from winemaker, Nicole Hitchcock, is a blend of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Meunier grapes from California’s Russian River Valley.Vibrant and juicy, it’s a pairing for spicy or salty dishes.

Cleto Chiarli Brut de Noir Rosé, Emilia-Romagna, Italy $16

A pretty-in-pink sparkling that’s worth twice the price. Stylishly packaged with fabulous fizz inside, it’s ideal to share with friends or someone special. Made by the historic house of Chiarli founded in 1860, the wine is crafted mostly from red Grasparossa grapes grown in Italy’s Emilia Romagna region. Red berry succulence is complemented with crispness making it ideal to pour day or night.  

TIP: For a swoon-worthy splurge, look to Rosé Champagne from France. Seek out two magnificent bottles sure to impress: From a 200-year-old, family-run house, Champagne Henriot Rosé is complex and classy. A coveted French bubbly newly-introduced to the United States, Champagne Palmer & Co Rosé Réserve is sparkling seduction. (Approximately $75 each)

Rich reds for romance

2015 Bellacosa Cabernet Sauvignon, North Coast, California $25

Could there be a more aptly named wine for Valentine’s Day? Bellacosa means ‘beautiful thing’ creating the perfect sentiment for uncorking a bottle this heart-filled holiday. Made with Cabernet Sauvignon grapes hailing from California’s Napa Valley and Sonoma and Lake Counties, vintner Dan Cohn began the project to craft wines with flavor, character, and affordability. That’s a beautiful thing.

2017 Cusumano Nero D’Avola, Sicily, Italy $12

Swathed in a rich red label and topped with a glass stopper, this is an impress-for-less wine you’ll want to stock up on for Valentine’s Day and beyond. A family affair, Cusumano winery is run by two brothers along with their father. Nero d’Avola is Sicily’s signature red with fruit-driven flavors and a kick of peppery spice. It’s a wine with freshness that pairs as easily with fish as it does chicken or meat dishes. An all-around winner.

TIP: Red wine-stained teeth don’t have to prevent you from kissing your Valentine. I discovered an easy remedy with Wine Nots. Just pop one of the effervescent tablets in your mouth and let it dissolve. Your teeth (and breath) are ready for Cupid’s arrow. (Box of 12 tablets $13)

Sweets for the Sweet

Taylor Fladgate First Estate Reserve Port, Portugal $20

When chocolate is on the menu, there’s no better match than a sumptuous Port from Portugal. Taylor Fladgate is one of the icons of the wine business and this bottling pays homage to the house’s history commemorating their first property purchase in 1744. Sweet berry flavors are balanced with racy vibrancy in a Port priced to please.

2014 Linden Late Harvest Petit Manseng, Virginia $28 (half bottle)

Virginia is the birthplace of wine in America and in my opinion, is one of the most exciting regions to explore. Not only is it a place to find world-class reds and Chardonnay, it’s a go-to destination for unique whites made from a French white grape, Petit Manseng.  Linden Vineyards is one of the state’s superstars and winemaker, Jim Law, has created a sweet wine that nears perfection. Grapes are frozen and pressed to create this liquid gold. Sipping it is like biting into a ripe golden raisin with a pleasing ping of tartness. A stunner.

TIP: Wondering how to pair wines with dessert? Think about color matching. Dark, rich reds match the intensity and smoothness of chocolate dishes while zesty, sweet whites with freshness complement the flavors of with fruit-based treats.

Valentine’s Day Getaways – Sneak Away to a Romantic Destination

We are all looking for that romantic getaway for Valentine’s Day. Whether it’s to escape for the weekend with your honey from the ice and snow of winter, to cozy up together in a rustic cabin or just even to get away for the night to take a well-needed break, we all would love to sneak away to a romantic destination. Enjoy my list of some of the most romantic destinations in the country, along with some incredible Valentine’s Day bubbles to pair with your stay!

 

The Biltmore Estate – Asheville, NC

biltmore estate valentines day package

The Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC is one of the most romantic destinations in the country on any given day but during the month of February, the Biltmore turns the romance up a notch. With their Valentine’s Day Package, you and your sweetie can enjoy the ultimate romantic getaway. Enjoy a 3 course meal in the The Dining Room, the Estate’s most exclusive dining experience or even take dinner in the privacy of your own room! Roses, chocolates, and wine complete the romantic experience in the historic home of the iconic Vanderbilt Family. Call 866-336-1245 or book online here. 

Moet & Chandon 2008 Grand Vintage Rosé, $69

With an actual vintage year, the Moet & Chandon 2008 Grand Vintage Rosé is a unique bottle of champagne and an example of the best of that year’s harvest. This “pink” champagne is actually more gold in color and has a powerful aroma of tropical fruits and nectarines. Finish up with a refreshing taste of grapefruit and ginger and this pink champagne is going to have you and your significant other sipping pretty, in pink.

*****

Baron’s Cove – Sag Harbor, NY

romantic getaways barons cove sag harbor

 

Named one of the romantic towns in the US, don’t let winter in Sag Harbor, NY fool you. Once a thriving port, it is now known for its waterfront resort qualities, meandering tree-lined streets, 18th and 19th century architecture and casually sophisticated way of life. On foot, stroll up and down Main Street to discover singular boutiques, galleries, and local museums, or dine at the most widely-acclaimed restaurants in the Hamptons. By boat, explore the stunning local waterways, coves, and marinas. Or drive just minutes to a surprisingly deep array of wineries.

Baron’s Cove provides a romantic escape harborside with their To Sag Harbor with Love package that includes a romantic dinner, champagne, chocolate and deluxe accommodations in this award winning waterside resort. Cozy up fireside and enjoy all that this quaint harbor town has to offer!

Ruinart Rosé $78

This gorgeous champagne is intensely fruity and aromatic, due to it’s blending of french Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. A little spice paired with floral notes make this worth the splurge.

*****

Middlebury Inn – Middlebury, VT

For those that are looking for some snuggle time and maybe some together time on the slopes as well, Middlebury, VT is the place to go. Middlebury is also home to several breweries and wineries so watch the snow fall over a glass of wine or IPA. The Middlebury Inn celebrates love and snuggling with their Romance in New England package that includes champagne and chocolate covered strawberries, an intimate breakfast for two and a candlelit dinner. Cozy up in the cold weather and enjoy New England at it’s snow-covered finest.

Chandon, Rosé $24

A deal at $24 a bottle, this elegant sparkling rosé is a delightful pink color with berry, cherry and watermelon flavors. This sparkling wine is also excellent in cocktails, like the Rose Rosa Rosé!

*****

St. Regis, Mexico City

If you’re looking to heat things up a little, head down south to the St. Regis, Mexico City. Set in an urban oasis located in one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world, the hotel has several romance themed packages to share with your loved one.

For a quick getaway, the hotel’s “Celebrate Love” package includes a one night stay, a 60-minute couple’s massage, a romantic dinner for two with Möet Chandon Rosé, and in-room breakfast with a mimosa. They also offer incredible romantic dining packages, like the La Vie en Rose, which includes a 4 course menu paired with what else, rosé!

 

Charles Heidsieck, Champagne Rosé Reserve $89

Charles Heidseick’s Rosé Reserve is a classic example of pink champagne. A dusty pink color with a delicate sparkle, this gorgeous wine smells of fresh strawberries and gingerbread. This wine is powerful and stylish, as anything French must be.

*****

The Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa

It’s all about romance in Wine Country – And the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa has hearts all a flutter: Inspired overnight packages, rejuvenating spa treatments and amorous dining adventures are sure to send any relationship into over-drive. The romantic Inn celebrates with a sweetheart of a deal; the unmatched Wine, Roses and Romance package.  Bon vivants will bubble over unparalleled romance-inspired accommodations, sparkling wine and chocolate covered strawberries amenity, rose petal turndown, complimentary sparkling wine tasting passes for two at Gloria Ferrer Winery and breakfast either at the resort or in the privacy of your room or suite. Take advantage of the Willow Stream Spa and their Valentine’s Day themed offers, such as a Chocolate Facial or a Chocolate Chardonnay Pedicure!

 

Alfred Gratien, Champagne, Brut Rosé $50

Alfred Gratien Brut Rosé is the definition of erotic. With floral notes that invoke rose petals strewn across a bed, it sparkles energetically, making it perfect to sip and savor in front of a roaring fire. Watch those bubbles sparkle in the firelight as you enjoy it’s slightly smoky finish. This is perfect to enjoy on Valentine’s Day, savoring the wine and the one you love.

#OjaiLove

Last and certainly not least, show a different kind of love this Valentine’s Day. During the California Wildfires the town of Ojai was saved by heroic firefighters from the devastation. As they welcome visitors back to their beautiful valley, the hotels of Ojai have banded together to raise money for those who have been impacted by the Thomas Fire. By booking the Ojai Love package at any of the participating hotels, you’ll receive 10% OFF the best available rate & exclusive discounted access to some of Ojai’s best restaurants, shops & activities! Plus a $10 donation per night will be made in your name to help those who have been affected.

 

Either west coast or east coast, warm weather or snow, wherever you choose to celebrate this Valentine’s Day, make sure to do it with a delicious glass of bubbles and someone you love.

Best Winter Wines and Special Valentines Day Wines – Under $25

It’s always a fun time when I pair up with Ray Ilse from Food & Wine and we pick wines for the Today Show. With Valentine’s Day fast approaching and spring nowhere in sight (except at my house in California), we chose a few winter wines to enjoy for the rest of the cold season, and a few Valentine’s Day wines to snuggle up to your honey with. All of these wines are under $25 and watch the video following to see what delicious food to pair with some of them as well!

Winter Wines and the Perfect Valentines Day Wines

 

Winter Whites

 

Ray

2016 E. Guigal Côtes du Rhône Blanc, France, $17, Guigal

An affordable French white crafted with a blend of primarily Viognier with Roussanne and other Rhone white grapes, this is a top value from a storied Rhône Valley producer. With melon and citrus notes, it’s a winter white wine to serve with anything gracing the table.

Leslie

2016 Ponzi Pinot Gris, Willamette Valley, Oregon, $19, Ponzi Vineyards

If this luscious yet crisp wine was an item of clothing, it would be a sleek winter-white dress that pairs with any occasion. The same is true for Ponzi’s Pinot Gris, which matches dishes from squash soup to grilled fish. The Ponzi sisters, Maria and Luisa, are wine mavens in charge of this classic Oregon winery. Their vibrant personalities are reflected in this joy-to-sip white.

Winter Reds

Ray

Medici Ermete I Quercioli “Secco” Lambrusco, Italy, $14, Kobrand Wine & Spirits

Yes, it’s deeply, intensely red in color, and it’s sparkling. But Medici’s I Quercioli Lambrusco isn’t sweet at all, and it’s a superb match for rich winter dishes. Pasta bolognese and this…you’re talking perfection.

Leslie

2015 Peachy Canyon “Incredible Red” blend, California, $15, Peachy Canyon

When winter weather is whirling outside, stay inside with a hearty dish and a big glass of something incredible. This juicy Zinfandel-based blend sports full-bodied flair, dark fruit flavors, and a peppery kick. Serve alongside braised meat dishes, mushroom risotto, or pulled pork.

The Perfect Valentine’s Day Wines

 

Ray

NV Mionetto “Cuvee Anniversario” Valdobiadenne Prosecco, Italy, $24, Mionetto USA

Kick off the romantic evening with this limited-release sparkler from one of the most well-known Prosecco producers in Italy. It’s history in a glass. Dry, crisp and lively, it’s great for a romantic toast. The bottle is stunning, too, making it the perfect gift for your Valentine.

Leslie

2016 Sanford Rosé, Sta. Rita Hills, California, $22, Sanford Winery

Not only is this rosé a delicious partner for most meals, it’s elegant and beautiful to look at…just like your Valentine. Crafted by one of California’s legendary producers with Pinot Noir from two estate vineyards, including the historic Sanford & Benedict Vineyard, this is a serious pink but also seriously fun to sip.

 

Romantic Dinner Wines

Ray

2015 Charles Smith Wines “Velvet Devil” Merlot, Washington, $14, Charles Smith Wines

When you want to walk on the wild side, look for wines from Charles Smith. This whimsical Washington red is a rich, luscious Merlot with dark berry fleshiness. Come on, who doesn’t want to get a little devilish on Valentine’s Day?

Leslie

Graham’s “Six Grapes” Reserve Port, Portugal, $24, Premium Port

End the evening in sultry style with this opulent yet elegant dessert sipper from one of the famed producers of Port. W. & J. Graham’s dates to 1820 and is a producer that marries tradition with innovation. I adore their Six Grapes Port for its high quality and affordable price. It’s a decadently smooth and lightly sweet wine to finish a meal in sexy style.