Something sparkling for your Valentine

  • Extensive studies have shown that women in general, appreciate sweets and chocolate more than the men do

You go into your favourite restaurant and start by ordering the chocolate cheesecake. Once finished, you request a bowl of their famous fish chowder.

By now the proprietor is giving you that “the lights are on, but nobody is home” look. Surely, they think, you must know that sweetness clogs up the taste buds and that is why dessert is the last course.

When I give my Valentine a box of the best Belgian chocolate, I do so knowing that extensive studies have shown that women have a lower biological tolerance for bitter, sour and salty flavours; more than likely due to their keener sense of smell.

The fact is that they, in general, appreciate sweets and chocolate more than the males of our species do.

She opens the box of chocolate knowing full well that the second bite will not be as good as the first because of 10,000 taste buds being slightly clogged.

Of course, there is a solution, a way to make ensuing bites even better, but before I carry on I should say that half the research I have done on wine and chocolate says that this is a bad idea, and half say that it works very well.

I prefer the “glass half-full” philosophy as I am of the school of thought that the acidity and tiny bubbles in sparkling wines are perfect for palate cleansing and, of course, these wines are associated with celebrations and love.

Santa Margherita sparkling rosé should not be confused with their prosecco as it is an entirely different offering with a full bouquet of pleasing floral aromas and hints of red berries.

It is crafted from a blend of chardonnay, glera (the prosecco grape) and Malbec as the red varietal that lends its perfect light pink colour.

It is a delicate, well-rounded, but vibrant, wine. Like most bubblies, it is versatile and, although happy with sweets and rich desserts, it can be enjoyed with antipasti, seafood and intensely flavoured Asian dishes. A good sparkling wine is far more effective than bread or water in removing painful hot oils from the tongue and palate. $21.75.

Ever since US President Richard Nixon took Schramsberg to China for official toasts back in 1972, it has been the official wine for State Department functions; it was served to Emmanuel Macron, the French President, during his state visit to the US last year.

Schramsberg wines were even popular back in the 1800s — author Robert Louis Stevenson wrote about enjoying them on his honeymoon.

To demonstrate versatility, let me quote from the Schramsberg website: “Enjoy this rich, delicious sparkler on almost any occasion — at your favourite restaurant, a special dinner at home, at a beach picnic or a backyard barbecue. A very versatile wine; try it with sushi, salmon, rock shrimp, pizza, roast chicken, BBQ ribs, burgers, chocolate raspberry tarts and creamy, mild cheeses with summer fruits, prosciutto, ham, spicy meats and vegetable dips, spring rolls, onion puffs, dim sum. Courses might include scrambled eggs and chives, grilled salmon, chicken with lemon and herbs, boned quail, Andouille sausage, gumbo, shellfish pasta, pasta Putenesca, pesto dishes, Asian cuisine.”

The Connoisseurs’ Guide has to say about Schramsberg Mirabelle Non-Vintage Mirabelle Brut Rosé: “Fifty-three per cent chardonnay; 47 per cent pinot noir. It succeeds as a distinctly fruity and friendly offering with all the juicy exuberance that California grapes can bring to the party. Its aromas are pleasantly outgoing and its open, well-balanced flavours make it a wine to remember when choosing a bottle of bubbles for all sorts of happy occasions from tailgating to birthday celebrations.” $38.25.

One online shipper is suggesting strawberries and star anise velvet truffles with Laurent Perrier Brut Rosé Champagne and another one thinks that white, milk or even dark chocolate matches well. As this 100 per cent pinot noir adds crisp aromas of strawberries, raspberries and black cherries, what could be more perfect? This champagne, that rates 96/100 with The Connoisseurs’ Guide, is the most asked-for rosé champagne in the world and it is considered the benchmark. $99.50.

The general movement towards drier wines, together with the habit of drinking champagne as an aperitif, has popularised the consumption of brut champagnes. However, many wine lovers still enjoy the sweetness of past pleasures provided by a demi-sec. Laurent-Perrier Harmony is a demi-sec champagne, rounded and delicate, thanks to a high proportion of chardonnay and a well-balanced dosage. As you probably know, once a bottle of champagne is opened to remove the leftover “lees”, such as dead yeast cells from fermentation in the bottle, it is topped up with a final “dosage” of some reserve wine and sugar and then the final cork is installed. A brut has less than 12 grams of sugar per litre and a demi-sec has between 32 and 50 grams per litre. Laurent Perrier Demi Sec has 45 grams and it smells slightly sweet, but is not cloying. You will notice apple and tropical fruit along with pear. Almonds and hazelnuts are also present. It is perfect with most desserts and ideal for those with a slightly sweet tooth. $57.60.

Hopefully, those millions of tiny, scrubbing bubbles estimated to be in a bottle of sparkling wine, along with the cleansing acidity, will make for a perfect Valentine’s Day treat.

This column is an advertorial for Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. E-mail or 295-0176. Burrows Lightbourn has stores in Hamilton (Front Street East, 295-1554), Paget (Harbour Road, 236-0355) and St George (York Street, 297-0409). Visit