Have you ever noticed that Valentine’s Day falls during a cold and dark time of year?  I like to think that Cupid planned it that way on purpose.  Maybe he knew that just what we need to get through the middle of the winter is a reminder that life is better when we share close and romantic moments with the person we love.  The middle of winter is also the perfect time to enjoy red wine from Niagara!  Usually heavier than whites, often drier, and served at a warmer temperature, this Valentine’s Day rekindle your amourous feelings for your special someone by sharing one of these delicious red wines from Niagara’s wineries together.

PondView Estate Winery’s 2013 Bella Terra Meritage – $44.95

“Meritage” is North America’s take on a Bordeaux-style wine.  This wine is always made up of a classic assemblage of at least three red grape varieties, including Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot.  PondView Estate Winery’s “Bella Terra” series wines are made from grapes that are hand-harvested from their own vineyards in the Four Mile Creek sub-appellation, which is an area that is known for growing grapes that make fruit-forward wines.  The 2013 Bella Terra Meritage is full-bodied and dry, with a soft mouthfeel and silky tannins, possessing flavours of ripe dark berries and an unmistakeable note of dark chocolate.  PondView Estate Winery suggests cellaring this wine for 10 to 12 years for further development in the bottle, but if you lack the patience to wait, never fear, because it is drinking excellent now.

13th Street Winery 2016 Cabernet Franc – $24.95

I like to think of Cabernet Franc as “the king of the reds” in Niagara.  It is a grape that we grow very well, given that it is naturally an early ripener and therefore is well suited to Niagara’s cooler growing climate.  13th Street Winery’s 2016 Cabernet Franc is full-bodied and dry, with chewy tannins and flavours of blueberry and gravel.  Yes, gravel.  Any time a wine tastes of an element that is akin to rocks or stones we describe it as “minerality.”  The grapes for this wine were grown in the Creek Shores sub-appellation which is located on the Queenston Shale formation, a land mass made up of sedimentary rock.  This is an area that is known for producing grapes that make wines possessing minerality.  On a recent visit to the tasting bar at 13th Street Winery a friend turned to me and exclaimed, “Michael, if you want to drink a quarry, try this one!”  Minerality is one of my favourite flavours to experience in wine.  Surrounded by fruit flavours, minerality really lifts a wine and makes it sing.

Vieni Estates Zi Mari Red Sparkling Wine – $16.95

Wait a minute—red sparkling wine?  That’s a thing?  You betcha!  While more popular in European countries like Spain and Portugal, red sparkling wine is also available in the Ontarian market from select wineries.  The most important thing to know about red sparkling wine is that you must treat it like it is a white sparkling wine.  Keep it in your refrigerator before opening it!  Opening any sparkling wine at room temperature can cause frothy wine to spill out of the bottle and can make the cork fly out with dangerous force.  Serve the wine chilled in a sparkling wine flute.  Vieni Estates’ Zi Mari Red Sparkling Wine is made from an assemblage of Pinot Noir, Baco Noir, and Pinot Meunier grapes.  It is medium-to-full bodied and dry, with intense fruit flavours of dark cherry, red raspberry, and red current.  A delightful and refreshing choice that will surprise!

I recommend pairing any of these wines with a cheese and charcuterie platter featuring meats and cheese that are produced right here in Canada.  A cheese and charcuterie platter can be fun to make together with your romantic partner and even more fun to share!

While sharing that wine and charcuterie, why not let your hunnie know that you’ll be taking him or her on a romantic tour of Niagara’s wine country?  Visit some of the wineries featured here and take home the wines you love!  Wine Tours are going out daily.  Call our guest services agents at 1-866-628-5428 for more information or to book a tour today!


Michael Twyman – Sommelier and Niagara Wine Country Guide for Niagara Vintage Wine Tours and Bootleggers

* The opinions and recommendations in this article are solely those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect Niagara Vintage Wine Tours.