February is the most romantic month of the year, so spoil your special someone with these fabulous, out-of-the-box wine experiences
The irony of the most romantic day of the year is that it is riddled with clichés, right from scented chocolate-dipped strawberries and cute picture frames to fancy dinners and ruby red roses. Let Sonal Holland, Master of Wine, guide you this year, sharing tips for how you can celebrate this special day with the noble grape and your loved one, making it a Valentine’s Day to remember.
Wine’s indelibly associated with romance: in fact, scientists claim it has the same effect on the body as the love hormone, oxytocin, does. Considered an aphrodisiac, for Dionysus, the Olympian god of grape harvest and winemaking, vino was the symposium of pleasure. And indeed, it is. If white wine is the perfect aperitif, red wine sets the right mood and Champagne is the Zenith of a lovely Valentine’s day. So, wait no longer before you uncork the bottle.
1. A grape escape to a vineyard: Escaping the city for a lovely weekend to experience wine-making and partaking in the wine lifestyle can be an unforgettable experience. Seeing the vines carefully braided on the hills, plump grapes growing on tendrils and the enormous wine vats and oak barrels help you appreciate the delicacy of the beverage and its symbiotic connection to the earth, as you deepen your own bonds with your special someone. Nashik, a few hours from Mumbai, the heart of India’s wine country is filled with India’s best-known wineries, such as Sula Vineyards, Grover Zampa Vineyards, Vallonne Vineyards, and York Winery. Right now, Nashik is in the middle of the harvest season so it is the perfect time to witness how magically the humble grape transforms into a fascinating, delicious drink in the bottle. Travelling to a wine region is the perfect respite from a busy, disconnected city life. If you want to extend your experience, you can even check-in at the sumptuous Tuscan-inspired villas named The Source or at the boutique wine getaway attached to an Asian restaurant, at Vallonne Vineyards.
2. Enrol for a wine course: Learning and growing together is the best togetherness a couple can ask for, so why not share your love of wine with mastering all that you can about this enigmatic beverage? The London-based The Wine & Spirit Education Trust, the world’s foremost wine educator, runs wine education courses through its trusted partners in India. So, you can swirl, sniff and sip your way through a crisp Sauvignon Blanc and a dreamy Pinot Noir while debating over whether you love the pairing of sparkling wine with chocolate or cheese at the food and wine pairing section. Guaranteed, when you leave, you’ll have a new-found respect for vino and its innumerable styles. Isn’t this true love?
3. Gift her a set of crystal wine glasses: Every wine deserves to be drunk out of a decent wine glass; one with an attractive shaped bowl to carry the wine with a slender stem to hold it with. Wine glasses made from crystal are shinier and thinner so they feel delicate and wonderful to hold, thus enhancing your wine experience to a whole new level. Forget the jewellery; this is one bling item that spells class and elegance.
4. A home-cooked, wine-paired meal: Amp up the romance by making a splash. Light the candles, set the table and play jazz in the background to set the tone for a passionate evening. Keep the menu simple, yet fun. Think a cheese fondue pot paired with a glass of refreshing Austrian Riesling or a crisp Chablis. Accompanied by butter seared scallops with a creamy chardonnay. And sweet baby carrots lightly chargrilled with red wine vinegar served with a spicy Grenache. Followed by a roast chicken paired with a soft Pinot Noir. Let this night be the one when you impress your date with your cooking chops and your wine ingenuity too. By all means, end the meal with chocolate-dipped strawberries and a glass of chilled Champagne. Even Escoffier will be proud!
5. A wine-movie marathon: In vino veritas, they say, or in wine, there is truth. Watch some truth-telling on telly, and indulge in some deep conversations yourself. Spend the evening on the couch with your favourite wines and the most flirtatious wine movies ever made. Escape to a world of make-belief with rolling hills, magnificent vineyards, classical chalets and a heavy dose of love. Ridley Scott’s A Good Year takes you to a Provençal vineyard, starring the suave Russel Crowe and the beautiful Marion Cotillard. Or wander into the world of war and roses with the dreamy A Walk in the Clouds, helmed by heartthrob Keanu Reeves, a gushing family drama set in California’s Napa Valley. Else, the laugh-a-minute riot, Sideways is always a classic go-to, with a healthy dose of drama and comedy, and a whiff of whine and wine. Cheers to that!
Author:– By Sonal Holland, Master of Wine
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