Show your love with Champagne

January 30, 2013 

During World War II, Winston Churchill remarked to his troops "Remember gentlemen, it's not just France we're fighting for, its Champagne!" Although Champagne has long been seen as representative of luxury, it is also a symbol of romance and love. The colors red and pink are also symbolic of love and are both associated with Valentine's Day, red for roses and those heart-shaped boxes filled with fine chocolate, but -- ah - pink for delectable Rosé Champagne.

The Moët & Chandon Impérial Rosé makes for a perfect Valentine's Champagne, in both its flavors and packaging. While this Rosé pairs well with entrees ranging from shellfish to red meat, its dry style causes the red fruit flavors of strawberry and raspberry to jump right out onto your tongue, making this wine perfect to drink with just a fresh strawberry in the bottom of your Champagne flute. Both the label and capsule are soft pink in color, and this Champagne is available in several different pink-colored Valentine gift boxes.

Moët & Chandon was founded in 1743 and is one of the more storied and prestigious Champagne houses. Moët produces several different Champagnes, including the Moët & Chandon Impérial Brut which replaced the very popular and sweeter "White Star" label that was only available in the United States.

The Impérial Brut is dry and crisp, with citrus aromas, followed by spicy flavors of peach and pear. Moët's Impérial has been produced since 1869 and is one the best-selling Champagnes worldwide. You

can drink this Champagne with any course from appetizer through dessert. A favorite pairing is oysters on the half shell and sushi, but I also enjoy it with a freshly baked chocolate cream pie.

Both of these Champagnes are blends of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay. For those unfamiliar with Pinot Meunier, it is a red grape that adds body and richness to the final product. In December, the Wine Spectator magazine rated the Impérial Rosé 91 points and the Impérial 92 points.

For those who prefer an Italian Sparking that is more on the sweet side, try the Rosa Regale which is produced by John and Harry Mariani -- the family proprietors of Banfi Vintners. Banfi is the oldest U.S. wine importer to remain in continuous business since being founded in 1919.

The Rosa Regale label has a single rose on it, which in my mind represents the aroma of rose petals that is notably the first bouquet that exits the bottle once the cork is removed. This sparkling wine has nice notes of fresh strawberries and raspberries. It will pair nicely with any fine chocolate and it only has 7 percent alcohol content. Rosa Regale is produced from the Brachetto grape that is widely planted in Piedmont region of Italy.

Regardless of which choice you make to share with your Valentine, just remember that there is something special in those little bubbles that causes a flute of Champagne to appear so romantic.

Jim Rawe, a family attorney in Bradenton, is an avid collector of fine wines. His column appears weekly. He can be reached at jimrawe@gmail.com.

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