There is a wonderful French proverb that says "In water one sees one's own face; but in wine one beholds the heart of another." Wine is associated with romantic moments and memories; with capturing the heart of someone you love. So it is no wonder that winemaking is considered one of the most romantic jobs in the world. It has a long history and lots of traditions that help create memories that are woven deeply into our everyday lives.
As a winemaker, once the rough and heated phase of the harvest is finally complete, the honeymoon of winemaking begins and peaceful moments in the cellar can be thoroughly enjoyed. The romance of the cellar includes listening to the wine slowly ferment in barrels - little gurgling sounds that are music to my ears. The air is filled with the sweet scent of peach and honey as the ice wine ferments. The aromas and flavors of the fresh, young wines are all distinct and together create a very sensuous and lovely aromatic experience.
Because winemaking is very seasonal, the process remains new and exciting every year (which is probably one of the secrets to keeping the romance of winemaking alive and well). In the meantime I become more experienced and mature, with a bit of gray (ahhh, who am I kidding - with a lot of gray) to prove it. But I guess a little gray is good for a winemaker! Ah-well, age is the tough price we pay for experience.
I think the key to keeping a job romantic is that you really have to love what you are doing. Love is blind, as the saying goes, and this is what allows you to easily look beyond the difficult and tough aspects involved in winemaking or whatever your own passion is.
Equally important is to be able to make a product that you and others love. That is why a chocolatier is also high on the romantic job list. Most everyone loves not only the taste of chocolate but what the chocolate represents – great memories of love, sharing, and giving. Wines can also have this same effect on people who embrace them and some are more romantic than others depending on the occasion or circumstance.
For example, sipping a rosé on a warm summer evening while sitting on the beach and watching a beautiful sunset with someone special is very romantic. Sipping it on a cold, dark, winter night alone in your living room is not. It also depends on what you prefer and what is being served. So if you are serving retsina, the pungent Greek light wine, to which pine sap/resin has been added and which needs an acquired taste to enjoy, chances are high that the romance may be gone before you can get the cork BACK into the bottle!
So here are my safe romantic wine suggestions to help ensure a spellbound evening:
First: Begin with a wonderful sparkling wine which is always a great and safe choice. Perhaps a rosé sparkler. It is festive, sexy, and light. It won’t overpower the beginning of the evening but instead adds an effervescent touch that is stimulating. I prefer a methode champenoise sparkler, which is made in the traditional style of a second fermentation in the bottle. Serve with oysters, gravlax or even caviar, and everything should be on the right path to romance! There are several outstanding sparkling wines made here on Long Island. So make a selection and don’t forget to pick up the unscented candles to establish the mood.
Second: Serve a wine that has a particular meaning or brings back a fond memory for the two of you. This could be a wine from a particular pleasurable vacation or a wine made the year you met, got engaged, or tied the knot. There are many options to explore to find the right wine that will spark the imagination and romantic intrigue. A number of wineries offer selected library wines. Just make sure it was a good vintage with aging stamina!
Third: Think in terms of a remarkable/unique wine. This can be a white or a red wine according to preference and the cuisine being served. It could be a very rich, concentrated wine that needs strong flavors like lamb or venison to accompany it. Or perhaps you have found a very rare and hard to find bottle of beautiful wine to share with someone special, creating a once-in-a-lifetime moment! Almost every winery now makes at least one ultra-luxury wine. Although these wines are not inexpensive, a top-class date deserves a top-class wine. Besides, who wants a cheap date?
Last but not least: A "sticky" wine – a dessert wine of the highest level. Everybody has a sweet tooth. With cheese you catch mice and with wonderful, aromatic, rich, lush, and ultra-sweet late-harvest wines you catch romance! Maybe an ice wine or a late-harvest botrytis dessert wine…or perhaps both! These are fabulous, creamy wines with great flavors of honey, ripe peach, and dried apricots with lively acidity. Pop a chocolate truffle into your mouth and take a sip of the dessert wine and you’ll be in seventh heaven. Then lean toward that special someone and experience the perfect flavored kiss! Is there anything more romantic?
A tried and true romantic dessert:
Sticky Date Pudding with Sauce
- 1 cup flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 1/2 ounces dark chocolate, grated
- 7 ounces chopped pitted dates
- 1 1/4 cups water
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 cup softened butter
- 3/4 cup superfine (castor) sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 1 cup butter
- 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar for dusting
- 3 cups vanilla ice cream
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 12 cup muffin tin. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and chocolate in a small bowl and set aside.
Bring the dates and water to a boil in a saucepan over high heat. Remove from the heat, and stir in the baking soda. Allow the mixture to stand for 5 minutes, then scrape into a blender, and carefully puree until smooth; set aside.
Cream 1/4 cup of butter together with the superfine sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition. Fold in the flour mixture and the date puree until well blended. Spoon into the prepared muffin cups.
Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes. Meanwhile, stir together the cream, brown sugar, and 1 cup of butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat until the butter melts; set aside.
When the puddings have baked for 25 minutes, remove them from the oven, and cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Remove the puddings from the muffin tin, and place them onto a baking sheet. Spoon 2 tablespoons of the sauce over each pudding, then return to the oven and bake for 5 minutes more.
To serve, spoon some of the sauce onto the bottom of a dessert plate, and place a pudding on top. Lightly dust with confectioners' sugar, and top with a scoop of ice cream. Repeat with the remaining date puddings.