Wine writers complain a lot about Thanksgiving, and how difficult it is to recommend wines for the turkey fest, but the holiday they really dislike is Valentine’s Day. What’s the point of pairing wine with chocolate?

Having said that, Valentine’s Day is — next to Thanksgiving — perhaps the most requested wine recommendation holiday on the calendar. What can I buy my girlfrend? What would my husband like? And is there wine that goes with chocolate? I actually get more requests for Valentine’s Day wine than I do for New Year’s Eve.

Never fear, though. Champagne and sparkling wine fit Valentine’s Day like a red paper heart (and yes, you can even drink it with chocolate). Keep in mind that sparkling wine is made throughout the world, but that only sparkling wine made in the Champagne region of France can be called champagne.

So if you’re wondering where to go with Valentine’s Day wine, here are three sparkling suggestions:

• Freixenet Cordon Rosada Brut ($11). Spanish bubbly is called cava, and this one is more fruity (some citrus) than similarly priced cavas. In this, it’s more like champagne and is a nice change of pace.
• Château Moncontour Vouvray Brut ($17). This sparkling wine is from the French region of Loire and is made with chenin blanc; most champagne and California bubbly is made with chardonnay. That means the Moncatour is a little more acidic and a touch sweeter.
• Pol Roger White Foil Brut ($45). The real stuff, with champagne’s classic green apple and great bubbles that stream to the top of the glass.

Pineapple upside-down cake

This is one of those recipes people forget about, then make, and wonder why they haven’t done it sooner. And it’s not as difficult as it seems, either. The twist here? Used canned crushed pineapple instead of the traditional pineapple rings. The cake will pair nicely with almost any sparkling wine.

Roughly 60 minutes for one 9-inch cake


1 8-oz can crushed pineapple, drained
3 tbsp butter
3/4 c packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 tbsp plain yogurt and 6 tbsp plain yogurt, separated
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 c all-purpose flour
3/4 c sugar
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 stick butter, softened

1. Preheat the oven to 350. Place the 3 tablespoons butter in a 9-inch skillet or 9-inch round cake pan, and put the pan in the oven until the butter melts.
2. Tilt the pan to cover all sides of with melted butter. Sprinkle the brown sugar evenly over the bottom of the pan, and then cover the brown sugar with the crushed pineapple.
3. Whisk together the eggs, vanilla and 2 tablespoons of yogurt. Mix the dry ingredients in a food processor, and then add the softened butter and remaining yogurt. Blend well. Then add the egg mixture, and mix until just blended.
4. Cover the fruit in the pan, smooth evenly, and bake 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean. Take the cake out of the oven, and tilt the pan in all directions. This will loosen it from the sides.
5. Let cool for a couple of minutes, and then — very carefully, using oven mitts — put a plate on the top of the pan and turn the cake onto the plate. Lift off the pan, and scrape any mixture off.