Valentine’s Day.

Red heart shaped cards, and pink boxes of chocolates, and jewelry boxes filled with diamonds.

Romance. Roses. Strawberries dipped in chocolate. A Nora Ephron movie. Special dinners, amazing food, amazing drink.

Looks of love, and lust. Kisses, touches, hugs, holds, embraces, caresses, fondles, petting.

Whispers, pleas, laughs, sighs, yeses, purrs, moans, screams.

Hotel rooms, bubble baths, massages, candles, heavy sheets, rich comforters, big pillows.

Soft music playing, saxophone, piano, sultry soulful voice; smoky jazz or dirty blues.

An ice bucket, two glasses, a bottle of pink bubbly.

Hopefully, I didn’t lose you there. I know that the words “pink bubbly” are enough to cause more shrinkage in men than a swim in an ice cold pool.

Guys drink beer. Guys don’t drink frilly, frothy, or pink drinks.

But let’s be honest, most guys don’t buy cards, or candy, or flowers, or jewelry, or watch chick flicks on a regular basis either. Most guys are not particularly romantic, or given to extravagant displays of affection.

Valentine’s Day is the one day each year when guys go all out to show their gal just how much they love them, and hopefully have a night of lovemaking that transcends what happens most other nights of the year.

As long as guys are willing to do unusual things, either for romance itself, or to improve the likelihood of getting lucky – or the quality of the event – I would heartily recommend picking up a bottle of pink bubbly for Valentine’s Day night.

Champagnes and Sparkling Wines are often made from Chardonnay grapes, but in the pink or Rosé bubblies the red wine grape Pinot Noir is most often used. The Pinot Noir is crushed, and the skins are left with the juice long enough to impart a beautiful color, and more flavor and complexity.

Wine collectors, and drinkers of the best Champagne, pay more, often much more, for the Rosé Champagnes, or Brut Rosé, than for a non blush Brut Champagne.

Most folks upon tasting a Brut and Brut Rosé side by side blindfolded will choose the Brut Rosé. The cool thing is that any guys picking up a bottle of pink bubbly to share with their Valentine are going to look knowledgeable, confident in their masculinity, and much more attractive – all boding well for later that night.

The bonus is that you will likely find something delicious to share that you can come back to throughout the year, injecting a little Valentine’s Day magic into any night.

I tasted three pink bubblies so you can get lucky. That is how generous I am. Follow my lead, pick one of these three, or another delicious sparkler for Valentine’s Day night, or any date night, and make it special.

NV Korbel California Champagne Brut Rosé, 12% alc, 1.5% dosage, $10-$12

A blend of Pinot Noir, Chenin Blanc and Gamay, this bubbly wine makes me smile just thinking of it. I grew up with Korbel Champagne. Almost a neighbor, Korbel brandy was in the liquor cabinet and Korbel Champagne was poured at events.

My brother and I tasted a lot of wine and bubbly growing up, and not wealthy we looked for the best Champagne or sparkling wine for the lowest price. There are certainly less expensive bubblies than Korbel, but most of the ones you know about taste terrible. There are certainly fancier more exquisite bubblies than Korbel, but most of them are incredibly expensive. It is in Korbel that I found a wine made in the traditional method, with more than a little care, that tastes good. In the case of the Brut Rosé, really good.

Located at 13250 River Road, Guerneville, CA 95446, in the Russian River Valley, you will find Korbel, with tours, tastings, and gardens for picnicking. I have sent countless people on Korbel’s tour. To make their Champagne, they have to do everything to make still wine, plus the extra steps to make it bubbly. The tour explains it all, and is among the best tours in California’s wine country.

The tour always winds up in the tasting room, where you can taste more styles of Champagne than you imagined exited, from very sweet to very dry. You will learn why the sweetest is labelled “extra dry” and, if you are like me, you may begin a lifelong love affair with Brut Rosé bubblies.

I need to stop here and explain that typically bubblies produced in Champagne France using traditional methods are referred to as Champagne. Bubblies made outside Champagne France using the same traditional methods are typically referred to as Sparkling Wines. Korbel unapologetically calls their bubblies California Champagne, and has for over one hundred years. I am fine referring to Korbel as such.

NV is short for Non-Vintage, which means wines made from grapes of more than one vintage were blended or that the vintage was not declared by choice or custom.

The first two things you note when pouring a glass of Brut Rosé are visual, the color and the bubbles. The Korbel Brut Rosé is light orange rose color, and the bubbles are tight and lively.

I need to talk about the three wine grapes that make up this Brut Rose. Pinot Noir is the heart of Burgundy’s red wines and Champagne’s Rosé Champagnes. Grown in the Russian River Valley, it produces beautiful flavors. Chenin Blanc and Gamay are largely used as blending grapes by the wine industry, but delicious varietal wines can be made from these grape varieties.

Cherry and strawberry flavors follow identical aromas. Fruit flavors abound, clean and straightforward. A nicely balanced wine, with the fruity sweetness balanced by acidity. The bubbles, color, and flavor delight.

I like the Korbel CA Champagne Brut Rosé, and I like that I can easily find it in many stores, even when I travel.

2005 Jeriko Estate Brut Rosé Sparkling Wine, Mendocino County, 12% alc, $49

100% handpicked for whole cluster organically grown Pommard clone Pinot Noir grapes from Jeriko Estate were used in this Sparkling Wine. America’s first Blanc de Noir created from 100% organically grown and certified organic Pinot Noir grapes.

Jeriko Estate wrote:

This Pommard clone Pinot Noir was sent directly to the press after harvesting, crushed & underwent a cool fermentation in stainless steel with minimum skin contact – this gives the wine its unique pale pink pearl color. The juice was then matured in stainless steel for 12 months. The wine was bottled & given a dosage of sugar & yeasts, & left for a second fermentation in the bottle for 12 months. The bottles were riddled & disgorged, before being given a final top-up of the same still Pinot Noir.

I tasted the Brut Rosé at Jeriko Estate’s tasting room this week with Tasting Room and Wine Club manager J.J. Cannon.

It should be noted that while Korbel is huge and their bubblies are available almost everywhere, there were only 180 cases of the 2005 Jeriko Estate Brut Rosé made and it is rarer in every way. More attention is given at almost every step, from grape choice and method of growing the grapes, to harvest and fermentation. This is a one grape, one vineyard, organic bubbly. It is special.

Apricot Rose in color, this Brut Rosé had lovely small beaded bubbles. A delightful aroma of peachy light raspberry and a delicate toasty mousse gave way to raspberry flavor and nice acid, balance, mineral and complexity.

J.J. told me that the tasting room would be pairing their Brut Rosé with Chocolates Saturday, February 12, 2011 from 11:00 am – 4:00 pm and offering all wines at 15 off for a Valentine’s Day event. Danny Fetzer, the winery owner, came into the tasting room and said there might even be chocolate dipped strawberries and Brut Rose paired Saturday at Jeriko Estate.

With only 180 cases produced, and limited distribution, you may have to visit or order it from the tasting room, the winery and tasting room is located at 12141 Hewlitt & Sturtevant Road, Hwy 101, Hopland CA 95449.

While at Jeriko Estate, I tasted another wine, and took more pictures, and will post them in a near future piece.

NV Champagne Bollinger Rosé, Grands and Premiers Crus from La Montagne de Reims and La Côte des Blancs, Aÿ France, 12.5% alc, 7-10 g/l dosage, $100

62% Pinot Noir, 24% Chardonnay, 14 % Meunier including 5% of still red wine.

I have friends who are wealthy through feats of visionary imagination or industry, and who could drink Bollinger nightly. I am not that fortunate, so being able to taste this was a treat indeed for me, although having tasted it puts it on my list of things to taste again, and again.

Pale pink and sunset salmon color, beautiful string of pearls bubbles rising uninterrupted.

Aromas of cherry and raspberry with baking spice and citrus, complex toasty vanilla nut and dried herb. Many layered flavor notes, rich, unbelievable profusion of notes, strawberry, candied cherry, raspberry, cassis, and toasty lees. Massive yet restrained by solid acid, incredible balance.

Champagne Bollinger is THE British Champagne, having been awarded the Royal Warrant by seven British Monarchs, been served at the nuptials of Prince Charles and Princess Diana, and perhaps most importantly it is James Bond’s Champagne of choice, having been ordered by Bond both in Ian Fleming’s novels and in no fewer than 11 movies from Live and Let Die to Quantum of Solace.

Almost defying description, Champagne Bollinger Rosé is at once both robust and delicate. I get why Bond orders food with his Bollinger, this beautiful Champagne can handle being paired with many food and hold its own.

1,400 cases produced with almost worldwide distribution makes this a semi rare wine, you will have to seek it out at a finer wine shop or order it online.

So, there you go, notes on three pink bubblies. All were delicious, and of course the price asked allows for greater complexity in the bottle, so it really comes down to what you are looking for and what you are willing to spend. I hope you have a great Valentine’s Day filled with love and romance. I hope you get lucky. I hope you try a pink bubbly, which might help you with the love, romance, and getting lucky. Having tried it, I hope you love it as much as I do, try others, and see about enjoying Rosé Champagne and Sparkling Wines more than just once a year in February.

Other local Mendocino County Pink bubblies of note, not tasted this time around, but well worth a taste:

Rack & Riddle Sparkling Rosé $24

2006 Handley Cellars Brut Rosé, Anderson Valley Estate Vineyard $40

Roederer Estate Brut Rosé NV $25

Roederer Estate L’Ermitage Rosé 2003 $70

Thanks, and cheers!

DISCLOSURE: Brown-Forman sent me the Korbel CA Champangne Brut Rose, Terlato Wines sent me the Champagne Bollinger Rosé, and Jeriko Estate waived the tasting charge for their Jeriko Estate Brut Rose. Thank you all.