With Valentine’s just around the corner we can’t help but think of romantically themed wines. Finding a pretty bottle with hearts on the label seems to be the easiest answer, or of course anything with bubbles. This is where my love of words comes in to play and the first time I heard the name “Dalliance” I was hooked. We were driving from Sacramento to Lake County, California, to visit Shannon Ridge and Vigilance wineries. The head of their national marketing team was polling us (as retailers in the field) on a potential new wine name: Dalliance. I was in love; luckily the wine in the bottle would live up to the clever name.
Webster’s defines dalliance as “an act of dallying” as well as “foreplay” or a “frivolous action.” Dally brings in “to act playfully” or “to play amorously” (with more negative shadings of “to waste time”). In my mind dalliance evokes an amorous affair or a day’s playful escape, since “wasting time” is an art form, especially when wine is concerned. Dalliance is evocative of the experience of opening any bottle of wine, where we are having a short-term affair with the inner contents (perhaps unknown or perhaps returning to a dear old friend). Wine brings us to a state change, relaxing away the day-to-day grind, reminding us to be a little playful as well as mindful. Of all our “Hallmark Holidays” Valentine’s Day is the perfect opportunity to dally and step outside of the box and since the label for the Dalliance Red is a sexy scarlet with a drawing of two figures embracing, it screams romance!
The Dalliance Red is a field blend of Zinfandel, Barbera, Syrah, Tempranillo and Grenache in an “everything but the kitchen sink” kinda style. This is not the usual Cali Zin blend either, with Tempranillo, Syrah and Barbera providing a European minerality and true acid structure. It is ripe and juicy on the forefront with spicy notes of white pepper on the mid-palate. The wine has a deep violet color and a nose of ripe plums and red cherries, with a hint of licorice and spicebox. The wine begins fruity, moves spicy and then finishes jammy, like dried currants soaked in Chambord. Here is an easy-quaffing wine that has just that little something extra to make it a fun wine to pair with all kinds of food, and at $13 per bottle it won’t break your Valentine’s Day budget.
The $12 Dalliance White blend is Viognier, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Riesling, and is so fragrant one can enjoy it with no food at all. The Viognier shines on the nose with soft floral notes, hints of orange blossom and honeysuckle. Dalliance White is just floral enough to make one think this wine might be sweet, but then one gets the crisp and tart Sauvy surprise on the palate. There is something playful in that surprise, where the nose and the tongue don’t quite agree but the final union is fabulous. That is the tension of a dalliance: playful yet comforting. Will it be worth the risk? Is she or he what I’m looking for? Does the depth match the surface?
Pairing with your perfect Valentine’s meal is easy, especially when you have both a white and a red choice. Dalliance Red would pair perfectly with sweet and spicy barbecue (like most Zin dominant wines) but has the elegance to pair with pork tenderloin, especially in a red or black fruit glaze. When I sampled it at the store I paired it with the Dirty Mesquite BBQ potato chips, and it harmonized admirably. Any grilled meats or tempeh, perhaps spicy buffalo style, would also be perfect to pair. Dalliance White pairs perfectly with fatty fish like salmon or blue fish, or just as well with roast chicken, especially if you roast it with fresh herbs, garlic and a quartered lemon stuffed up the center. Both wines have enough acidity to be very food friendly.
In romance it really is the thought that counts, so create a romantic meal to share at home. Both Dalliances are exclusive to and available locally at ABC Fine Wines and Spirits and are light enough to drink on their own or shared with a loved one over a simple cheeseboard with cured meats, olives and dates. Add some fresh grapes and a sliced pear and you have a romantic indoor picnic to share. The jammy Zin characteristics make Dalliance Red a fine wine to pair with chocolate (another Valentine favorite), especially dark chocolate with a little Mexican spice and cinnamon. Dalliance White would also pair with fresh fruit and Greek yogurt or a fruit galette. Whatever you do, make your Valentine’s Day a Dalliance day and you’ll be golden.