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Wine or Roses for Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day. While flowers are never a bad option, wine and wine-related gifts can be even more romantic and put a real exclamation point on your affection.

The challenge is finding the right bottle of wine for that special person in your life. With that in mind, here is my list of romantic favorites that should please your Valentine. (And, just because it's "pink" doesn't mean white Zinfandel is the answer!)

White Can Be Right

To choose the right wine for a romantic gift you need to know something about the tastes of your mate. For those who favor white wine, consider a nice Chardonnay or even Sauvignon Blanc.

The Chardonnay is a more complex wine with hints of butter and oak. Great Chardonnays are very drinkable but also seem a bit heavy for more social wine drinkers. That said, Chardonnays are a great pick for the more seasoned white wine lover.

My tastes take me right to the top of the list and the Far Niente Chardonnay. Probably $45 to $60 at your local wine store, Napa's Far Niente crafts a very smooth yet complex Chardonnay. From the initial taste to the finish on the palate, the buttery nature of this exceptional Chardonnay is very noticeable but not overwhelming.

The great characteristic of the Far Niente Chardonnay is its subtleties. While the buttery overtones are clear, they are not intrusive. And, the hint of oak is distinct but not overwhelming like so many of today's less complex Chardonnays.

In addition, you get a great label and bottle that tells a story. One of the hallmarks of my wine gifting is including a brief description of the vineyard from which it came. Now, I'm not suggesting touting the Wine Spectator or Parker score of a particular wine (that's a bit snobbish for me) but, rather, a bit of history of the winery or the winemaking process of the gift. Most of the time, it's as easy as finding a winery's Web site.

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