MODESTO -- Valentine's Day has long been popular for popping open a bottle of champagne or sparkling wine.
While red is the color associated with the day, pink is the choice to consider when selecting a bottle of sparkling wine.
Look for brut rosé on the label to get festive color in a glass. Some blanc noirs display a salmon color, which may work too. Both styles tend to offer slightly more fruit in their flavors than most brut types, and premium selections usually utilize pinot noir to obtain the color. Here are some favorites, including a deep red sparkler from Italy.
Moet Chandon Brut Rosé: Classic dry champagne from France offers nice acidity and fruity middle that shows a touch of strawberry in its flavors and color. A terrific splurge at about $45.
Simonnet-Febvre Brut Rosé: Here is a chance to keep it French but at a fraction of the price of a true Champagne. This Burgundy region dry rosé displays crisp flavors with a hint of raspberry fruit on the finish. Around $16.
Korbel Brut Rosé: More of a smoked salmon in color, this semi-dry California sparkler is full-flavored with plenty of gumdrop and plum notes; a good match with a cured or smoked salmon appetizer. Korbel's blanc noir, a recent big winner at last month's San Francisco wine competition, is lighter in color but shows more complex flavors and intensity. Both can be found for under $12.
Moretto Fattoria Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro: This foamy red is dry and loaded with character. It is dark and grapey, but not sweet or like soda pop. Especially works with rich and gutsy foods. $18.
Barefoot Pink Moscato: If you crave bubbles for dessert, muscats are popular, and the Barefoot provides plenty of simple, grapey sweet flavors; a double gold medal winner at the SF wine competition. If you decide to open it with a dessert, stay away from pairing it with equally sweet choices for fear of its cloying flavors. Think dark chocolate. Sells for less than $9.
Wine picks are from Tom Bender, wine instructor at Columbia College and wine steward for O'Brien's Market, 4120 Dale Road, Modesto, 545-8100. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.