Valentine’s Day is a day for Love. We decided to go all-in on our Valentine’s Pairings. I encourage you to celebrate, spoil your partner or a relative or friend that you are sheltering with during the pandemic. Celebrate with your fur baby, with a bit of this steak for your favorite pooch, and pull out a can of tuna and a fancy plate for your feline Overlord! Or just bust out a bottle and spoil yourself! You deserve it!
L’Ecole No. 41 2017 Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
I know…we just did a L’Ecole Cabernet Sauvignon. Well, this is a different wine. This is their 2017 Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, and it’s perfect for Valentine’s Day because it pairs so well with so many things!
This Cabernet comes from Washington’s largest AVA the Columbia Valley AVA. It covers a full 1/3 of the landmass of Washington. It is sourced from vineyards across this AVA that L’Ecole No. 41 has built a relationship with over the years.
You’ll find a blend of fruit from a few vineyards in here: Candy Mountain, Estate Seven Hills, Alder Ridge, Klipsun, Summit View, Bacchus & Dionysus, Pepper Bridge, Stone Tree, Loess, Yellow Jacket, Estate Ferguson & Stone Valley. These vineyards take in several sub AVAs within the Columbia Valley AVA, including Horse Heaven Hills, Wahluke Slope, Red Mountain, and Candy Mountain. These vineyards are older and proven. It creates a marriage of flavors.
The wine has notes of black currant, blackberry, and spice on the nose. It is soft and round in its mouthfeel with soft suede-like tannins that coat your mouth unevenly. On the palate, in addition to the fruit notes, I found dusty cocoa and mocha notes.
This wine is created to be rounded and approachable and is probably their most widely distributed wine. (They also have this available in splits 375 ml available on their site, under special sized bottles).
100% Cabernet Sauvignon – 14.5% abv – 5,600 cases produced – $29.00 SRP
*We received this wine as a media sample. No other compensation was received. All opinions are our own.
So what to pair with a Washington Cabernet Sauvignon for Valentine’s Day?
With our 3 menus we tried to create a little something for everyone this Valentine’s Day, from a low-key celebration with burgers, to a vegan menu and finally a fancy dinner menu with dessert. You can mix and match to suit your needs, but all of these dishes will go great with the wine.
Valentine’s Day Menu #1 – the relaxed menu – burgers and corn chips. Oh, and bacon jam.
Okay, burgers and chips may not sound very sexy, but go with me on this. A juicy burger topped with blue cheese that is oozing and melted, add some sautéed mushrooms, bacon jam (yes, I said bacon jam), and a bit of arugula (got to keep it healthy right?). This is a match made in heaven for this Cabernet.
The bacon jam is life-changing my friends.
Now you want to know about the corn chips. Well, we went with cheddar cheese Sun Chips. That bit of cheese flavor? Yep, it’s good with the wine. Cabernet Sauvignon and cheddar cheese corn chips, it’s a thing y’all.
Valentine’s Day Menu #2 – The Vegetarian or Vegan Menu – Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms and Grilled Purple Cabbage with Balsamic Marinade
So you or your significant other don’t do meat? What meatless meal can you pair with a Cabernet Sauvignon for Valentine’s Day? Well, this portabella mushroom is stuffed with as many ingredients as there are vineyards in this wine! (or thereabouts). The mushrooms are stuffed with zucchini, onion, red pepper, sundried tomatoes, garlic, spinach, then breadcrumbs (you can get gluten-free), parmesan cheese (or nutritional yeast), and mozzarella (they have vegan mozzarella!). This is so good! I really think the sundried tomatoes are what puts it over the edge to extra delicious. While all the pairings were delicious, this was the best with the wine.
But you need a side dish, right? We did wedges of purple cabbage, made a marinade of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, garlic, honey, and salt and pepper, and grilled this up on a grill pan on the stove. This is so good. The balsamic vinegar and the charred bits from the grill lines tie it nicely wine.
Valentine’s Day Menu #3 – Time to get fancy – Steak with Gorgonzola Sauce and Cheesy Polenta, an Arugula Berry Salad and a Chocolate Tart with Forest Berries
Stick with me! This is fancy but very doable. First off, the tart Is a no-bake recipe with a crust of Oreos! This is easy and takes no time (other than setting for a couple of hours in the fridge, when you can be doing something else). Dressing it up with berries makes it look super elegant.
The cheesy polenta is easy and just needs a little time, which you’ve got while you are making the steak and gorgonzola sauce! OMG, the gorgonzola sauce is life-changing. You can cook the steak and the sauce at the same time on the stove, while the polenta burbles away on a back burner. Finish off your sides by tossing together the salad, with arugula, berries, and a vinaigrette of mashed berries, balsamic, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Top it with some sliced almonds.
And then…the chocolate tart. This is so easy, so beautiful, and sooooo delicious. The crust is crushed Oreos with some melted butter. The filling is chocolate ganache. That’s just chocolate and heated heavy creme. You stick it in the fridge for a few hours and then top it with berries and fresh mint and sprinkle on a little powdered sugar, and “Voila” (as my favorite clown used to say)! Soooo good!
Bonus Valentine’s Day Cheese Plate
But maybe you are not up for cooking. Maybe, you just want to order delivery? Go for it. You do your day your way!
Here’s a simple cheese plate you can put together to munch on while you cook, or wait for delivery.
I happen to love cheese plates curled up on the couch with a RomCom or a Horror Flick, whatever your style is.
To pair with this L’Ecole No. 41 Cabernet, try blue cheese, dried figs, blackberries, almonds, blueberries, fresh red pepper slices, blueberries, parmesan curls, raspberries, bacon jam (yep I had some leftover), camembert, strawberries, and/or dark chocolate.
Although I didn’t have any, you could add, walnuts, charcuterie like Prosciutto or a peppery Italian dry sausage, black cherries or a black cherry jam, mint, and maybe dark chocolate covered espresso beans.
Pick your plan and celebrate love in all its forms!
This is all delicious and so doable! Pick your adventure and pick up a bottle of this Cabernet Sauvignon and Celebrate Love in all its forms this Valentine’s Day!
We’ve included the recipe cards below and we will be rolling out posts with details and tips for these recipes over the rest of the week.
Here’s wishing all of you a wonderful Valentine’s Day!
Robin Renken is a wine writer and Certified Specialist of Wine. She and her husband Michael travel to wine regions interviewing vineyard owners and winemakers and learning the stories behind the glass.
When not traveling they indulge in cooking and pairing wines with food at home in Las Vegas.