Blog featured The Perfect Pair: Your Valentine’s Day Menu & Wine Pairing

The Perfect Pair: Your Valentine’s Day Menu & Wine Pairing

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner - do you have something special planned for your special someone? Between the February weather and packed restaurants, Valentine’s day can be a lot to deal with, but it doesn’t have to be! Forget the reservations and treat your sweetheart to a romantic night in. Because we know you lead a busy life, we made sure that this menu is as simple as it is impressive.

We’re lucky enough to have a culinary school grad, Ana, on our Wine Concierge team, so last week she and I sat down to put together a simple and romantic three-course meal and paired each course with two different Firstleaf wines.

This menu of a bright Winter Citrus Salad, Short Ribs, and Vanilla Panna Cotta for dessert is incredibly simple, beautiful, and sure to impress. So light some candles and put on a romantic playlist and give your Valentine a night to remember. We also created this great pairing pack for you with free shipping! (Limited Time Offer!)

First Course: Winter Citrus Salad

Navel and blood oranges make this winter citrus salad as wonderful to look at as it is to eat! Pair with Threaded Tale 2017 Viognier Blend Paso Robles, California OR Tifosi 2017 Vino Bianco I.G.T. Terre Siciliane

Makes 2 servings

Dressing - Can be made 3 days ahead

  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice.
  • 1 teaspoon honey.
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard.
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt, or to taste.
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil.
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste.
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, honey, mustard, and sea salt
  2. Add 3 tablespoons of the oil in a slow stream, whisking until the dressing is well blended.
  3. Season with fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.


Winter Citrus Salad

  • 2 blood oranges
  • 1 large navel orange
  • 1 avocado
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
  • baby arugula
  • Freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • Slivered toasted almonds (optional)
  1. Slice off the peel and pith from oranges and slice into rounds.
  2. Arrange on a platter or on individual serving plates and sprinkle with mint leaves.
  3. Toss arugula with dressing and season with salt and pepper. Add on top of oranges.
  4. Garnish with cheese and slivered almonds and serve!

Threaded Tale 2017 Viognier Blend Paso Robles, California

Great wines tell a story. From the moment you lay eyes on the bottle to the very last drop there’s narrative. The Threaded Tale Viognier Blend is like a great book that unfolds as you enjoy it. The different grapes in this Viognier blend all play different parts: Viognier is the protagonist, Vermentino is the best friend, Albariño is the love interest, and Verdelho and Chardonnay are secondary characters. With all of them together the plot unfolds with notes of peaches, citrus, and flowers. Crisp acidity and minerality are the subtext, which turns this novel into a choose your own adventure when paired with different foods.

Tifosi 2017 Vino Bianco

Tifosi 2017 Vino Bianco I.G.T. Terre Siciliane

The island of Sicily lies in the Mediterranean Sea, off the boot tip of southern Italy. It’s a sun-drenched island with rolling hills of citrus groves and ancient towns. Winemaking has happened there for thousands of years and has been a staple of their agricultural production alongside olives, salt, and fruit. So, needless to say: they’ve got history, and they know a thing or two about making great wine. The Tifosi Vino Blanco is a crisp and pure Sicilian wine with bright, fresh flavors of spicy cardamom, tangerine, green pear, and minerality. We think that this is perfectly paired with fresh seafood, just like it is in the old country.

Slow Cooker Short Ribs

We know you’re busy - put these short ribs in your slow cooker in the morning and go about your day - they’ll be fall-off-the-bone tender by dinner time! Want to bulk it up? Accompany with polenta or mashed potatoes and make it even more delectable. Pair with Paso Del Tiempo 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon Spain OR Cien Por Ciento 2018 Malbec Argentina

Makes 2 Servings

  • 1 1/2 pounds bone-in beef short ribs
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 2 medium carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 2 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 large onion, cut into 1/2-inch wedges
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 cup of any Firstleaf red wine
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 ½ tablespoon cold water
  1. Season ribs with salt and pepper on both sides. In a large skillet or dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. In batches, brown ribs on all sides; transfer to a 4- or 5-qt. slow cooker. Add carrots, broth, thyme and bay leaf to ribs.
  2. Add onions to the same skillet; cook and stir over medium heat 8-9 minutes or until tender. Add garlic and tomato paste; cook and stir 1 minute longer. Stir in wine. Bring to a boil; cook 8-10 minutes or until liquid is reduced by half.
  3. Add to slow cooker and cook, covered, on low 6-8 hours or until meat is tender.
  4. Remove ribs and vegetables; keep warm. Transfer cooking juices to a small saucepan; skim fat. Discard thyme and bay leaf. Bring juices to a boil.
  5. In a small bowl, mix cornstarch and water until smooth; stir into cooking juices.
  6. Return to a boil; cook and stir 1-2 minutes or until thickened. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste. Serve with ribs and vegetables.

Paso Del Tiempo 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon Spain

The wine experts at Firstleaf have a longstanding love affair with Spanish wine. It’s complex, flavorful, and pairs with all kinds of different foods. The newest wine from Paso Del Tiempo was an immediate hit with our team. They raved about the fruit flavors of blackberry, Boysenberry, and cassis, while noting that it’s not just the fruit that makes this wine great. It also has beautiful secondary notes that make it something more. The fine-grained tannins, notes of tobacco, and light oak give the Paso Del Tiempo Cabernet Sauvignon a savory, restrained finish that allows it to pair with delicate dishes. We can’t wait for you to try it. The judges love it too! It took home 92 points and a Gold medal at the 2018 Sommelier Challenge.

Cien Por Ciento 2018 Malbec Argentina

Drinking a complex wine can be a heady experience. With the fruit forward flavors mellowing into the background, you can discover tastes that aren’t often associated with wine. The new Malbec from Cien Por Ciento starts with a deep color and rich texture. The notes of plum, blackberry, and black cherry dance on the tongue, but are followed by notes that make this wine a true delight to drink. We get rich notes of pepper, dark chocolate, and hints of savory, roast game. There’s something earthy and wild about the flavors, but the part that holds it all together is an intense graphite minerality that plays off the firm structure. It makes the wine a blend of unique flavors that are a delight to sip. Judges love it too and sent it home from the 2019 Texas International Wine Competition and the 2019 Winemaker Challenge with a Silver medal!

Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta

Talk about a show-stopper! Impress your valentine with this creamy Panna Cotta - no ramekins? We like how they look in a wine glass, too! Make this the night before to make it even easier. Pair with Linguist Estates 2017 Rose California OR Monjitas Blancas 2018 Torrontes Argentina

Makes 6 Servings

  • 1 envelope unflavored gelatin (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 2 tablespoons cold water
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
  1. In a small saucepan, sprinkle gelatin over water and let stand about 1 minute to soften. Heat gelatin mixture briefly over low heat until gelatin is dissolved and remove the pan from heat.
  2. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise with a paring knife.
  3. In a large saucepan bring cream, half and half, split vanilla bean and sugar to a simmer while stirring. Remove pan from heat and stir in gelatin mixture. Remove vanilla bean and divide cream mixture evenly among six 1/2-cup ramekins (or wine glasses) and cool to room temperature.
  4. Chill ramekins, covered with plastic film, at least 4 hours or overnight.
  5. Serve panna cotta in ramekin and garnish with mint leaf and lemon twist
Linguist Estates 2017 Rose

Linguist Estates 2017 Rose California

The first release from Linguist Estates was a Firstleaf and wine critic favorite garnering praise from members and wine judges alike. We are happy to announce the return of the Gold medal winning Linguist Estates with this elegant, Provencal-style rosé. This wine is pure and refreshing, with light notes of plum, strawberry, and pomegranate that are bolstered by a bright acidity and dry mouthfeel. It was made intentionally to be paired with food. This is the kind of wine that is at home at almost any table, especially if there is a festive occasion. We think it will go easily with classic roasted poultry or salmon, but the lively acidity means that it can pair well with dishes rich in umami like tomato bruschetta. It recently took home a Gold medal at the 2019 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition and a Silver at the 2019 Winemaker Challenge.

Monjitas Blancas 2018 Torrontes Argentina

Torrontés is a white grape that is known in insider wine circles as a hidden gem. This grape produces wines with prodigious aromas. We love the exotic floral notes of hibiscus, orange blossom, and gardenias that play off of the crisp, sweet citrus flavors. The Monjitas Blancas has these flavors as well as a prominent mineral structure that rounds out the wine. These notes meld together in an elegant and dry finish. The wine works as well on its own as it does with a meal. The complexity does lend itself to pairing with difficult dishes, and in particular, we have been enjoying this wine with spicy Asian cuisines. Judges love it too. It took home a Silver medal at the 2019 Texas International Wine Competition.

New to Firstleaf? Click below to order this introductory bundle of 6 wines chosen to perfectly pair with each recipe! This 6 bottle bundle is only $40 (+free shipping), so order today and give your Valentine a romantic night in for two. 

Already a Firstleaf member? You can still get these wines HERE at member's pricing with free shipping.

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