I often hear in the media and from personal acquaintances that a lot of women and even more men hate Valentine’s Day.  I can understand if you are single and are looking for romance, but if you have a good thing going and that can mean a lot of things, embrace it. I have and I do and that’s worked pretty good for me for a couple of decades. Many of you who read my dribble know I make reference to Pamalicious and now you can see why I have the feeling of a man who won the lottery every day of my life.

Valentine’s Day should be an excuse for celebration equal to St. Patrick’s Day or Mardi Gras with one big difference—you make this about your partner or one who you wish to have as a partner.  Actually that is all it is. A celebration for the occasion of celebrating, Valentine’s Day does have a focused theme that does not appeal to everyone.  If having a focused relationship is not your thing, the other two previously mentioned celebrations are probably more to your liking and that’s OK.  Now onto why I am so lucky—let me count the ways.

My partner loves fantastic food.  I love to make fantastic food but it comes with a price and that is I am impossible to put up with in a kitchen.  She not only knows that but also puts up with my Prima donna attitude, giving back as much as she gets if she decides to wander into to the fray.  I love to cook for my partner more than I like to eat. For that, I am very lucky.

My partner shares a love for wine that matches the voracity I have for continuously searching for new, different and exciting wine experiences. Every night for twenty years we watch each other with glee as each bottle unwinds its contents like a play performed at a theater or a band doing a show. Sometimes they are good sometimes they are great. If you are really lucky, they were awesome and sometimes it’s just a train wreck. When that happens it can be as entertaining as tasting a wine that is awesome.

I am one of the luckiest men in the world to have someone who I can share that level of desire with. She matches and often exceeds my voraciousness and as her passion is expressed, I am still and listening because there is something to be heard. For that, I am extremely lucky and continuously challenged.  A great friend would make a great foe because they keep you on your toes.  I am inspired to learn and for that, I am very lucky.

For this special occasion, we had set aside a couple of wines from a local winery from Cana’s Feast in Carlton, Oregon. They have a wonderful tasting room and restaurant too. The wines were so unique it was exciting to create some special dishes to pair with these exciting single varietal wines—one  was a Counoise from the Coyote Canyon Vineyard in Washington State’s Columbia Valley AVA from the 2009 vintage.

We paired this with a starter of roasted butternut squash gnocchi (ricotta dumplings) sautéed and served with a soup of roasted squash puree and caramelized shallots.  Simple yet soul-filling flavors let the delicate pure flavors of this varietal really shine through.  Light on its feet, the wine went fantastically well with the winter favors of roasted butternut squash. This is a great food wine. The subtle flavors are diversely complex.  It takes  a dish like the one I  just described to let this wine do it’s magic. The wine had just the perfect amount of acidity to counterbalance  this combination of roasted vegetable textures and flavors. I would say this wine will age well for a few years and will be better after at least one more in the bottle. It was excellent but it will get better–Sold retail at $25 and it is 14.9% ABV and only 116 cases produced.

For our main course we were fortunate enough to have some lovely Oregon lamb Shanks braised in rosemary and red wine served with traditional Gremalota and the awesome 2007 Primitivo from Cana’s Feast (it sells for  $25 retail and is 15.5% ABV), another one of their big bountiful wines from across the border in Washington sourced from the Coyote Canyon in Horse Heaven Hills. For those of you who do not know, Primitivo shares a linage with the Zinfandel Grape and their shared history dates back to Croatia, although most people think Italian when they hear Primitivo. This grape grown in the former wheat fields of Washington takes on a wonderful chameleon characteristic. Big and slightly fruity, the broad shouldered wine with its spicy finish dances after a bite of those lamb shanks cleansed our palates.  We were astounded with the show.  Both these wines put on a show and I have to say other than each other’s company the wines from Cana’s Feast made this occasion stand out as a memory that will be with me for a long time to come. Enjoy your valentines day! Eat well Live well drink well.

~Marc Hinton