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Wine will enhance the romance

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"If a life of wine, women and song becomes too much, give up the singing." -- Anonymous

There's something about clinking glasses filled with a red-colored liquid that sets a sexy scene for Valentine's Day. Gazing at a lover's face over a brimming goblet primes us for romance and whatever else might arise. Assuming these aphrodisiac qualities create the craving, it's no wonder wine historically flies off the shelves during Valentine's. Wine makes us giddy with youthful energy; causes us to say sappy things and mean them; magnifies a sensual moment; and makes everything taste oh-so much better. It's pretty amazing how a thoughtfully chosen bottle of wine can increase the pleasure of a simple Valentine's meal. Remember that on romantic holidays, it really is the thought that counts.

For many people, pink champagne is the quintessential Valentine's Day wine, romantic for its tiny stars floating to the top, soft color, and rarity. To attain the famous rose color, a small amount of Pinot Noir wine is added at the blending stage after the first fermentation. Not much of this is around, so it's pricier than most sparklers. But a nice bottle of red is equally sensual, with its warming, languorous effect.

But why wine's romantic reputation? There are plenty of theories, but one is that society crafted it so. Wine descriptors are rife with romantic adjectives like silky, smooth and velvety, and winemakers are treated as artists since they pour their heart and soul into each bottle. No other edible item reflects its producer's personality as much as a bottle of wine. Wine gives you that ultra-relaxed, open-to-anything feeling -- a buzz different than most alcoholic beverages.

So whether you're creating a meal for that special someone, or treating him/her to a night on the town, remember it's not the price that counts, it's the love in the bottle.

Recommended WinesJustin 2000 Cal Italia Smooth talking Italian grapes like Sangiovese define this light blend from California's Central Coast. The endless black cherry flavor will wiggle its way into your sweetie's heart. $14

1999 Sterling Three Palms Merlot Absolutely fabulous wine that will knock your honey's socks off...and maybe something else. Sexy, intense fruit cornucopia of flavors with red berries, grapes and plums. Not for the faint of wallet. 1/2 $45

Cinnabar 2000 Mercury Rising A Bordeaux blend -- meaning a blend of grapes that all hail from that French region -- this fruit forward, ripe cherry, delicious juice will definitely make the mercury rise. Truly a bargain at around $18. 1/2

Liparita Cellars 2001 Sauvignon Blanc For your honey that prefers whites, here's a Napa Valley beauty that loves food. Loaded with uncharacteristic creaminess, this Sauvignon Blanc has perfectly balanced acids and a melon aroma that will romance anyone. 1/2 $18

Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Rose Champagne A full-bodied, dry and intense French rose Champagne. You can't run from the titillating dried cherry aroma and rich, smooth feeling on your tongue. Might be suitable for belly-button shots. 1/2 $38

Bonny Doon Framboise, Infusion of Raspberry For something sweet and fun for your fun sweetie, try this whimsical wine from the wacky folks at Bonny Doon. Rich, chock full of raspberry essence, this sensational wine is even under $12.

The Wine ListARTHUR'S RESTAURANTS AND WINE SHOPS 4400 Sharon Rd. Class will be held on Feb. 12 from 6:30-8pm. This class, taught by Chris Black of Mutual Distributing, will explore wine from France's Burgundy region. $20 per person. 704-366-8610.

BARONE'S WINE ROOM offers wine tastings every Wednesday night from 6-8pm. The cost is $10. Barone's is located in Birkdale Village, Huntersville. Call 704-987-0011 for more information.

CAROLINA WINE CLUB Winter classes will be held at the Mint Museum of Craft and Design from 6:30-8pm. Four Series: Series II: Session I, Feb. 11- Wine and Chocolate; Session II, Feb. 18-Wine and Cheese Pairings for Everyday and Special Occasions; Session III, Feb. 25-Exploring Wines and Ports; Individual Sessions $30; each series of classes $100 (mix and match any four sessions from any series). Call 704-344-8027 for reservations.

KEE KEE RIKEE 219 Main St., Pineville, will host a wine tasting on Feb. 15, 1-5pm, with wines from Vino Vino Distributors. Free. Call 704-889-5333.

NECTAR 1730 E. Woodlawn Rd. Wine tastings will be held the last Tuesday of every month from 5:30-7:30pm. There will be six wines tasted, which will follow a monthly theme. $15 per person includes light hors d'oeuvres. 704-519-4174.

SOMETHING CLASSIC AT THE VILLA 715 Providence Road. Wine & food tastings are held from 5:30-8pm on the last Wednesday of the month at Something Classic. For more information, call 704-347-3666.

SOUTHERN SPIRITS announces Winter Wine Classes. Feb. 5 & 12: California Revealed, $40. Learn about and taste wines from various appellations and find out what makes them unique. All classes are held from 7-8:30pm. Located on Hwy 521, 3 miles south of Ballantyne. Call 803-548-8888 to register.

WINE TASTINGS AT REID'S 7TH ST. WINE SHOP Every Wednesday night at the Wine Bar from 5:30-7:30pm, very informal. Three wines will be tasted each week. Cost is $10 per person. Call 704-513-7014.

Wine tastings, classes, or other wine-related events will be listed at the discretion of the editors. Send information to Creative Loafing one of three ways: Fax to 704-944-3605; email to lindsey.herman@cln.com; or by regular mail at 6112 Old Pineville Rd. Charlotte, NC 28217.

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