Throughout human history February has enjoyed an enduring association with love, romance and fertility. Long before Hallmark cards and heart-shaped boxes of chocolates, many ancient pagan societies celebrated festivals at this time of the year to herald the coming season of rebirth and regeneration. This tradition stretches back at least 5,000 years in Ireland, when pre-Celtic peoples aligned the passageway of the The Mound of the Hostages at Tara to welcome the life-giving early February sunrise. This festival was later adopted by the Celts as Imbolc, one of the four principal festivals of the Celtic calendar. It honoured the love and fertility goddess, Brigid; such an important figure to the Irish that she was later assimilated into the Christian church as one of the country’s patron saints.
Over the centuries the festival has evolved to celebrate romance and love in all its guises. Although we wouldn’t recognise the peculiar hedonistic practices of the ancient Romans’ Lupercalia festival, we do have something telling in common. As with today, the Romans associated the silky texture of red wine with seduction and romance. The grapevine was a sign of virility and fertility, sacred to Venus, the goddess of love and desire. To this day we still recognise the alluring sensuality of the grapevine’s fruit, so this Valentine’s raise a glass to celebrate Venus with some of our favourite romance-inspired wines here at O’Briens.
Valentine’s Day Wines
Bellow’s Rock Sauvignon Blanc, €10 (down from €14.95 for February)
This wine is a firm customer favourite and is the result of the collaboration between three good friends and their wives. With crisp citrus fruit, tropical hints and a silky palate from the addition of Semillon to the blend this wine offers excellent value for money and would be the perfect match for everyone’s favourite aphrodisiacal Valentine’s food: oysters.
Romeo & Juliet Passimento Red, €12.95 (down from €17.95 for February)
For something more seductive, be inspired by that most romantic of lovers. From Shakespeare to Dire Straits, Romeo and Juliet has long been lauded as the ultimate tragic love story. Named in their honour, this wine’s label shows part of Juliet’s wall in Verona, where 3,000 love messages are left daily. Made in the local passimento method, whereby the grapes are dried prior to fermentation, this is a truly seductive, velvet smooth wine.
Bollinger NV Rosé. €83 (receive €23 Back in Loyalty card points until February 17th)
If this Valentine’s day represents a special occasion for you and your loved one, mark it with a bottle of prestigious Bollinger Rosé. Attention to quality and finesse is the hallmark of the Bollinger house. From the high proportion of Grands and Premiers Crus Pinot Noir grapes this sparkling wine offers plenty of luscious red fruits and fine tannins, married to a rich complexity from extended lees ageing. This benchmark rosé Champagne is an excellent match for a wide range of dishes from smoked salmon to wild berry tart. Starting today you will receive €23 back in points on your Loyalty card with every bottle of Bollinger NV Rosé.
Bollinger Aging Cellars, Champagne
Whitehaven Pinot Noir, €19.95 (down from €22.95 for February)
Pinot Noir is the most romantic of the noble grapes- notoriously difficult to cultivate, this Burgundian grape can produce wines of unparalleled complexity once tamed. The Whitehaven Pinot Noir from Marlborough is a fabulous example of the aromatic, intense wine this grape can produce in New Zealand. With an alluring violet tinge, this red offers fresh strawberry, raspberry and sweet spices. A perfect food wine from a wonderful New Zealand producer.
Valhondo Rosado Brut NV, €12.95 (down from €17.95 until February 17th)
Valhondo Rosado is our new pink Cava, produced near the vibrantly romantic city of Barcelona. Made in the Traditional Method, this fresh and easy drinking pink fizz has fast become a customer favourite and for Valentine’s week there is €5 off! Wonderful fresh bramble fruits that would match a Black Forest Gateaux or Wild Berry Cheesecake.
Lanson Rosé Label NV, €47.95 (down from €57.95 for February)
For something more elegant, champagne is the ultimate celebratory wine to treat the one you love. For Valentine’s day O’Briens are offering a discount on a number of big name brands, including Lanson Rosé Label, one of the first rosé champagnes. A seductive soft pink colour in the glass, this wine offers plenty of fresh summer berry fruits on a soft, subtle palate: an ideal match for chocolate dipped strawberries.
So drop in to your local O’Briens Wine where our helpful staff will gladly help pick out that perfect bottle for your Valentine.
Please note: All prices correct at time of publication. For the most up to date prices please contact your local store or online www.obrienswine.ie. Enjoy alcohol responsibly.