Wine column: A Valentine’s wine list for pet lovers

02/04/2012 12:00 PM |

Valentine’s Day is a delicious day to celebrate love. For those who have been blessed with a charming and romantic partner, it’s not difficult to find a way to spend Feb. 14 together. A huge industry is ready to reinforce your every passionate instinct by selling you roses, chocolates, Champagne — even diamonds. I can suggest a roster of appealing wines, too, depending on your pocketbook and proclivity, from insincere Prosecco to hearts a-flutter Côtes de Nuits burgundy to seal-the-deal Roederer Cristal.

But what if Valentine’s Day is difficult for you? If you are on your own, without a honey, this can be the loneliest day of the year. One solution is to get together with friends and drown your sorrows with beer. Another, if you are a true homebody who prefers an evening with your pet to a night out at Applebee’s, is to mellow out chez vous in sweet harmony with your furry, feathered or scaly pet companion. You’ll have a good time; the pet can watch you, and you won’t have to share the bottle because pets don’t drink alcohol.

Here is a guide to what type of wine to choose depending on what sort of pet you have, including specific suggestions from local wineries and/or faraway vineyards.

Cats
1. A sweetheart kitty who follows you around trilling: Raphael’s full-flavored but youthful 2010 Sauvignon Blanc; Guy Saget’s Les Perrières (Loire).

2. An irascible, hair-raised, skittish kitty: Peconic Bay 2010 Dry Riesling, with plenty of zesty acidity but enough enticing aroma to calm everyone down; Ravines Finger Lakes 2010 Riesling.

3. An old tomcat who would rather not sit with you but will just this one time: Grapes of Roth 2004 Merlot, dark and tenacious and extremely lovable despite its challenging character; Ridge Vineyards California Zinfandel.

4. A soft and purry cat who will sit on your lap but is somewhat elitist: Bedell Cellars 2007 Musée (Bordeaux blend), if you can find it, or a Chateau Beychevelle 2005, which is as velvety as your cat but far more expensive.

5. A playful kitten who will entertain you no matter what you drink: Channing Daughters 2008 Cuvée Tropical, a blend of chardonnay and muscat that reflects the playful nature of the winemaker, Christopher Tracy, or a light Prosecco, like Valdo Brut from Italy. It’s fizzy, fruity and not too, too sweet.

6. A fat, indolent Persian window-sitter: Pellegrini Vineyards’ Vintner’s Pride Finale, an “ice” wine made of gewürztraminer and sauvignon blanc, with the kind of satisfying sweetness that will help you fall gently to sleep; Vignobles Dauré, Les Clos de Paulilles Banyuls (south of France) which has similarly sybaritic qualities in a dessert wine.

Dogs
1. A panting, wag-tail retriever: fresh, enthusiastically citrusy Castello di Borghese 2010 Chardonnay or Domaine William Fèvre 2009 Chablis (as energized as the pooch).

2. A protector dog, like a bull mastiff or German shepherd: There aren’t any Long Island wines I know of leathery or tough enough for this, but how about an earthy Napa cab like Chappellet? Or an insurmountable red blend, Orin Swift’s “The Prisoner”?

3. A jubilant, gamboling and uncontrollable Irish setter: frizzante sparkling merlot rosé from Croteaux or an aromatic Crémant d’Alsace sparkler like Lucien Albrecht’s Brut Rosé.

4. A wise, humorous standard poodle: the joyfully effervescent Sparkling Pointe Brut or the sophisticated but also joyful Pol Roger Champagne.

5. A hyper-blissful, peppy Jack Russell terrier: the lean, delicate and searingly fresh, disarmingly honest Macari Vineyards 2010 Early Wine or the Alto Adige Abbazia di Novacella Gruner Vetliner.

6. An old, faithful Labrador: choose the steady, reliable, fully satisfying 2007 Leo Family Red (mostly merlot) or the tummy-warming Château de Beaucastel from Châteauneuf-du-Papes’ sunny slopes.

Birds, Turtles and Fish
1. Tweetie Bird: This bright, cheery oiseau needs an equally happy wine: Lieb Cellars’ Pinot Blanc or Schloss Johannisberg German Riesling.

2. Turtle: The theme here is “slow and steady wins.” I choose Martha Clara “Bernie’s Rose,” a nice sipper even if it does have a dog on the label.

3. Goldfish, swimming mesmerizingly in a circle: Laurel Lake’s spicy 2007 Cabernet Franc will help you meditate with the fish.

4. Assorted tropical fish: If they’re frisky, try Palmer Vineyard’s lively 2009 Gewürztraminer; if languid, drink the blowsy St. Jean de Minervois Muscat.

5. Piranha: Do you have one? Really? Then get a bottle of Channing Daughters’ bizarro fortified “Pazzo.” If you can’t find it, try any big ol’ Australian shiraz.

6. Japanese fighting fish: No wine. Go for the LIV potato vodka. And btw, this is why you don’t have a girlfriend.

Ms. Hargrave was a founder of the Long Island wine industry in 1973. She is currently a freelance writer and consultant.