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Valentine’s Day is the second most popular gifting day. Courtesy photo
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Taste of Wine: Fine wine and food is the perfect Valentine’s Day combination

Valentine’s Day is close to our hearts as a day to recognize romantic love with Feb. 14th set aside as a holiday to honor this tradition.

It actual was a Christian holy feast day known as the Feast of Saint Valentine. You have to dig back to the year 269 for the story of Saint Valentine, a priest of Rome, who was martyred, persecuted and executed by the Roman emperor for being a Christian, whose farewell note was signed “your Valentine.”

It evolved in 18th century England as an occasion when lovers expressed their love of each other by offering flowers, sweet foods and greeting cards known as valentines.  These cards were handwritten personal notes with expressions of intimacy, a kind of courtly love. Fast forward to today and Hallmark and others provide many attractive choices to present to our loved ones, complete with beautiful imagery and loving poetry for just the right thought.

The sparkling red Valentine’s wine, Italy’s Rosa Regale from Banfi Vintners, sits by the Banfi iconic Sentinel, symbol of the most important winery in Italy. Photo by Frank Mangio

Valentine’s Day is the second most popular gifting day and stores, online buying services, restaurants and wineries constantly remind us about that as the big day nears.

My in-box is full of wine and dine locations for that special experience together.

Romance is an experience that is perfect with food and wine, and Valentine’s Day is a reason to make it special.

Here is a selection of wineries and restaurants of distinction that are offering hearty and memorable menus on Feb. 14:

• The Marine Room on the shores of La Jolla, with romantic candlelight, has a four-course dinner with main entrée choices including lobster tail, halibut and duck breast. A signature dessert trilogy caps this romantic setting. Cost is $150 per person. Call (866) 644-2351.

• Firenze Trattoria in Encinitas is presenting an Italian Valentine’s feast with Primi, Principale and Dolce. Consider the Lasagna Firenze with a trio of special meats. Cost is $75 each. RSVP at (760) 944-9000.

• Pinnacle Restaurant at Falkner Winery in Temecula will host a romantic dinner with four courses. A paired premium wine will go with each entrée, from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Price varies, so call the winery for an RSVP at (951) 676-8231, ext. 4.

• Lorimar Vineyards and Winery in Temecula with celebrate Valentine’s Day starting at 7 p.m. with a four-course dinner, wine pairing and live music. Main course will be halibut filet or filet mignon. Cost is $75 per person, $65 for club members. Got to for an RSVP.

• Thornton Winery in Temecula has a special menu from 5 to 9 p.m. for $82. Choice of lobster ravioli, filet mignon, seared salmon or chicken saltimbocca. Reservations at (951) 699-0099.

• Capri Blu Italian Bistro in the 4S Ranch near Rancho Bernardo is offering a four-course menu for $45 with lots of choices. Details and RSVP at (858) 673-5100.

That’s amore, Valentine!

Rosa Regale, a product of Banfi Vintners of Tuscany, is romance in a bottle. It comes in a fine crystal decanter with a beautiful red color. Its mild alcohol level makes it a nice choice for Valentine’s Day or other special occasions. Softer and smoother than Champagne, serve it chilled as an appetizer, cool pairing to spicy Italian or as a dessert accompaniment. It’s best to serve it chilled.

The grape varietal is that of Sangiovese (Chianti Classico) with a DOCG rating. 

The single red rose depicted on the label refers to the wine’s origin from the single-vineyard La Rosa Estate in the small Piedmont Italy town of Acqui ($20 for the 750 ml size).

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Frank Mangio is a renowned wine connoisseur certified by Wine Spectator. He is one of the leading commentators on the web. Reach him at [email protected].