RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Looking for some liquid love?
With Valentine's Day fast approaching, we went to Wine Expert Michelle Izquierdo, co-founder of Rutherford's Mason's Cellar for suggestions on sweet, sultry, sexy options should you choose to spend Feb. 14 with a bottle (or two).
What follows is a wide variety meant to appeal to all tastes. "We believe that the world of wine should be inviting, not intimidating," said the Rutherford resident who owns the wine shop with her husband, Julio.
Vintages are in order of weight, lightest to heaviest as you would sample in a wine tasting.
- Casa di Malia Prosecco: "I chose bubbly, because it's the best way to start a date night or celebration, which is what Valentine's Day is all about," said Izquierdo. "Malia is the latest prosecco addition to our store and it's on fire. Made from organic grapes, it's full of crisp lemon zest and citrus flavors with satiny, textured bubbles. A superb sparkler that's delicate, round and approachable. Pairs perfectly with appetizers, cheeses, and charcuterie."
- KWV Chenin Blanc: "We have some wonderful South African selections in our store and this specific region has been taking off in sales. It is a great expression of a modern, South African Chenin Blanc and is a truly elegant wine. The wine displays upfront guava, pear and pineapple aromas with hints of honey and green apple on the nose. The palate is vibrant and fresh with a linear acidity and a lingering finish. It pairs great with a variety of salads, sushi, seafood and white meats."
- Cantine Miali Lvnalba: "This is a unique, absolutely sensational sparkling Chardonnay from Italy and everyone who tries it loves it. My husband and I were lucky to have met the young winemaker in our store and carry a number of his wines, as they are all exceptional, but Lvnalba was the reason I fell in love with his line. It's slightly effervescent and has just enough bubbles to awaken your taste buds. It has notes of bright citrus and exotic fruits, with a creamy softness on the palate. It's a sexy, romantic wine and I love to pair it with warm brie and fresh raspberries. It's also great with fish."
- Elouan Oregon Pinot Noir: "This Pinot Noir is the latest venture of Napa's royal family, the Wagners. There is something about Oregon and Pinot Noir that I love and it is undoubtedly the hottest area for Pinot Noirs. Elouan packs a punch for the price and is richer and more full-bodied than a typical Oregon Pinot Noir. Ripe cranberry, sweet cinnamon, and fresh cherries are on the nose with just a subtle hint of earthiness. Flavors on the palate include red plum, bright cherry, dusty earth and just hint sweet tobacco that creates elegant, balanced layers of rusty earthiness with soft, refined tannins."
- Killibinbin Seduction Cabernet Sauvignon: "I love these wines from an Australian, family-owned winery. And with such a playful, fun sexy label - it's a great choice for Valentine's Day. This wine is a deep garnet color with intense aromas of blackberry, mulberry and dark cherry. The palate is firm and full of blackberries and black currants. It's juicy, structured and has a great, long finish. It's delicious and everything you want from a fun, playful, fruit-forward Cabernet."
- Filon: " This Garnacha may be the best bargain from Spain right now. It hails from Calatayud, a region just southeast of the famed Rioja, where the weather is a bit warmer. It has insane amounts of black fruits, chocolate, candied red fruits and just the right amount of spice. It's got a bit of smokiness too, which would pair well with any kind of barbecue. If you like full-bodied, juicy wines and spending under $10 to get them, you're going to be ecstatic."
- Honig Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc: "I just love Honig wines and their late harvest Sauvignon Blanc is dessert in a bottle. It's rich and balanced with aromas of peaches, apricot, figs, vanilla and honey."
Mason's Cellar is located in a former bank at 23 Park Avenue, Rutherford, (201) 935-1212.