Date Night Wine Pairing Menu: Beyond Wine and Chocolate

date night wine pairing with picture of trees and park bench

Say romance and wine…and you might start getting visions of decadent truffles paired with port or mountains of ripe strawberries alongside flutes of bubbles. While there is nothing wrong with these tried and true pairings, we dare you to go off the beaten path and ramp up your ordinary date night this month with a couple incredible dishes, made even better when paired with the right wine. Our date night wine pairing menu is perfect for this time of year; Braised Short Ribs paired with a robust red will ward off any winter chill, while the fresh Smoked Almond and Goat Cheese Salad served with a crisp Sauvignon Blanc hints that spring sunshine is right around the corner. So tie on that apron and pop a cork (or two) and get ready for date night!    

On to the Recipes and Pairings!

Smoked Almond and Goat Cheese Salad 

  • 1 lb. fresh baby spinach and/or spring mix
  • 3 tbs. fresh parsley
  • ¾ cup crushed smoked almonds (about 10 pulses in a food processor)
  • 4 oz. crumbled goat cheese
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 tbs. honey
  • 2 tbs. red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp. dijon mustard
  • 4 tbs. olive oil
  • 2 tsp. fresh rosemary
  • salt and pepper
  1. Saute shallot with 1 tbs. olive oil. Add 1 tbs. honey. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Transfer to a small bowl and whisk together the vinegar, mustard, and rosemary. Add olive oil and whisk again.
  3. Combine the spinach/spring mix and parsley. Add the dressing and toss to coat.
  4. Plate the spinach mixture on plates. Top with crushed almonds and goat cheese.

Recipe courtsesy of

What to Drink: 

Sauvignon Blanc and Goast Cheese are a classic pairing. The fresh herb vinegarette and greens in this salad will also play nicely off this wine.

Our picks:

2015 Honig Sauvignon Blanc – Bright acidity lends a crisp freshness to the flavors of peach, passionfruit, and lemongrass, artfully balanced by a touch of freshly squeezed grapefruit and lime. Juicy and refreshing, with aromas of jasmine, peach, and grapefruit rind.

2015 Pastou ‘ La Cote de Sury’ VV Sancerre – This is pure, razor-sharp Sancerre, vibrant nose of herb and mineral, hints of green plum and white flowers. The palate is juicy and mouthwatering with a finish that is lively and long. 

Easy Short Ribs Braised in Red Wine


  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large celery rib, finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • One 750-milliliter bottle dry red wine
  • 2 cups veal or chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Four 2-inch-thick, flanken-cut short ribs with bone (2 3/4 pounds)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Buttered egg noodles, for serving


  1. In a large, enameled cast-iron casserole, melt the butter. Add the onion, celery and carrot, cover and cook over moderate heat until slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Uncover and cook until the vegetables are lightly browned, about 3 minutes longer. Stir in the tomato paste. Add the flour and cook for 1 minute, stirring. Add the wine and veal stock and bring to a simmer.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet until shimmering. Season the ribs with salt and pepper, add them to the pan and cook over moderately high heat, turning, until they are well browned, about 15 minutes.
  3. Transfer the short ribs to the casserole. Partially cover and cook over moderately low heat until very tender, about 2 hours.
  4. Transfer the ribs to a plate and remove the bones. Strain the sauce into a heatproof measuring cup and skim off the fat. Return the sauce to the casserole and boil until reduced to 2 cups, 10 minutes. Return the meat to the sauce and simmer over low heat until heated through. Serve the ribs with egg noodles.

Recipe courtesey of Food & Wine

What to Drink: 

Lucious robust melt-in-the mouth short ribs call for robust reds. Look for full-bodied reds that have enough acidity to keep your palate refreshed.

Our Picks:

2010 Venus Appollon Bordeaux – Made in miniscule quantities around 150 cases the wine offers up a nose of dark rich fruit, hints of cigar box, on the palate the wine is full bodied and dark, the finish goes on to a silky end.

2013 Gramercy Cellars Cabernet – Offering a pretty, elegant, dare I say Margaux-like bouquet of lead pencil shavings, spice-box, tobacco leaf, black raspberries and blackberries, the 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon is medium to full-bodied, utterly seamless, elegant and layered on the palate, with no hard edges, sweet tannin and a great finish.

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