Additional articles BY COURTNEY COCHRAN

Unapologetically Pink

The best wines for romance, no holds barred

Call them Barbie wines if you want. I, for one, am not embarrassed about my penchant for pink, something that shows up from time to time in my clothing, home décor (yes, I MEANT to buy that toaster in pink) and, happily, even in my wines.

In fact, one of the reasons I love Valentine’s Day so much is that it’s the only day of the year when you can drink pink without anyone looking at you as though you might as well be swilling a cosmo or, worse, a wine cooler.

Long considered the stuff of unsophisticated winos (we can thank a couple of guys known as Bartles & Jaymes for that), pink wines – especially the lively sparkling versions – are the unsung heroes of the wine world.

Destined to live forever in the shadow of their better-known peers, whites and reds, pink wines bide their time each year until V Day rolls around. When it does, like a butterfly from a cocoon (or TomKat’s baby after months of seclusion) they emerge to show their true colors, in doing so delighting amorous revelers across the land with their subtle charms and versatile qualities.

Here are a few of my favorite pink bubblies, all primed for purchase this February 14:

The Cute Pink
Famously packaged in appealing single serving-sized bottles, Pommery’s “Pink POP” Non-Vintage Champagne has been released in full-size 750mL bottles just in time for Valentine’s Day. Which is great news, since it’s tough to stop after just one serving of the delicious off-dry sparkler (off dry means slightly sweet in wine speak). The bubble gum pink-hued charmer marries aromas and flavors of strawberries, currants and pomegranate alongside a subtle undercurrent of sweetness, which means it’s as at home when paired with fresh fruits and pastry- and custard-based desserts as when sipped alone as a decadent apéritif. Plus, the fabulously flashy pink packaging is guaranteed to elicit a squeal of approval from the pink lover in your life. About $55.

The Edgy Pink
Venerable producer Piper-Heidsieck’s Non-Vintage “Rosé Sauvage” Champagne delivers versatility and style with a name that’s nothing if not suggestive. Made in a dry style that’s well suited to traditional food pairings – you can even sip on it throughout your V Day meal - Rosé Sauvage delights with aromas and flavors of bright cherries, cinnamon, plums and blood oranges. The gorgeous salmon-colored sparkler is made from a blend of 50 different base wines and spends about 30 months in Piper’s extensive caves prior to release. A classy rosé, it comes dressed in a Barbie car-bright pink label that perfectly suits the revved-up romance of this special day. About $45.

The Scandalous Sparkler
Created from a collaboration between French avant garde fashion luminary Jean-Paul Gaultier and Piper-Heidsieck – a house rapidly becoming known as one of the bubbly world’s most exciting innovators – comes this scantily clad bottling of top-of-the-line Champagne. In an article full of pink wine, I’ve slipped in this non-pink sparkler because I just couldn’t resist its fabulous packaging. The red patent leather-wrapped bottle is made to resemble a corset, cinched shut with peep-through lacing reminiscent of edgy lingerie. And, like its ensemble, there’s nothing shy or subtle about this bubbly’s flavors: the traditionally made cuvée boasts fully developed notes of toast, citrus squirt and candied red fruits before a nutty finish rounds out the decadent experience. What comes next is entirely up to your discretion. About $110.