If you're like me, Valentine's Day tends to sneak up on you. I usually try to trot out something like "well for us, honeybunch, every day is Valentine's Day." and my way better half is too nice to dispute the point. (I like to think she actually agrees.)

Anyway, if a certain Hallmark holiday has arrived without your having chosen a fitting wine for the evening (or any evening), I have the answer. As a bonus, you'll be pumping money into the local economy.

One of the state's best wineries, Cannon River, .produces an ice wine, and this year's rendition is delicious. With a nectar-like texture and pure-as-the-driven snow flavor, it's well worth the $40 tab. I served it recently for some fellow cork dorks, and they were mightily impressed that such a swell sweet wine came from these parts.

In a normal year, I would be able to tout a second ice wine, but Winehaven lost its crop in late 2011 because it didn't get cold enough (what a concept!). As chronicled here, Cannon River freezes a lot of its grapes indoors, which ensures that it has ice wine for the Winter Carnival.

Cannon River's ice wine has been available at about 40 outlets, and many should still have it in stock. Be SURE to call ahead, though. Besides most retail outlets in Hastings, Red Wing, Owatonna. Lake City, Cottage Grove and Rochester, it has been well distributed in the metro area: Try Haskell's, Lowry Hill, Edina and Lakeville munis,1st Grand, South Lyndale and Big Top. Again, some of these stores might be sold out, so check with them first.

It's more than worth the effort.




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