I love Valentine’s Day because almost any kind of wine goes well with the best day of the year for romance. Who can resist you when you show up with a special bottle that bubbles, blushes, or glows deepest red? The trick is to know which one your lover loves best, and whether they’d be especially dazzled by a little something extra to go along with the wine.
Let me help you out. First, do you know your beloved’s Wine Tribe? Having that knowledge, I think, is a sign of a healthy relationship. But just in case things haven’t advanced that far for you, convince your sweetie to take this quiz. Tell them it’s something fun you can do together. I’ll wait . . .
Best Valentine’s Day Wines
- Wines from Saint-Amour: Saint-Amour (which translated literally from French means “holy love,” but of course you knew that) is in the Beaujolais region of France. Wines from Saint-Amour are primarily red and made from the Gamay grape. They’re light, fruity and mineral-tasting, and they pair nicely with food. My favorite is the Maison Loron & Fils Domaine Des Billards. It sells for around $19 a bottle and has a cute cupid on the label. Try this wine if your Valentine is in the Accessible Tribe.
- Interlude by Waters Winery: This Merlot-based blend is a Bordeaux-style wine made with grapes from Washington State. I am a big fan of its raspberry jam, smoke and fig flavors, and I love its smooth finish. Get a bottle for your Balanced or Developed Tribe Valentine. For this quality juice, it’s a value at $26 a bottle.
- Fidelitas is another Washington State winery that makes delicious red wines. My personal favorite is the Quintessence, which retails for $60. It’s Valentine’s Day, people: It’s worth it! With hints of dark chocolate, dark berries and sage, this wine will win over your Valentine in the Developed or Complex Tribe.
Wine With Chocolate
Chocolate is a traditional Valentine’s Day gift, but it can be tricky to pair well with wine. By the time I’m eating chocolate, usually I’ve already had enough wine that whatever pairing I pick seems great. If you’re getting your love a special gift of chocolate, however, you should take more care with your pairing than I do.
A general rule for pairing wine with chocolate is that your wine should be a tad sweeter than your chocolate. That way, you don’t have two intense flavors competing with each other. Here’s a quick guide to pairings:
- Chocolate-covered strawberries: Bubbles are always a good paring with fruity chocolate. Try a Champagne with a moderately high sugar content (look for “sec,” “demi-sec” or “doux” on the label) or go for a sweet sparkling rose.
- Milk chocolate: I like a fruity Pinot Noir or Merlot with milk chocolate. Another good alternative is Muscat.
- Dark chocolate: Grab a bottle Zinfandel, or try an after-dinner wine, such as a Vin Santo from Greece, a Banyuls from Southern France or a tawny port from Portugal.
- Sea Salt Caramels: Again, a tawny port would work well. You could try a sparkling Asti Spumanti from Italy or a bottle of cream sherry—which doesn’t actually contain cream, but is sweet, smooth and delicious.
Wine With Fancy Glassware
If you want to take your Valentine’s wine drinking experience to the next level, spring for fancy glasses. Yes, glassware really does make a difference in how you perceive wine. The shape of the wineglass impacts your ability to smell the wine, and it also affects where on your tongue the wine lands. Both will influence how you experience the wine.
My favorite glasses are from Sophienwald, an Austrian brand of handblown glassware. I love the delicacy and angularity of the glasses, and that increases my enjoyment of drinking wine. To my eye, these glasses are very sophisticated and unique. And you’re in luck: the company is discounting its Champagne flutes by 10 percent for Valentine’s Day. If you want to really go big for Valentine’s Day, you could get your love chocolate-covered strawberries, Champagne and these glasses. Romance guaranteed. Not that I’m hinting.
I’d love to hear your ideas for Valentine’s Day gifts, so drop me a line. And cheers to love!