Pick the Best Wine for Valentine's Day
Hank Zona, local wine expert, gives you suggestions on how to pick the best one for the holiday.
Editor's Note: This article first ran on Patch on Feb. 14, 2011. But we love it so much, we're posting it again!
Valentine's Day means different things for different folks. I offer wines for every approach to the day.
First, let me focus on a wine for those who see February 14 as a dark day.
Perhaps the darkest of wines are the wines of the Cahors region in France. They are malbec-based, but not nearly as approachable as the malbecs of Argentina. Besides, if you are anti-Valentines Day, who wants approachable? Marketed over 100 years ago as "the black wines of Cahors," this is a brooding wine — if you plan to brood.
Of course, if wine won't do the trick, may I suggest a pint (or two) of Ben & Jerry's. Yes, I could have recommended any number of really good wine-flavored sorbets out there, but that's not what this mood is about, now is it?
As a quick aside (as is my habit), I was reading some survey figures about Valentine's gifts. Admittedly, the survey was conducted by the Wine Market Council, so there's a good chance the results were a bit skewed, but they're still worth mentioning for the sake of amusement and to make a point (or quip) or two.
The survey said that 59 percent of respondents preferred to receive a bottle of wine for Valentine's Day as opposed to a box of chocolates (I am guessing there was no option for "both").
Of that 59 percent, only 14 percent actually expected to receive wine, while close to 50 percent expected the standard flowers or candy. Twenty-one percent expected not even a token gift.
Thirty-one percent of the wine wishers said they would enjoy spending Valentine's Day in front of a fire with the bottle of wine and, I suppose, the person who gave the wine, although that wasn't clear.
Twenty-four percent would like to enjoy the bottle of wine while preparing and sharing a romantic dinner for two at home.
Seventeen percent wanted to share the wine in a sensuous bubble bath.
Fourteen percent said they preferred to share it at a restaurant (hopefully a BYO or else you're going to be charged a corkage fee, which isn't terribly romantic).
Nine percent said they wanted to share the wine behind closed doors.
Then the remaining 5 percent responded "other," so your guess is as good as mine as to what they might have meant (and feel free to post your guesses). Also, feel free to state your own preferences of gift and/or location.
So without any further hesitation, here are some wine thoughts for those who really like Valentine's Day (or dare not miss it).
Sure, it's predictable, but anyone who has been to my primer on sparkling wines knows, they aren't just traditionally romantic, they are a lot of fun to drink ... and there is nothing objectionable about fun, on Valentine's Day or any other day.
Rose sparkling wines are especially tasty and pretty in a glass ... and depending on the depth of your ardor, you can start in the low double digits and work your way up into the three digit stratosphere price-wise. And while you're at it, pick up another bottle or two to drink at any other time.
Wines with cute/catchy/suggestive names or hearts on the label
Oh they're out there! Love sells, after all, and the suggestion of it sells pretty well too and names and labels range from witty to cute to blatant. But really, if you're focusing on the label for more than a few moments, are you having a good time? That said, I do have a bottle of "Passion Has Red Lips" that I will crack open one of these days.
Wines that go with chocolates
People associate Valentine's Day with chocolate more than any other consumable, and many, including me, find that nothing goes better with the range of chocolate than Banyuls. Banyuls is a late harvest grenache made in the south of France. It is not as high in alcohol or as viscous as a port, but it's delicious and really goes nicely with things chocolate.
Wines that the two of you have a special association with
I believe that wine is social and connective, even emotional in some cases. If you have been drinking wine with someone for some time (that means a relationship longer than a couple of match.com emails), there is a good chance you have shared wine memories and wine stories from special occasions or trips or events. Really, what is more romantic than showing you remember, showing you care and showing you made the effort to celebrate the connection? Which reminds me, speaking of personal, I need to go find a Mont Redon Chateauneuf du Pape.
Hank Zona is a local resident and the proprietor of Swirl Wine Events. His new tv show, "The Grapes Unwrapped", can be seen on SOMAtv. When it comes to wine, he will be wearing his heart on his sleeve this Valentine's Day, and most any day of the year.