Wine for Your Valentine
With all the options out there, it's hard enough choosing wine for a typical weekday meal. But choosing wine for Valentine's Day, arguably the most romantic dining day of the year? It has a degree of difficulty that's in another league.
Fortunately, there are any number of ways to narrow your selection, some less dubious than others.
1. Limit Your Options
For example, I can quickly eliminate nearly half the bottles in a wine store simply by accusing white wine of lacking romantic appeal. Red is where the romance is, right? (Note: It doesn't matter if I'm wrong; just so long as I think I'm right, I've made my job considerably easier.) One notable exception that proves the rule? Blanc de blancs champagne (made from Chardonnay grapes) is in fact quite romantic--hence we are eliminating not-quite-half the bottles from the store.
But enough about me. Let's talk about you.
2. Consider Your Companion
You can narrow the list down further by establishing what kind of person your mate is. Is this person the kind of guy who is easily impressed by lavish displays of wealth and luxury, who is accepting of nothing but the very finest in life? These people will easily be made happy by a bottle of wine that comes with a tremendous pedigree and/or unbelievably exciting storyline. Once you've established this is indeed the kind of person you've attached your bright star to, you can dump him immediately and save yourself stacks of money this Valentine's Day. (You're welcome.)
3. Recall the Romance
Possibly more helpful than the previous advice is to consider the romantic places where you and your other have whiled away the hours gazing into each other's eyes. If you've been to Napa, France, Italy, or Spain, your perfect bottle is within easy reach. (It might be helpful to know at last check every state in the union was producing wine. Did you take a romantic trip to Taos, New Mexico? Consider a bottle of Gruet sparkling wine. A weekend getaway to the Texas Hill Country? Try a Bordeaux blend from Fall Creek Vineyards.) Warning: The key to success here lies in not mixing up your traveling companion. A romantic dinner can take a sudden rocky turn when the question, "Remember when we were in [pleasant location]?" is answered with, "That wasn't me, doofus."
The above advice also works for places where the two of you have always fantasized about going. A nice bottle of Bordeaux can't transport you to France, but after a glass, it can close the distance.
4. Make It Meaningful
Likewise, if you can recall a particular wine you had during a singularly important dinner, seek out the same varietal; and if you can remember where the grapes were grown, do one better and choose the varietal from that particular place. It doesn't have to be the exact same wine to register on the romance scale. The remembering is enough. When you present the bottle, you can say, "Remember the wine we had at that little Italian restaurant on our 5th anniversary? This bottle reminded me of it." (Note: If you're addressing the typical man, you'll be in luck if he remembers the dinner; the chance he remembers the particular wine defies even the science to calculate it; so you have some fudging room here. Warning: this advice not valid if you're dating Hugh Johnson or Eric Asimov.)
Now if I may get personal for a moment. For my wife and I, our all-time most meaningful bottle of wine would have to be an inexpensive Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile called Los Vascos. You've probably seen it. Los Vascos was the first premium bottle of wine we ever bought together, back in the day when we were hard-pressed to justify spending money on wine not from an economy-sized jug. We splurged on the Vascos for a special steak dinner. I still remember the owner of the wine shop patiently helping us make the most of our selection. Even today, 15 years later, whenever I see that bottle in a wine store, I think about those days. We don't drink it much these days. Though good wine and a great value, it's somehow not for every day. The wine stands for something else now. For me, it's probably the most romantic bottle of wine there is.
And so there it is, I suppose. Ultimately, the single most romantic bottle of wine in the entire world is the bottle that means the most to you. (Ouch, that's an eye roller, I confess.) But if none of the above is helpful, I have one last bit of advice: Ask the wine person at the wine store. They know their selection. Tell them what you're eating. Let him or her know what you and your partner like in a wine. They can pick something special for you.
Happy Valentine's Day!
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