How to Choose the Best Wine for Valentine’s Day
With more people than ever celebrating Valentine’s Day at home this year, we’ve had a ton of people asking us: What are the best wines to serve for Valentine’s Day?
Maybe you’re looking for a deep red to enjoy over dinner and dessert. Or perhaps you’d prefer a crisp white to sip while cuddled up under your favorite blanket near the fire.
Whether you’re celebrating alone or with a special someone, make sure you choose the best wine for this special night. Below are tips to choosing the perfect Valentine’s Day wine, and the history behind some of the world’s most romantic wines.
What Does Your Partner Like to Drink?
If you’re planning on spending your Valentine’s Day with your significant other, the first question you should ask is, “what does my partner like to drink?”
After all, that’s the whole point of the holiday: Showing your partner how much you care by treating them to something truly special.
You’re in luck if you know that your partner enjoys a particular brand. If not, try asking them questions about their favorite types of wines, or elements they tend to look for in a wine.
How Are You Planning to Serve the Wine?
You’ll also need to know if you’re planning to serve the wine with a snack, or pairing it with a larger meal. We believe that wine should always be paired with food, even if not being served as part of a meal.
Certain lighter wines will work better than others when paired with just a nosh, while “bigger” and heavier wines need to be paired with something more substantial to really showcase their best qualities.
Sparkling Wine Is Always a Safe Bet
Nothing sets the mood for a celebration like sparkling wine!
One of the things that we like about recommending bubbles for Valentine’s Day is that sparkling wine is incredibly versatile at the dinner table.
It works well as an aperitif wine, served with just a light and (ideally) salty snack. But it can also be served as a nimble food that’ll pair well with a wide variety of dishes.
In some countries, sparkling wine is even served with grilled or charbroiled steak! That’s how versatile it can be at the dinner table.
Champagne: The Ultimate Celebration Wine
The first thing that comes to mind for most when thinking about romantic wines is Champagne from France. The refined bubbles and nuanced flavors of a great Champagne evoke romance that few other wines can.
And when it comes to Champagne, the sky’s the limit: Nothing says, “Happy Valentine’s Day!” better than a prestige bottle of Champagne from one of the appellation’s great domaines or “houses.”
It’s also important to remember that many premium sparkling wines are similar in character to Champagne, but come from other parts of the world. Today, excellent “classic method” sparkling wines (like their famous cousin from France) are made in nearly every corner of the globe, from Australia to the Italian Alps.
You might find that a classic method wine from Oregon or Italy, or even another part of France beyond Champagne fits the bill just as well.
Prosecco: The Favorite of the World’s Most Romantic City
Prosecco from the northeastern hills of Italy is another extremely popular wine for Valentine’s Day. Perhaps more than any other category of sparkling wine, Prosecco is one of our favorites to pair with the entire meal — the way the Italians do it!
In Venice, Italy, salty fried seafood is nearly always served accompanied by Prosecco, the favorite wine of the Venetians (who know a thing or two about romance!). But Prosecco will also pair well with all kinds of food from pizza and pasta to light fish and white meat entrées like chicken and pork.
But as with Champagne, today there are all kinds of approachable and affordable sparkling wines similar to Prosecco made all over the world.
Look for wines like Sekt from Germany, or the wide range of sparkling wines including pét-nat wines(simple country wines that have just a gentle sparkle to them) from California, France, Italy, and beyond.
Rosé: The Color of Love
Even though Valentine’s Day is during winter, pink wines are another pre-rosé season favorite for Valentine’s Day for an obvious reason: their pink “rose” color.
We love to recommend rosé wines for Valentine’s Day. Like sparkling wines, rosé wines are unbelievably versatile at the dinner table.
Many of our sommelier friends like to serve rosé wines all year round. Rosé with fish tacos? Rosé with Texas barbecue? Rosé with classic American fried chicken? Rosé with classic Italian seafood?
The answer is yes, yes, yes, and yes.
Most people reach for white wine when they order sushi. But you might be surprised how well rosé wines — striking a balance between the richness of red wine and the lighter character of white — pair with your favorite Japanese dishes.
Valentine’s Day is a great occasion to splurge on a top rosé, like those produced in the South of France (think Bandol, not Provence, although we love Provence wines as well).
And in recent years, as rosé has become more popular among the hipster crowd, a lot of top wineries in California, France, Italy, and beyond have begun making world-class rosés.
Red Wine Completes a Great Meal
Red wine is another go-to for lovers on Valentine’s Day. The holiday is a great occasion to splurge on a favorite red wine you wouldn’t normally open for a weeknight dinner.
When it comes to selecting the right red wine for Valentine’s Day, all the classic rules-of-thumb apply: First, decide what you’re going to be eating, then pick a wine based on what will pair well.
A favorite cut of grilled beef? Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, Bordeaux, or Sangiovese from Italy.
Lighter fare like grill or roast chicken or pork? Think Pinot Noir from Burgundy, California, or New Zealand.
A classic Italian pasta with ragù? Cabernet Franc from the Loire Valley or a Valpolicella from northern Italy.
One thing to keep in mind is that red wines are not ideal with sweet dishes or desserts.
Wine, in general, is extremely challenging to pair with sweetness. The sweetness in the dish will overwhelm the wine, which also has some sweetness to it, even for dry wines.
If you’re planning to do red wine with chocolate, for example, this is an occasion to opt for something simple and affordable. You don’t want to “burn” your favorite red Burgundy by pairing it with a dish that will make it seem imbalanced.
Sweet Wines (or, Dessert Wines) for Your Lover’s Sweet Tooth
If you crave something sweet for your Valentine’s Day celebration, check out our holiday guide to the best sweet or dessert wines.
Sweet wines are traditionally served with aged cheeses, perhaps accompanied by honey and roast nuts of some kind.
Sauternes from France, passiti, or dried-grape wines from Italy, classic-style Rieslings from Germany — there are so many wonderful wines to choose from!
Whichever Wine You Choose, Have Fun with It!
The most important thing to remember is that Valentine’s Day is about you and not the wine!
Do you like potato chips and Champagne? Go for it!
Do you want red wine with your favorite seafood? There’s nothing wrong with that either.
As John Lennon and Elton John once sang, whatever gets you through the night, it’s alright.
There are no right or wrong pairings when it comes to choosing a wine for Valentine’s Day: Treat your lover to the wine and the pairing that they love. Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! Learn more about our team’s top Valentine’s Day picks here >