The Best Valentine’s Day Wines, According To Sommeliers
Easy reds, seductive whites, and Champagnes galore.
Every memorable Valentine’s Day seems to involve wine. Couples gazing across a table, drinking silky Barolos. Duos on a picnic, clinking glasses of crisp rosés. Or if you’re not coupled up, a cozy moment on the couch by yourself, glass in hand. (More wine for you, right?)
No matter if you’re a hopeful romantic or you huff at all the Hallmark hullabaloo, February 14th calls for wine. But what are you drinking? We quizzed a cast of sommeliers to find the best wines to pair with all kinds of romance.
The Caviar Companion: Westport Rivers Winery, Blanc de Blancs Brut 2013, Westport, MA – $41
This American (Champagne) Traditional Method” is absolutely spectacular. Spending ten years on the yeast, the crisp apples and dry toast are dazzling on the palate. Crisp and superbly dry with a wonderful balance of fruit, yeast, and acidity. If you love caviar, there is no better accompaniment. Made from only Chardonnay, this wine from Massachusetts will bring jealousy for his incredible quality to any French Champagne Lover. Satisfaction warranty.” – Bertil Jean-Chronberg, owner and operator of Bonde Fine Wine Shop
The After Dinner Wine: Marenco Pineto Brachetto d’Acqui 2020 – $20
“Brachetto d’Acqui is a great sparkling red wine for valentine’s day dessert – frothy and fun! With low alcohol with sweet red fruit, it is a perfect wine with chocolate, panna cotta, or the ultimate Valentine’s Day dessert – coeur la crème.” – John Cassanos, food and beverage director at Milwaukee’s Tre Rivali.
To Kick The Night Off: Bodega Colome Torrontes – $12
“While the obvious go-to wines are sparkling wine or rose, I think everyone should try to keep things interesting, especially on Valentine’s day! I would start my night with a glass of Bodega Colome Torrontes. For starters, it’s like sticking your nose into a bouquet of flowers, just in wine form. It is incredibly refreshing and easy to drink, with a nice mild acidity and a really nice mineral quality that goes well with all kinds of foods, from oysters and shrimp to cured meats and charcuterie.” – Alex Cuper from El Che Steakhouse & Bar
If You Forget Flowers: Intermission Cellars Made You Blush Rose – $24
“For those of you who feel obligated to buy a bouquet of roses but want to stray off the beaten path, look no further. With roses on the label, this wine is wrapped in paper and presented upside down to look like an actual bouquet of roses! Hailing from the Sonoma Valley, the wine itself has mouthwatering acidity and notes of strawberry that will leave you wanting more. These super small producers only made 116 cases of this exclusive rosé so get them while you can!” – Jonathan Waxman, beverage director of Barbuto NYC
For Falling in Love: Mauritson Zinfandel – $40
“Mauritson is one of the most celebrated producers for Zinfandel in California, and makes an incredible array of top-quality wines, but one of their absolute favorites of mine is their 2019 Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel. Wildly complex and aromatic with notes of red cherry, blueberry, cedar, baking spices, espresso, and purple flowers, this Zinfandel offers wonderful compatibility with food that makes this a wine that always over-delivers, whether by itself, of paired with just about any cuisine that you may be enjoying for Valentine’s day. There is never a wrong time to drink a Zinfandel like this, and I’ve never seen a guest not fall in love with this excellent California wine.” – Matt Montrose, advanced sommelier and CEO of OMvino
The Safe Bet: Clos de la Roilette Fleurie Beaujolais – $28
“One of my top choices for a date-night bottle would be Clos de la Roilette Fleurie Beaujolais because flowers die, but Fleurie is forever! JK, but it’s much more fun to share, is super food-friendly but great without food too (depending on where your night is headed). The bright acidity keeps you coming back for that next sip, so we’ve got stamina on our side too. Plus, the lush cassis and subtle spice notes are perfect undertones for a date.” – Mary Allison Wright, co-owner of Denver’s Yacht Club
For Charcuterie: 2018 Bott Csontos Tokaji Furmint – $33
“This deliciously aromatic dry Furmint is produced by a wife and husband team in the Tokaj region of Hungary. Bott is an homage to Judit Bodo’s maiden name. The pair crafts this exemplary Furmint from a tiny vineyard. All dried fruits, honey, and spice, with beautiful high notes of flowers and fresh sweet herbs, and a crisp acidic backbone. Pairs perfectly with Thai dishes, pâtés and cheese platters, oysters, sushi, and flavorful shellfish dishes.” – Sarah Trubnick, co-owner and wine director of The Barrel Room
Bring Out the Big Guns: Pio Cesare Barolo 2018 – $86
“Barolo is always a decadent choice. For this, I’m usually looking for a flavor somewhere in between chocolate and leather. Pio Cesare invites us to start with his Barolo to inspire the meal. The 2018 invites veal (osso buco, maybe?) or anything else that leans into the rugged and rustic nature this ready-to-drink vintage.” – Michael Peltier, senior fine wine specialist of Millesima
For Boy’s Night: Salvatore Molettieri Vigna Cinque Querce Taurasi – $44
“Taurasi is an Aglianico-based wine made high up in the mountains of Campania in southern Italy, not far from the Amalfi coast. Traditionally, it’s a full-bodied, dense, bold wine with notes of exotic spices, black cherry, and a hint of smokiness, think to pair it with really good BBQ. This is a great, budget-friendly option, go with Salvatore Molettieri’s ‘Vigna Cinque Querce Taurasi. If you’re looking for a more adventurous wine, spend a bit more and get Marco Tinessa’s ‘Ognostro’ Rosso. It’s the same grape, but aged in clay amphora, and this wine is brooding with dark berry, balsamic, and an intense wild nose. The label is also killer!” – Frank Kinyon, beverage and service director, a.kitchen+bar
The First Date: Donnafugata ‘Mille e una Notte Wine’ Sicily $85
“For St. Valentine’s, I would recommend Mille e Una Notte by Donnafugata winery. It’s dedicated to one of the oldest and most fascinating love stories, One Thousand and One Nights: a classic love story where Sherazade, the main character, manages to conquer the sultan’s love thanks to her ability to narrate stories, one night after another.“
The wine is an homage to love and the rich cultural connection given to Sicily, especially in the development of agriculture during the Islamic rule of the island in the 8th century. Made from Nero d’Avola, Petit Verdot, Syrah and other grapes, the wine exudes aromas and flavors of plum, mulberry, licorice, dried figs, bay leaf, nutmeg, cinnamon, and leather.
The palate is compelling, soft and embracing, surprising with an extraordinary silky tannin. A remarkable long persistence on the finish. The wine can age over 20 years and is a true testament of love to the island and the guest we’ll decide to drink it with” – Jeffrey Porter, beverage consultant, host, and sommelier
The Nightcap: Ferdinando Principiano ‘Dosset’ Rosso – $24
“Wine is fun, right?! Not always, but it will be on Valentine’s Day. Ferdinando Principiano’s ‘Dosset’ from the Dolcetto grape variety: sounds like a sweetie-pie, but smells like a Bic pen exploding on a break up (I mean love!) letter, combined with a juicy-grit taste. Spicy, sprightly, and always around 11% in alcohol.” – Ernest Ifkovitz, founder of PortoVino
Classic Crowd Pleaser: Maison Advinam ‘La Bouffonne’ 2019 – $45
“Anne Buiatti’s ‘La Bouffonne’ is akin to the 19th-century Bordeaux blends of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. Modestly classified as simply a ‘Vin de France,’ the grapes are sourced across the appellations of Bordeaux and Roussillon. In these ‘off-the-grid’ vineyards, Buiatti cultivates entirely by hand, implementing natural fermentation mostly in terracotta amphorae. Inviting notes of currant, with a robust coffee-like depth, are framed in eucalyptus and Luxardo cherry. It makes a great date-night bottle because it’s a medium-bodied, dark fruited red with lower sulfites.” – Ryan Plas, the Wine Guy at Coquette, New Orleans
Wine With A Sweet Story: Craven Cinsault 2021 Stellenbosch – $34
“For a perfectly romantic wine on Valentine’s Day, try the 2021 Craven Cinsaut from Stellenbosch, South Africa. It’s made by husband-and-wife team Mick and Jeanine Craven and their love shows in the bottle. It’s a bright, lively, and juicy wine, with just a kiss of oak from used puncheons. The purple label takes the aphrodisiac effects to the next level.” – Peter Wassam, Wine Shop Manager at Compline Wine Shop
For Starting Sparks: Pied a Terre Love on Mars Cabernet Sauvignon – $32
“This big and bold Cabernet is a decadent addition to any Valentine’s Day evening. Paying homage to David Bowie, not only is this label gorgeous but the contents inside the bottle are rich and dazzling on the palate.
“This dark, ripe fruit red wine is perfectly made for a juicy steak dinner or sharing your favorite dark chocolate on the couch with your beau. Pop this bottle open at home after your Valentine’s date and it will knock your socks off (and maybe even a little more).” – Jonathan Waxman, beverage director of Barbuto NYC
A Conversation Starter: Margalit Cabernet Franc 2014, Israel – $80
“The easiest Valentine’s Day pick for me is this Margalit. In 2011, I visited the winery with my then-girlfriend/now-wife and had a private tasting with [the winemaker] Asaf and his family. We did a full 32-barrel tasting and I ended up having Asaf send me cases to the US.
“Every special occasion, like anniversaries and even at our wedding, we drank a bottle of Margalit Cabernet Franc. We even named our eldest daughter, Margalit and subsequently, my first restaurant. The 2014 vintage has a really elegant body and mouthfeel and it’s a good time to drink it right now. Dark cherry fruit notes and the bell pepper is very light, more fresh and gardeny — almost minty.” – Chef Zach Engel of Michelin-starred Galit
Couch Wine: 2017 Botanica Wines Arboretum Red, Stellenbosch – $34
“Whether your idea of romance is a decadent meal or a cozy night on the couch, this Cabernet blend from South Africa is sure to win over your heart. The wine bursts with flavors of plums and dark chocolate, which compliment its velvety texture. Along with grapes, proprietor Ginny Povall’s stunning property also boasts 20 acres of Protea flowers that bloom throughout the year. What could be more romantic than that?” – Alex Ring from Michelin-starred Sepia + Proxi