No matter if you’re a strong romance advocate or if you see the holiday as commercialized hullabaloo, Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, gents. Here’s to hoping you have your gifts squared away, but if you don’t, picking up an expert-approved bottle of wine will certainly help your case.
And who better to advise on certifiably-romantic drinks than female sommeliers and spirits experts?
We called up a selection of sommeliers and spirits experts to weigh in on their favorites. Whatever your mood, here are the best pro-loved bottles for Valentine’s Day.
For Solo Pizza Nights: Donkey and Goat "Ramato" Pinot Gris - Anderson Valley, California
“This Pinot Gris has seen a week of skin contact and has aromas of ripe apricot, hibiscus, and lemon pith. It's just sooo good—super soft tannins, minerality, and it’s easy to drink while also having some depth. It always sells out so fast, so it's definitely a special occasion wine. It would go well with a heart-shaped pepperoni pizza on Valentine’s Day!” - Doreen Winkler, founder of Orange Glou Wine Club. $33
Classic Romance Red: Old Soul by Saracina
“I find myself craving fuller bodied reds around Valentine's Day. Might be because it's winter time for us living in colder weather areas, but there's always something comforting about enjoying a luscious, hearty red with your loved one. Deep rich magenta hue, this is a very soulful vintage of Old Soul Red from Saracina—with a whole new look! Ripe black cherry and savory notes on the nose. The palate is rich and dense, with ripe tannins that wrap around a core of fruit and lend to a long, satisfying finish.” - Lydia Richards of Vino Concierge, $25
Doubles as a Present: OAX Mezcal Tepeztate
"The pink-hued ceramic bottle of this 25-year-old mezcal makes it a shoe-in for the day of love. Though it’s one of the newest mezcals to hit the market, it’s also fantastic, with intense citrus aromas and a balanced, smokey, and citric taste. It’s made with 25-year-old tepeztate maguey—an incredibly rare wild maguey that grows on steep, rocky cliffs. There’s a love analogy that could be made here, or just drink the mezcal!" - Kate Dingwall, $190
Pair with Chocolate: VORS Gonzalez-Byass "Apostoles" Palo Cortado
“It's Valentine's Day and perhaps chocolate is on the late menu. The Apostoles is an elegant, medium-rich Palo Cortado that will both pair well with a little chocolate or finish an evening off with a luscious caramel note. It's full of warm spice, dates, hazelnuts and endless longing after the last sip. This is a winner in class, style, and epic date nights. Salud!” - Chantal Tseng, bartender and founder of Cocktails for End Times. $53
Best Celebratory Bubbles: Costadilá Colli Trevigiani - Veneto, Italy 2019
“I think bubbles are always a great idea, especially when the bubbles from Costadila are so much fun! This is basically a skin contact Prosecco that is light, bright, zippy and easy to sip. And it pairs with a little cheese plate with goat cheese, crackers and grapes.” - Orange Glou’s Winkler. $23
For a Nightcap: Boulard Rye-Cask Finish Calvados
"I always consider the Old Fashioned the ultimate nightcap. Possibly because when it comes to craft cocktails, Old Fashioneds are laughably easy as long as you have bitters, good ice, and decent spirits around (I use Collins’ preserved orange twists for the sweetness and orange). While Rye is my standard go-to, Boulard’s new rye-cask Calvados is a truly special sip. Made with Calvados aged 12 weeks in rye casks, it has a beautiful creme brulee nose and lush apple on the palate, with a faint lingering of rye’s signature spice." - Kate Dingwall, $65
For a Picnic: Ruth Lewandowski Tatto, 2019
“Playful, naturally made with skin contact, full of flowers, delight, and unattainability. This is a wine akin to love at first sight and a picnic in a park with someone you somehow just have easy natural conversation with. Call it a diamond in the rough or at the ball, the winemaker is in touch with our hearts here.” - Cocktails for End Times’ Chantal Tseng, $34
For the First Date: Love You Bunches, Stolpman Vineyards
"This wine sounds like a lot—carbonic Sangiovese from California? Weird! But it’s proven to be one of my favorite wines, time and time again. It’s fresh, pure, delicious with a slightly effervescence and soft tannins. Zippy, fun, and anything-but-banal. The declaration of “Love you Bunches’ on the label is just the kind of romance I want. Cute, no? Serve it slightly chilled!" - Kate Dingwall, $25
For Curling Up by a Fireplace: Bertani Valpolicella 2018
“Date night looks different nowadays, but there's no reason not to enjoy a nice red during an at-home date night or socially-distanced outdoor dining experience. This is one of my current favorites—Nothing embodies love quite like this wine from the Veneto, home to Romeo and Juliet! Bertani Valpolicella is made from two local grape varieties, 80% Corvina Veronese, and 20% Rondinella, via traditions perfected during the estate’s 150+ year history of creating wines of uncompromising quality. It’s best paired with those traditionally hearty winter meals such as rich pasta dishes, grilled meats, stews, and a DIY charcuterie board, and of course, curled up next to a fireplace!” - Lydia Richards of Vino Concierge, $16
VOS Hidalgo "Wellington" Palo Cortado
“I can not get over how gorgeous this Palo Cortado Sherry is. Perfect for a nightcap of smooth sailing adventure. I know that's corny but so is Valentine's Day if we want to talk realness. The finish is salt caramel and long and full of warm spice and hazelnuts. This is a winner in class, style and wintry beach moods. The vineyards and Bodega are based in Sanlucar which is the Sherry region that benefits most from the salty sea air of the Atlantic.” - Cocktails for End Times’ Chantal Tseng, $39.99
For Scotch Fans: Bruichladdich Unpeated Rare Cask 1988
"If you’re wining and dining a Scotch drinker and you’ve got money burning holes in your pocket, this rare cask bottling from Bruichladdich is truly a showstopper. The current team inherited the liquid when the distillery reopened back in the early 2000s. It’s been patiently aging for the last 30 years, with master distiller Adam Hannett carefully recasking and watching over this bourbon-aged Scotch. You just don’t see age statements like this—it’s like drinking a piece of Scottish history." - Kate Dingwall, $899.99
For the Non-Imbiber: Aplos
"Skipping the booze this Valentine’s Day? My partner doesn’t drink, so lately I’ve loved cracking open a bottle of Aplos in solidarity. It’s a hemp-infused, non-alcoholic beverage that leaves you blissed out and uplifted. I like it with a healthy splash of Fever-Tree Mediterranean, but as it is the season, mix it with Gruvi’s non-alcoholic Rosé bubbly for Valentine-hued bubbly alternative." - Kate Dingwall, $48
Kate Dingwall is a WSET-trained spirits expert and sommelier at an award-winning restaurant group. Her writing has also appeared in Wine Enthusiast, Forbes, Elle, and Eater.