Ditch the Flowers: 4 Romantic Wine Ideas for Valentine’s Day

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It’s never too early to start coming up with ideas for Valentine’s Day. Okay, so maybe buying chocolate at Halloween for your lover is jumping the gun. And by the way, the sweets route is way too predictable: candy and roses are for elementary school crushes in the 1950’s. It’s Valentine’s Day 2016 for crying out loud — spice things up a bit. Well, ferment things up a little bit. Everybody gets excited about wine, so here are 4 romantic, modern, and fun wine ideas to make your lover’s 2016 Valentine’s Day unforgettable.

Valentine’s Day Idea #1: Plan a day ripe with wine-tasting and vineyard tours

Valentines Day Ideas Wine Tasting
Valentine’s Day is a good excuse to finally go wine tasting.

Many people wax poetic about getting out there among the vines and the barrels and the fat grapes and enjoying the sun and sipping the wine and holding their glasses up to the light. And then they never do it. And this is usually because they don’t know how to plan a wine-tasting date. No excuses now: with the below pointers, you can have your vineyard trip planned in under an hour.

Pick a Wine Region. Californians have it easy since the state is known as wine country. Yep, California is pretty much its own wine nation. In the Bear Republic, some suggested wine-tasting cities are Paso Robles, Santa Barbara, and Madera. However, areas like Wilamette Valley in Oregon, Fingers Lake in New York, and Palisade in Colorado can provide equally enjoyable wine-tasting experiences. In a full, unhurried day of wine tasting in one of these places, you can easily make it to at least 6 tasting spots.

Decide What You Want from the Vineyard. You know you’re going to get wine on a tour, but what else do you need to make Valentine’s Day extra special? A live swing band to sway to while you sip Chardonnay? Gardens to stroll through hand-in-hand while the birds and bees are buzzing? A grassy picnic area to sprawl out on and count each other’s eyelashes? Call ahead to the wineries, ask what they have to offer, and remember to make an appointment for the wine tasting. Also know that there’s a difference between tasting and a full-on tour — the latter is going to take up more time and it gives you access to the nuts and bolts of the wine-making process.

Winery Amenities Valentines Day
Not all wineries are alike. Get recommendations from locals and call ahead to check amenities.

Book A Nearby Hotel and Call Up Jeeves. We recommend getting a room as close as possible to the vineyard clusters that you’ll be visiting. After all, it’s always nice to have a comfy bed for a nap when that afternoon lethargy hits. On that note, remember that wine is alcohol, which means you shouldn’t “taste” it and then drive. A jail cell is not an romantic Valentine’s destination. Instead, hire a car to take you two wherever your little hearts desire in the wine region.

Wake Up Early and Bring Enough Money. The earlier you start in the morning, the better. There are less crowds, less waiting, and more intimacy for you and your lover. This will especially hold true on Valentine’s Day 2016, with wine interest at an all-time high. Also wine tasting comes at a price. Expect to pay anywhere from $5 to upwards of $30 for tasting access.

Talk. Talk to the wine tasting personnel. Talk to your partner. Talk to the other couples on the Valentine’s Day tour. In short, talk about the wine you’re tasting — you’re there to share and learn.

Delicately Stuff Each Other’s Faces. There’s no point in getting out the door by 8 a.m. if you’re both drunk by 9 a.m. Throughout the day, feed your lover bread, salami, cheese, etc. to keep sober enough for more wine sipping.

Buy a Souvenir. You don’t just taste wine to taste wine — you taste it to see what you like to taste. And if you like something, you should take some home. Buy yourself and your loved one a few bottles that you can agree upon and bring them back to your nest to enjoy down the road, along with the memories of your wine tasting tour.

Valentine’s Day Idea #2: Surprise your sweetheart with a sexy wine cooler gift

Love Lock Valentines Day 2016
Lock in their love with a high-capacity wine cooler for Valentine’s Day.

If a wine tour doesn’t fit your schedule this Valentine’s day, you still have a chance to get the love flowing and your partner’s heart pumping happily with a sexy gift. When it comes to wine and beverage products, there’s no sexier gift than a wine cooler, and there’s no sexier wine cooler than the NewAir AWR-1160DB Dual Zone Premier Gold Series Wine Cooler — except for the ultra-sexy NewAir AWR-1600DB Dual Zone Premier Gold Series Wine Cooler.

Gift Ideas for Valentine's Day NewAir AWR-1160DB Wine Cooler
A Valentine’s Day gift to remember: NewAir AWR-1160DB Wine Cooler

These two wine bottle storage cabinets exude luxury. While there are plenty of products out there with lower bottle capacities that might be suitable for lesser sommeliers, we think that Valentine’s Day is an occasion where you should opt for something that’s timelessly attractive. That’s because there are 364 other days in the year where love isn’t the focus. On those days, the AWR-1160DB or AWR-1600DB standing in your lover’s kitchen will be an undeniable reminder that you put extra thought into their wine gift idea for Valentine’s Day 2016.

Partially what makes these two wine coolers special is their high-capacity. Even if your darling doesn’t have over 100 bottles, these wine storage units are the perfect motivator for him or her to keep expanding their  collection. Having a cooler excites people to educate themselves about wine’s complexities, to drink better wine, and to treat their loved ones to carefully curated wine types.

Gift Ideas for Valentine's Day NewAir AWR-1600DB Wine Cooler
An even better Valentine’s Day gift: NewAir AWR-1600DB Wine Cooler

Plus, if you follow our next tip (which involves buying fine wine for your lover, with recommendations), they’ll need a safe place to age that quality vino. For example, a good cabernet sauvignon needs to sit for around 7 years at just the right temperature before it can reach its full potential. And that’s what a wine cabinet does: it allows bottles to be cooled at the proper temperature for the best flavors, aroma, mouthfeel, and more.

There’s also a great aesthetic ambiance to be found in these wine cooler models, with their dual setting interior gold lighting and adjustable beech wood shelving. Coupled with the black exterior with stainless steel trim on the AWR-1160DB, or the full stainless steel cabinet of the AWR-1600DB, these freestanding wine storage units have transformative capabilities when it comes to design: they can make any room’s decor look better.

So, getting either one will make you glow a little handsomely in your lover’s eyes. We don’t want to go quite so far as to say that an object can lock in a lover’s affection, but a high-capacity wine cooler truly is an impressive Valentine’s Day gift. Plus, it’s suitable for anybody: him or her, beginner or expert wine drinkers, persnickety gift recipients, homeowners or apartment renters — pretty much anyone who likes wine. And as for those who don’t — well who wants to be with a wine-hater anyways?

Valentines Day Idea #3: Give your lover one wine for aging, and one that’s good right now

Valentines Gift Wine Lover
Most wines on the market will taste great even if you drink them right when you get home.

This Valentine’s Day we recommend treating your lover to two wines: a decent one that you two can drink right away as the sun sets, and a good wine that needs to be stored and/or aged for a more extensive period of time. How do you know which is which? If you’ve been too busy gazing into star-crossed eyes to learn about vintages, glance at this cheat sheet before you head down to your local specialty beverage store.

Wine Bottle Valentine Gift Label
Check the wine bottle front and back label.

Don’t Judge a Wine By Its Cover. A picture of an oak tree dressed as a harlequin doing a jig might make you feel warm and fuzzy, but it doesn’t mean the wine inside the bottle under that label is any good. Instead, flip the bottle over and take a look at the rear label. This one should tell you things like where the wine is from, who imported it, what flavors you can expect, and if it has won any awards. This will be particularly helpful for your cheaper wine bottle choice: look at the flavors, see if they sound like something you and your lover might want to savor, and base your choice solely on that curiosity.

A True Wine Always Reveals Its Age. The cork or the label should have the date when the wine was bottled. While it’s true that some wine does get better as it ages, this is only true for about the top 5% of vintages. Pretty much everything in stores is ready to be drunk within 5 years of the cork being inserted.

Birthplace. More important is the combination between the bottling year and the region where the wine grapes grew. For example, a 2002 wine from an area with a bad drought during that harvest year won’t be as good as a wine from a region that had ideal climate conditions in 2015.

Price Tag. If all else fails, look at the price tag. Anything $35 and below, and waiting for the wine to get better will be a waste of time — it’s already as good as it’s going to get. $35 and up and you’re getting into higher quality vino that may need some time to develop.

Wine Type. In general, red wines age better than whites, and especially those that come from grapes with a high amount of tannins and/or acidity (Cabernet, Merlot, etc.). Champagne and sparkling wines are almost always ready to be drunk immediately. Here are some specific wine suggestions with the potential for aging well over the years.

•Le Macchiole Paleo Rosso (2000)
•Parusso “Bussia” Barolo (2001)
•Salvatore Molettieri Taurasi Aglianico (2004)
•J. Hofstätter Lagrein (2006)

More generally, shiraz, red zinfandel, red bordeaux, white bordeaux, and merlots can age to perfection. But even if you get a wine that you’re not trying to keep until your diamond anniversary, the beverage will only benefit from being stored properly until you do drink it. That’s because if you set the bottle out on the kitchen table in direct sunlight, with the central heating on occasionally, the wine can start to cook. Instead, help your partner decide where to set up their new wine cooler, and then baptize the insides with a precious bottle from the depths of Italy.

Valentine’s Day Idea #4: Check your neighborhood for Valentine wine events

Wine Culture Valentine's Day Event
You don’t have to go all the way to wine country to experience wine culture.

Wine complements everything from food to celebrations that are happening everyday right in your neighborhood. You can top off the 2016 Valentine’s Day celebration with a wine culture event. Here are some ideas:

Art and Wine Pairing. Art pops up in the most unexpected of places — for example, the Bellagio in Las Vegas is home to a fine art gallery, replete with Picasso pieces. They also offer events such as “Art & Wine: A Perfect Pairing,” which involves drinking wine and other beverages that have been carefully selected to harmonize with the art on display. We’re most interested in the idea behind this event. Consider taking a taxi with your date to local private art galleries. Check ahead to see if beverages are allowed inside — in fact, some galleries will offer complimentary wine — and if they are, sip a little while viewing. Otherwise, brainstorm together afterwards on what wines will best evoke the art you just saw. Then head to the store, pick out a few bottles, and keep the intellectual conversation rolling.

Food and Wine Pairing. Except for that salami and cheese you had way back in wine gift idea #1, you might have forgotten to eat on this Valentine’s Day. For this special occasion, why not visit a wine and cheese shop, along with a wine bar? The folks who run the former have already done the hard work of picking great wines to go with the food they serve. Meanwhile, wine bars are the perfect solution if a full-on winery odyssey doesn’t fit into your schedule. Then top off the day with dinner at a fine-dining restaurant, making sure to ask your waiter which wine they would recommend.

Chocolate Labrador Puppy
Wrong chocolate pairing. But if your lover hates your Valentine’s Day wine ideas, just get them a puppy.

Dessert and Wine Pairing. After dinner comes dessert and everybody knows that wine goes well with chocolate. In fact, chocolate shops know especially well that wine is a match made in heaven with their product. That’s why you should check your local chocolatier’s event schedule — there’s usually more than a few shops in every city — to see if they’re hosting any wine & chocolate soirees. They know people are going to be looking for this pairing on Valentine’s day, so you can bet there’s will be more than a few options popping up.

Music and Wine Pairing. Last but not least, add some extra notes of happiness to your Valentine’s day with a band. There’s no need to go to the opera for a romantic Valentine’s Day. A concert in the park is a great low-key option, with wine often being served. Or check to see if any local jazz bands are playing in the aforementioned wine bars. Or pick out your favorite concert venue and create your own wine pairings with some help from the bar. And if all else fails, just get your lover a puppy.

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