Valentine’s Day is full of rich tastes and precious moments, the perfect time for a fine bottle of wine.
If you’re feeling nervous for February 14th, we’ll help you choose the absolute best wine to cap the night off as a success.
Staying Home or Going Out?
First, if you’re choosing wine to bring to a home-made dinner, you’ll want a decanter. Decanting your wine makes it taste better and requires some time in advance to pour the wine and let it breathe.
Your wine should be stored at cold temperatures, then given time to warm up before you drink it. White wines can be drunk a bit cooler, while reds are best at room temperature. If you like keeping both red and white wines on-hand, a dual zone cooler lets you adjust two different temperatures for storing and serving wine.
Instead, if you plan to go out to eat, don’t worry about decanting your wine. The restaurant’s staff may have a decanter to serve your wine. Just be sure to look over the establishment’s menu ahead of time so you’re prepared to order for your date.
Bottom Line: Decanting your wine at home will make it taste even better, and if you’re going out, check out a few details on the restaurant to see if they’ll decant your wine.
Red or White Wine?
When deciding between red or white wine, consider how it will complement your meal. Your Valentine’s Day wine should be chosen second to your meats.
Deep, full-bodied red wines go great with juicy red meats such as steak and tenderloin. For many Valentine’s Day dinners, you can’t go wrong with this pairing.
For a delicate fish dinner such as flounder, a zesty white wine is a best fit, or if the fish is thicker such as salmon, a rich white wine or light-bodied red wine will be a good match.
Chicken goes well with white wines for white-meat, and medium-bodied red wines for dark meat. Other meats such as goat and lamb are safely paired with medium-bodied red wines.
Older, full-bodied red wines contain sediment at the bottom of the bottle, which can be filtered out through a decanter, and are most suitable for mature occasions. You may prefer a bubbly, sexy rosé wine instead for a more whimsical dinner, in which case, don’t worry about decanting.
Bottom Line: Red wines are for red meat and sophistication, while white wines are for meat such as chicken and fish for zestier palates. A rosé wine or champagne is a good in-between if you’re having trouble choosing between red or white.
Eccentric or Classic Flavors?
Once you have an idea on your Valentine’s Day meal, you’ve nearly chosen your wine.
The specific bottle you pick off the shelf or restaurant menu depends on how much you intend to spend and the flavors you may already know your date likes.
Cheaper wines can still taste fantastic, so don’t feel the price or age will prevent your date from liking it. The one downside is that a sulfur odor sometimes comes from cheaper wines, but decanting them releases those smells and allows it to breathe. By the time you serve the wine to your date, the smell will be indistinguishable, and smooth flavors will be brought into focus.
The flavors you look for rely on the grapes and other fruits used during the wine’s fermentation.
Popular, full-bodied red wines are often made with Cabernet Sauvignon grapes for high-tannins. These wines also age well and may be more expensive. Tannins are what gives wine a leathery texture that can be smoothed out by decanting.
Other grapes are more adaptable, such as Pinot Grigio. This type of gray grape can be fermented for either light-bodied or medium-bodied wines, and typically include crisp floral flavors.
Chardonnay is a grape found in many styles of white wine. Bubbly champagnes often contain Chardonnay as well as rarer white Burgundy wines with complex and eccentric flavors.
Popular Alternative Fruits
Raspberry, cherry, and plum are a few riskier fruit choices outside of classic grape wines if you think your date would love an exciting new taste.
Plum is also used in some sakes, if that’s an alcoholic beverage you both enjoy and want to compare. Cherry wine comes in many varieties, so each time it will be a new experience. Raspberry wine will have an uncommonly dry and dark taste. For more seasoned wine drinkers, these unique flavors may be a nice distraction from the usual.
Bottom Line: The specific taste behind your wine depends on the fruit used during fermentation. Certain grapes are used in classic red and white wines that pair well with your meal, but other less-known fruits are out there for you to experiment with.