Were you feeling a strange tingly sensation when Phil the groundhog saw his shadow last week? If not, you’re clearly a heartless monster because it’s time to get ready for the crash landing of Valentine’s Day!
Depressing? Totally! But just think about all the poor wine writers out there who don’t want to write about this but yet, every year, they still do because Wine.com, BevMo, Waitrose, BBR & all the others have to move unsold stock from the holidays.
It’s high time that we drive Wine Cupid to that farm upstate and put him out of our misery by having a definitive guide to this absolute charade of humanity so that we can all “swipe left” in the future and be done with it; pandemic or no pandemic.
Green means Go!
So, you gotta get things rolling. What to start out the evening with? Well, some kind of white wine, but make it something a little green and lusty like a Semillon from Hunter Valley or maybe some kind of underripe funky Chablis made as Vin de France because it’s far too cool to be “Chablis”.
Maybe you and yours are even cooler than Vin de France Chablis? If so, I both envy and fear you and in that case, you totally need to start with a Riesling. A Grand Cru from Alsace says, “I care and I understand terroir.”
If you’re even cooler than this though, nothing gets the party started like skin-contact white. Some Georgian Amber Khvikvi or a Slovenian Orange Rebula show class and refinement as you tear into the organic paté and Vacherin Mont d’Or nachos you wisely chose for the appetizer, you sly devil.
The power of bubbles
Now that everyone has gotten loosened up, let’s move on to the next if not the most common wine for Valentine’s Day: sparkling.
You should stock up on great quantities of this given that while not everyone likes it, everyone can drink it and the reason behind drinking on Valentine’s Day, is to hook up. Yeah, violins, hearts, ribbons, and a pervy little naked angel armed to the teeth is great and all but the fact is, Valentine’s Day = Sex.
Anyone who says differently is either lying or works for a greeting card company who somehow think a piece of paper saying, “I Wuv You Dis Much!” can in some way stand in for a hot evening of the down n’dirty.
Don’t worry if you’re broke and can’t afford something like Champagne because that’s what the ice bucket is for. Oh, you thought it was to keep the bubbly at skin-tingling temperatures? No, it’s to hide the fact you went out and got a Prosecco, Cava, Crémant de Something, or God forbid, a Franciacorta, or Satan forbid, something from California, and are trying to pass it off as something fancier as you stroll on down the road to Business City.
If you went for that Riesling or skin-contact option, then I’d be horribly dismayed if you weren’t drinking anything other than pét-nat/ancestrale as your bubbly of choice. And yes, it’s Valentine’s Day, you totally need to swallow those sediments… like I really need to tell you that, you homo superous, you empire of trendiness. I bow at your iconoclastic fashion as the weak fool that I am and may your coolness and wine choices crush all we who are lesser.
But do keep in mind that, “Nothing says romance in a glass better than pink bubbles” and if you’re on a budget, the entire sparkling industry has a slew of cheap, pink, Instagram-friendly sparkling wines.
Want in? Well, head down to Cava land because their use of red grapes like Grenache, Trepat, and Pinot Noir will ensure you the pinkest of bubbles not at Champagne prices nor caviar dreams. And if you want something pink that sounds like love because it has a lot of vowels in the name, then hey, Franciacorta is your BFF.
Pink is the color of l*ve
So, if you’ve dipped your toe in pinky waters, you’ve arrived at a crossroads in how to continue your wine choices for the evening. Do you keep on with the pink theme? Or, do you splash into the reds?
Pink would be the traditional choice of course and if you search around a month in advance, rosé will totally be on sale as the new vintage hasn’t yet come to market yet and shops are dying to sell off the previous year.
The classic? Provence. Something Frenchy always sounds sexy, even if it’s called, Château du Poutain. But maybe you can strike out and go modern, picking up what John Legend is “making” these days because he’s got a rosé that’s called, “LVE”. You see, it’s “love” without that empty O-hole in it. Losing this vowel may make for Valentine’s balance however if you’ve just gone with a sparkling like the Borgo La Gallinaccia from Franciacorta.
If you’ve honored the Riesling and pounded the pét-nat, then you need to “unicorn” it up and get a bottle of Viña Tondonia Rosado Gran Reserva. Anything less is cool-factor failure and I will cease any and all worship of you. Sorry, those are the rules.
But hey, don’t freak out at this point. If all of this starts to overwhelm, just get what’s on sale on the bottom shelf of your local gas station. The alcohol will be high enough to speed the evening along, even it’s from Pittsburg, especially if it’s from Pittsburg. Seriously, if billionaire Jerry Jones can buy his wine at the gas station, so can you.
Red wine, a masculine femininity
Maybe you’re not buying into the pink though? Maybe that’s just a little too sellout-y for Valentine’s Day? Well friends, you’re headed to the reds then because in case you didn’t know, “red wine is the best wine out there for sex” and what’s that? Yes, Valentine’s Day = Sex.
The obvious choice is to pick solely based upon name. Go and grab from the Scrabble bag that’s one of the 6,000 different wines with “amore” in the name. These are made everywhere from Italy to California, literally, everywhere. What’s in it? Who cares! It’s says “love” on the damned bottle!
Be careful choosing on name alone though. Mènage à Trois could either get you into a lot of trouble, or a very different kind of evening than what you had in mind. Anything with “Bitch”, “Prick”, or “Hampton Waters” in the name is a likely failure as well, no matter how irony-prone your partner may be. If “Trump” is stated anywhere on the bottle it will definitely kill the mood just like it did from 2016-2020.
You’re in the last stretch of the evening however and maybe it’s time to hit the heavy shit. The kind of red wine you’d drink at a Superbowl party or when the whisky runs out [will never happen] at the pub.
I’m talking the bashiest of bashers like: Amarone, Californian Zinfandel, cheap Spanish Grenache, Californian Cabernet Sauvignon (at any price), Argentine Malbec from 2010, or the cheapest Australian Shiraz from Murray Darling (Yellowtail). The simple reason is that these are all super fruity and super boozy.
The sweet kiss of dessert
As we squeeze the last drizzle out of the reds, we’re on to dessert and what’s the sweet most consumed on Valentine’s Day? Yes, that’s right, chocolate. And what wine pairs with chocolate? Nothing. There are truly no wines that are actually good with chocolate. Remember that and be free.
“But what about Port? Port and chocolate are very nice people say!” Good cheese is even better with Port and honestly, if you what to say “I Wuv You Dis Much”, show up with a Vintage Port and a block of Brie.
“Banyuls and Maury really make for quite a treat when had with chocolate!” Sure, very dark chocolate, but so do dried nuts and what’s better innuendo than snacking on a bit of Banyuls and tasty, tasty nuts at the end of a hard-won Valentine’s Day?
Someone who lost the use of their frontal cortex in a tragic balloon animal accident even said that Brachetto d’Acqui is great with chocolate. No. This lightly-sweet, sparkling wine is best with salumi and Jesus, we’re almost at the end of this, don’t go back to the appetizers!
So there, you’ve arrived. It’s sexy time, if you’re still conscious. What, you passed out on Valentine’s Day?!! Oh you unrepentant cad! Now I have to forgive you for having chocolate with that Vin de France Chablis because you knew damned well what you were doing when you got up this morning.
Happy Valentine’s Day!