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Consider the Atmosphere
Before you start looking for the best wine for Valentine’s Day, you should imagine what your ideal celebration will look like. Have you made reservations at an impressive restaurant? Are you planning on cooking for your significant other at home? Do you want to have a picnic at the place where you first met? Each of these romantic celebrations calls for a very different style of wine.
In some cases, a restaurant will have a special main dish on their menu for Valentine’s Day, and this special dish will often revolve around flavorful, expensive meats like filet mignon or lamb. Because of this, a bold, complex red wine is often a safe choice for your Valentine’s Day meal. Of course, if you or your partner are vegetarian or if the restaurant specializes in seafood or poultry, then a rich, buttery white wine may be ideal. If you’re considering bringing your own wine to the restaurant, call in advance to ask about corkage policies and the restaurant’s own wine list. The chef or sommelier on staff may already have a brilliant selection of wines that pair perfectly with the menu, so bringing your own bottle may be unnecessary. However, if the restaurant is happy to open your bottle for you and you have a fine wine you’ve been looking forward to drinking, like a 1988 Margaux, then this may be the perfect opportunity to uncork it.
When you cook a romantic meal at home, you have more freedom to choose the perfect wine for Valentine’s Day that will complement the dish and make your significant other happy. You can even plan your meal around the wine, making dishes that spotlight a special bottle. You may pair the wine with music or create your own tasting tour, moving from the lightest, most aromatic wines to the boldest and richest in your collection.
Picnics or Other Unusual Locations
If you’re planning on eating outdoors, like at a beach or a park, then you’ll need to pick a wine that travels well. Although sediment-heavy, mature red wines taste wonderful after they’ve been decanted for a few hours, this type of wine may not be as delicious if you have to carry it in a portable wine cooler for hours at a time. The sediment at the base of the bottle may mix with the rest of the wine, or the wine may end up with bottle shock, causing the wine to taste blander than it should. To avoid this, either choose bottles that are meant to be drunk young and have little sediment, or go with Champagne instead.
When in doubt, a great bottle of aged Champagne is the perfect wine for Valentine’s Day, no matter what your celebration looks like. You can bring a vintage bottle of Krug to a fine restaurant, or uncork it at home, or bring it with you on a romantic walk along the beach. As long as you keep Champagne cool, it’s a nearly foolproof wine for Valentine’s Day which pairs wonderfully with a wide range of foods and doesn’t require decanting.
Select Milestone Vintages
Once you’ve decided what style of wine you want to serve (light and aromatic, or bold and rich), you should consider the wine’s vintage. For the most part, aged, mature bottles of wine make the best picks for Valentine’s Day because these wines are more special and the flavors more complex. Tasting notes from wine critics should tell you when the wine will likely be ready to drink, and you can use this information to plan out future Valentine’s dinners in advance. For example, a bottle of 2009 Méo-Camuzet is still too young to drink; critic Antonio Galloni recommends waiting until at least 2019 to drink this wine, and perhaps until 2034. Knowing this, you should wait until next year, at least, before you uncork one of these wines.
Choosing the right vintage can also make your Valentine’s Day celebration more special. If you’re planning on serving an aged wine, choose wines from the year you and your significant other started dating or got married. Alternatively, you may pick wines from your birth years. If, on the other hand, you want to serve a younger wine for Valentine’s Day, then choose a wine that was made in your favorite vacation spot, or a place that has some other deep meaning for you as a couple. Of course, you’ll also want to choose wines that appeal to your own taste preferences and those of your partner.
Our Favorite Wine for Valentine’s Day
While the best wine for Valentine’s Day will depend on what you plan on doing and what style of wine you enjoy most, there are some vintages with which you just can’t go wrong. Here are a few suggestions for excellent wines that you may enjoy this February:
While the wines in the lists above will make perfect complements to nearly any Valentine’s Day meal, the wine you choose will ultimately depend on your own preferences and the preferences of your significant other. It’s important to stay true to your own opinions and tastes–never feel pressured into serving a certain bottle of wine just because it received perfect scores from critics. Instead, stick with the wines that you know you and your partner adore. At the end of the day, the perfect wine for Valentine’s Day is any bottle that the two of you can enjoy together and that will help you create lasting memories.
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