My idea of the perfect Valentine’s Day wine is generally either vintage Champagne or aged red Burgundy. However, last year, we decided to try something a little different. We chose a bottle of 1961 Château Prieuré du Monastir Del Camp Rivesaltes–a truly special wine that had fascinating flavors of fresh citrus and dried fruit. Serving decades-old Grenache was an unexpectedly great Valentine’s Day wine idea because it made the evening much more memorable. My spouse and I have shared dozens of bottles of Champagne together, but we’ve only had one bottle of 1961 Grenache from the Languedoc.
Coming up with unique, memorable Valentine’s Day wine ideas can be difficult because there are thousands of subregions and varieties to choose from. How do you know which wine will make a lasting impression on your loved one? To celebrate this holiday in style, consider which wines best fit the occasion, the menu, and your own personalities. Choosing the perfect celebratory wine is a great way to show the most important person in your life just how much you adore them.
Valentines Day Wine Ideas: From Fine Dining to Romantic Picnics
Coming up with the perfect Valentine’s Day wine idea is easiest when you already have the entire day planned, since some wines will simply be more appropriate for the occasion than others. For example, a bottle of 2000 Château Latour wouldn’t seem out of place at a Michelin-starred restaurant, but if you plan on ordering Chinese takeout and watching cheesy romantic comedies together, a wine like this will probably feel too formal. Just because a wine is exceptionally high in quality doesn’t inherently make it the perfect wine for Valentine’s Day.
To pick the right bottle for the occasion, follow these tips:
For Formal Dinners at Upscale Restaurants
If you’re going out to eat with your loved one, you can either choose a wine from the restaurant’s list or bring your own wine from home. The benefit of picking a wine out at the restaurant is that you can choose which wines speak to you in the moment. You might pick a wine based on the entrée you ordered or have the sommelier put together a full tasting menu.
Bringing your own wine to a restaurant offers you more flexibility and shows your date that you put some thought into the planning process.
However, ordering wine off the restaurant’s list doesn’t feel as special as bringing your own wine from home. If you have a certain wine in mind with special meaning for you and your loved one, there’s no guarantee that the restaurant has it in stock. Bringing your own wine offers you more flexibility and shows your date that you put some thought into the planning process. This is your moment to go all out with a wine that even the sommelier will find impressive. Here are a few 100-point bottles that your date won’t soon forget:
- 1982 Château La Mission Haut-Brion
- 2010 Domaine du Pégau Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée da Capo
- 2008 Louis Roederer Cristal
- 2007 Vérité La Muse
- 2001 Château d’Yquem
All of the wines above are rich enough to stand up to nearly any food item on the menu, making them an excellent choice for a formal Valentine’s Day dinner. Keep in mind that fine restaurants often charge corkage fees (as much as $150) when you bring your own wine.
For Casual Dinners at Home
Staying at home means you have an even larger range of Valentine’s Day wine ideas to choose from. Anything from mass-produced table wine to an elegant bottle of aged Champagne is perfectly appropriate for a homemade meal. The wine you choose depends on the type of food you’re serving and the atmosphere you want to set.
For example, if you want your date to feel relaxed and comfortable, choose a mid-priced wine that received high scores from critics. 2006 Taittinger Comtes De Champagne and 2010 Château Léoville-Poyferré are both exceptional wines that your date will find impressive, yet they’re not so rare or valuable that you’ll feel strange about serving the wine with homemade pasta.
If your date is also a wine connoisseur or you want your homemade dinner to feel more formal, opt for rare, older, or grand cru bottles instead. Serving 2005 Château Margaux, 2003 Château Montrose, or 1996 Château Latour will elevate your homemade meal, making it feel as if you’re dining in an award-winning restaurant.
These Valentine’s Day wine ideas also apply if you’re staying at a hotel or resort. You can ask the hotel’s staff to keep your wine at serving temperature and bring it to you when you order room service.
If you’re planning a casual picnic with your date, avoid bringing your favorite aged Maison Louis Jadot or Domaine de la Romanée-Conti. Not only could your wine get damaged on the way to the picnic spot, but older wines also don’t travel well. Bottle shock can make the wine taste closed-off, more sediment will make its way into your glasses, and you’ll have a harder time getting the fragile cork out of the bottle while sitting on uneven terrain. Instead, look for young, approachable wines that you won’t mind spilling a bit when you pour the first glass. A few great options are 2017 Domaine Hut Haut Lieu Vouvray Clos du Bourg Demi-Sec, 2015 Heritage Animo Sauvignon Blanc, and 2016 Beaux Frères The Beaux Frères Vineyard Pinot Noir.
Wine Bar Crawls
One unique and entertaining Valentine’s Day wine idea is to visit various wine bars around the city. You won’t have to worry about buying wine for the occasion and it can be fun tasting a range of wines throughout the night. Moreover, because most couples are enjoying formal, sit-down dinners, you might find a few empty seats at the bar. Just remember to hail a taxi or order a rideshare at the end of the night.
If your relationship has some history, you can take things one step further by picking out a few wines that have special meaning for you and your loved one. You can do this by incorporating your own personalities and preferences into your Valentine’s Day celebration.
Put a Personal Spin on Your Wine Choice
One of my friends really outdid himself for his Valentine’s Day celebration last year. He took his wife to one of her favorite restaurants and surprised her with not one, but three exceptional bottles that had a deep meaning for both of them. The first bottle was 2008 Pol Roger Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill–they served an older vintage of this same wine at their wedding reception decades ago. He also brought her a bottle of 2005 Maison Louis Latour Corton-Charlemagne (their tenth-anniversary vintage) and a bottle of 2015 Maison Louis Jadot Mazis-Chambertin (their 20th-anniversary vintage). While they couldn’t get through all of the wine that night, she was thrilled to see how much effort he made to celebrate their relationship’s long history.
This holiday is all about celebrating who you are as a couple.
No two relationships are alike, so why should your Valentine’s Day wine choice be cookie-cutter? To personalize your celebration, you can:
- Celebrate an anniversary year or milestone. You may also pick different vintages from the same producer to see how the wine has evolved over the decades.
- Pick a wine from each of your birth years. One good way to choose a birth year wine is to select one white and one red, or one dessert wine and one dry wine. The idea is to serve one wine at the beginning of the night, and one over dinner or at the end of the celebration with dessert.
- Shop for wine from regions that hold special meaning for you as a couple. For example, if the two of you vacationed in South Africa, seek out a few wines from this region.
- Play to your date’s taste. If your date has a sweet tooth, look for very sweet wines like Sauternes or vintage port.
The most important tip to remember is that you don’t have to stick with the same bottles of Champagne or romantic red wines to have a successful Valentine’s Day dinner. This holiday is all about celebrating who you are as a couple. Picking out rare, unusual, or meaningful wines will make the celebration one that you’ll both remember fondly.