Best Wines for Valentine’s Day, According to Reviewers

The life of a wine critic involves long hours, thousands of miles traveled and a plethora of wines tasted. So it comes as no surprise when we’re asked questions from novices and connosieurs alike.

This week, the topic at hand is Valentine’s Day. Have no fear, our reviewers are here, as time is of the essence. 

Dear Wine Advocate Reviewers, My significant other is quite the wine connoisseur and I’m looking to knock her socks off this Valentine’s Day. To you, what wine is the best expression of love?  I realize this is a loaded question for someone like yourself as you taste some 5,000 wines per year, so I’ll pare my criteria down a bit further. I’m looking for a full-bodied red and budgeting myself to $50. Many thanks, in advance, for your help on the matter. Sincerely, Lost

In managing editor Joe Czerwinski’s house, chocolate is always on the menu for Valentine’s Day. “For my tastes, there is no better option than sweet wines made from Grenache,” he says. “The variety is soft, enrobing tannins that blend easily with the tannins in chocolate, creating the sort of sweet boozy harmony that [hopefuly] transcends the meal.” 

Czerwinski looks to the Rhône Valley for his favorites: “Look for Rasteau Vin Doux Naturel. The 2015 from André Roméro’s Domaine de la Soumade features cocoa and raspberry shadings that would be perfect with a not-too-sweet mousse au chocolat.”
The grounds of Domaine La Tour Vieille. (Photo courtesy of Domaine La Tour Vieille.)

Those having trouble finding this particular styles can opt for wines from the Banyuls AOP in Roussillon. “Producers making wines worth trying include Domaine de Bila-Haut, Domaine du Mas Blanc, Domaine La Tour Vieille, Domaine Vial Magneres and Les Clos de Paulilles.”

“Valentine’s Day is tricky,” says reviewer and sommelier Erin Brooks. “If you don’t celebrate it, there’s pressure. If you do, there’s pressure.” But when it comes down to it, "There’s nothing more fitting for the romance of Valentine’s Day than a wine from the island Sicily," Brooks says. "The 50- to 100-year-old Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio vines used for the 2014 Tenuta delle Terre Nere Etna Rosso Calderara Sottana are grown at over 2,000 feet in elevation on the rocky, black volcanic soils of the northern slope of Mount Etna. The fabled volcano in the Mediterranean Sea recalls Greek and Roman mythology of the gods of fire and the soft, ruby red color comes from a single cru, Calderara Sottana, referring to a caldera or cauldron (I imagine witches brewing love potions). It’s finessed and elegant while maintaining a rustic charm, with leathery, dusty notes over a fabric of red fruit and flowers. It’s the perfect beginning for a night of passion, served with light red meats or on its own—just be sure to light a fire."

“My Valentine’s choice would be an Amarone,” says Italy reviewer, Monica Larner. “Even its name sounds like ‘amore.’ It’s high alcoholic content is perfect for a romantic evening by the fireplace as the snow falls softly outside. Specifically, I’d recommend the 2010 Dal Forno Romano Amarone della Valpolicella Monte Lodoletta, as this wine fuels a deep sense of inner warmth, soothing calm and amorous whispers. And Amarone is made just outside Verona, backdrop to Romeo and Juliet—the most romantic city on earth.”

Want to learn more about wine? Follow Robert Parker Wine Advocate on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

More articles from this author