Valentine’s Day is a polarizing “holiday.” Some people love it and expect their partners to do the most, some feel it’s exclusionary, and others (me) think it’s a ridiculous Hallmark holiday that’s meant to make us spend money on stuff we don’t need and fight for reservations at overcrowded restaurants with mediocre pre fixe menus (I know, so romantic). BUT any day is a good day to drink wine, and February 14 is no exception.
Whether you have big plans with a significant other, decided to throw a party with friends or simply insist on hibernating until it’s over, you can’t go wrong with these 15 Valentine’s Day wines. We chose bottles that we find either celebratory, great with food or perfect for winter weather, and our editors sampled them alongside the gorgeous Boarderie Valentine’s Arte Cheese & Charcuterie Board. Here’s what we thought of each and how we would drink them on Valentine’s Day — and any other day of the year.
Picpoul is mostly found in Languedoc wines, but Paso Robles winery Halter Ranch decided to use it in this spectacular sparkling. It’s bright, crisp and clean, with touches of tangy fruit flavors like guava and lemon. One taster said it’s “definitely special occasion-worthy,” so we recommend shucking some oysters and popping this bottle for a fun V-Day night.
This light, elegant wine is perfect for anyone who prefers their Champagne to taste bright and zesty versus robust and bready. A classic Champagne blend of chardonnay, pinot noir and meunier, it has a pale pink color with a few celebratory glints of gold. One of our tasters called it “dry and pleasant,” and we think it would be a perfect pairing for fruit-topped or lemon desserts.
Maison Henriot has been around since 1808, and it’s one of the few Champagne houses that’s remained independent and family-owned since its founding. This rosé is also made from a blend of pinot noir, chardonnay and pinot meunier, and it has a light body and crisp acidity. One editor said it’s “bright and smooth, [perfect] for drinking with the gals,” so it’s an ideal pour if you’re spending Valentine’s Day with friends.
We tasted this delicious Champagne when we toasted our move to the new InsideHook office, and everyone loved it. It has gorgeous, vivacious bubbles with a perfect mix of fruit (think raspberry and strawberry) and rich almond flavors on the palate. Bust out your finest charcuterie platter and have a glass (or two) of this to kick off the night, whatever you’re doing.
This was another wine that we sampled in the office before our official Valentine’s Day wine tasting, and it was one of the biggest crowd-pleasers I’ve ever served. Pinot noir and grenache give this California wine juicy, fruit-forward notes of cherry and apple, but it also has a beautiful minerality that makes us thirsty for more. Whether you’re hanging with your friends or a significant other, serve this wine with savory hors d’oeuvres (it would be a perfect Super Bowl wine, too).
If you think you don’t like chardonnay, then you’ve probably never tried Chablis, a wine that’s made in the region of the same name in Burgundy, France. Unlike many chardonnays that are barrel-aged, Chablis is not, so it has a much more fresh and citrus-forward palate than its woody, buttery cousins. Our tasters loved it, saying it has “a lot of personality,” and one even got some herbal flavors on the palate. Pair it with charcuterie or “grilled chicken,” as suggested by one editor.
This Napa chardonnay, on the other hand, spends 10 months aging in French oak, which gives it a rich, elegant flavor with flavors of pear and baking spices. While you could certainly drink it now, it could also be aged for future consumption. One taster noted the pleasant “small bite it has at the end” and said they would “want this as a V-Day gift.”
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Yes, we tried two California chardonnays because we think they’re wonderful for drinking with decadent, winter-friendly dishes (think butter chicken). Carneros spends nine months in American and French oak barrel, which gives it a lightly buttery flavor, but not enough to dull its bright acidity. One editor mentioned that “the oak is perfect,” and another notes that it “would be great with dinner or for dinner.”
We are loving the wines coming out of Texas, and this blend of sangiovese and malbec is no different. Our tasters noted it has a “nice finish,” while another said it was “my fave” because it’s “flavorful and fruity but not heavy.” The palate is well-balanced with an elegant mix of tannins and red fruits, perfect for sipping solo or pairing with a dish like chicken marsala or “Texas brisket,” as one taster suggested.
Chianti Classico is central Tuscany’s most famous wine, and for good reason. It’s based on food-friendly sangiovese, but Santa Margherita adds a small amount of merlot and cabernet sauvignon to the mix for extra oomph. One editor said it was “nice and warm, a smart choice for a cold winter night.” This wine is begging for a cozy movie night at home.
This rich, juicy wine is a blend of mostly sangiovese and a little cabernet sauvignon, which makes it a perfect pairing for stewed meats, especially game. Because it’s from Tuscany, we suggest pairing it with peposo, a traditional red wine beef stew from Florence. But one of our panelists said it would also be a “great way to end the night when someone prompts, ‘one more drink?’”
The tempranillo that went into this wine came from vines planted in clay-limestone soils, and it was hand-harvested and aged for two years in American oak (first-fill barrels in the first year and four-year-old barrels in the second). It has pleasant tannins with a balsamic finish, making it a food-friendly wine for lightly grilled meat and fish and pastas and stews. But one taster even thought it “would be good with chocolate.”
Hailing from Fredericksburg, Texas, this Rhone-style blend is made from mourvedre, cinsault and syrah grapes, which give it a luscious fruit-forward flavor and balanced tannins. One taster appreciated the “lighter body but super flavorful” nature of this wine, and another said to “pair it with BBQ” to celebrate the Texas terroir. We think it makes for a super romantic bottle, no matter how you drink it.
We love a classic Languedoc red, and this blend of syrah, grenache and carignan really fits the bill. Schist and limestone soils give the hand-harvested grapes a nice minerality, which shows through in this easy-drinking wine. One editor said it would pair perfectly with a salty cured meat like prosciutto.
This Rhone Valley syrah is an intense cherry-red color, making it a perfect match for Valentine’s Day. The palate is bursting with ripe red fruits, a touch of blueberries and a little bit of the pepper-like spice that syrah is known for. One taster loved its “smooth” flavor, while another said it had “first date energy.”
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