Honestly, my favorite part about February is the Valentine’s Day wine. It doesn’t matter if I’m single or taken, there’s one thing that’s a certainty: I’m popping open a nice bottle of vino!
Whether you’re celebrating with a loved one or partaking in Galentine’s Day festivities this year, this holiday is ideal for the wine lover. Plus, we’ve all had a long year, and it’s the perfect opportunity to treat ourselves! Today, I’m sharing my top five wine picks for Valentine’s Day!
Top 5 Valentine’s Day Wine Options
Valentine’s Day Wine Pick #1: Champagne
Ok, but how often do you drink actual champagne? I’m not talking about sparkling wine, prosecco, or cava — I mean the real deal champagne?
Valentine’s Day is a special occasion, after all, and I recommend you use this opportunity to break out a bottle of the good stuff. I have a couple of recommendations for champagne: the Veuve Clicquot Vintage Rosé 2008 Champagne and the Taittinger Brut La Francaise. Both of these wines are matured to perfection and have a perfect balance.
You can open a bottle of champagne to kick off your festivities early in the evening. Drink it on its own, or pair these wines with a triple-creme cheese, shellfish, or anything with mushroom. Heck, champagne even tastes amazing with popcorn, to be honest, if it’s that type of Valentine’s Day. No judgment here!
Valentine’s Day Pick #2: Sparkling Wine from the USA
If you’ve got champagne taste on a beer budget, never fear: there are plenty of sparkling wines that are produced in the U.S. that taste heavenly!
So, you see where I suggested Tattinger champagne in the section above? Well, they also have a vineyard in California, and they produce sparkling wine under the name Domaine Carneros. It technically can’t be called champagne because it’s produced in California, but man: it tastes like the real deal. Plus, you can get a bottle of it for $25-30 at the grocery store, which is less than half of what a bottle of Tattinger would cost.
Another sparkling wine that I’m a huge fan of is the Thibaut-Janisson – Blanc de Chardonnay. This wine is produced in good ol’ Virginia, and I try to bring all of my wine-loving friends in other states a bottle of this whenever I travel. Fun fact: this wine was served at the White House at state dinners. This sparkling wine is perfectly balanced, crisp and refreshing, and is one of our favorites!
Valentine’s Day Pick #3: White Wine from South Africa
One country that should definitely be on your radar right now is South Africa.
Early last year, I hoped to plan a trip to South Africa in 2021, but those hopes quickly diminished once COVID-19 spread like wildfire and caused shutdowns across the globe. And at this point, I’m hoping the wineries on my bucket list will still be there by the time it’s safe to visit.
As of January 5th, South Africa has banned all alcohol sales to help flatten the curve (source). It is currently summer in South Africa, and a lot of these wineries are missing out on peak tourist season. That, plus the fact that they can’t even sell their product domestically, could equal disaster for their wine industry.
So the next time you see a South African wine in the grocery store, give it a try and help support their vineyards. Some popular varietals from South Africa include Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Pinotage, Shiraz/Syrah, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir.
Valentine’s Day Pick #4: A Montepulciano or Chianti Classico from Italy
Ok, let’s talk about something equally as important: what you’re going to eat on Valentine’s Day.
If you’re planning on enjoying beef for dinner, I highly recommend picking up a bottle of Montepulciano or Chianti Classico to pair with your dish. One of my favorite bottles is the Selvapiana Chianti Rufina. You can find it for under $20 at the grocery store, and it’s dry with notes of cherry, pepper, and vanilla.
Valentine’s Day Pick #5: A Bordeaux Red Wine
I might be totally biased here because Bordeaux-style blends are my favorite type of wine, but these will pair nicely with almost any dish you’re having for Valentine’s Day. Plus, it’s pretty easy to pick one out at the grocery store, IMO!
Bordeaux red wine will pair nicely with savory meats like beef, pork, and duck, but surprisingly, they also work really well with many Asian dishes and sauces. There’s a good chance that no matter what type of meal you’re having on Valentine’s Day, that a Bordeaux wine will pair perfectly with it!
A tip for reading Bordeaux wines’ labels: if the label says “Grand Cru,” then the vineyard has a favorable reputation for wine production. If a label reads “Premier Cru,” that’s the highest level of distinction that a winery can get in the region. Look out for one of these distinctions on the label when you’re purchasing a Bordeaux wine!
What Valentine’s Day wine will you be enjoying this year? Let me know in the comments below!
Photos by Tom McGovern