Finding That Special Bottle for Valentine's Day
It's February, so it's time to find that special bottle of wine for your valentine. Wine educator and sommelier Danielle Botros gives some tips on how to make the most of it.
I’ve got some tips up my sleeve for finding the perfect bottle of wine for Valentine's Day. I’m all about finding “unique” rather than off the charts expensive and because there are so many amazing wines out there, it’s good to narrow down the style of wine you’re looking for. If you know, for example, that you want to go with a big, mouth-filling, tannic red with beautiful oak with a wow factor — and Cabernet might be on your mind — just know that there are other options in the world of wine that have similar flavor profiles and can be just as satisfying.
Here in the U.S. we tend to focus on the grape, or varietal, and tend to buy based on what we know. Most U.S. producers — and more and more non-domestic wineries — are putting the grape on the label to make it easier for the consumer to know what they are getting. But in most of Europe, they have always named their wines by the region vs the grape, i.e., Bordeaux, Burgundy, Barolo, Chianti, etc. It’s the consumer’s job to know what the grapes are in that region. It’s important to note, though, that if you have a sense — stylistically — of the wine region, you don’t always have to know exactly what the grapes are to know what type of wine you’re buying.
And so, in light of the amorous season, I’ve chosen to focus on two “hotter” regions that cater to my Latin Lover mood.
Spain’s Beautiful Values
There are so many wine regions that offer such great bang for your buck. A European country which has some gorgeous, “new world-style” wines is Spain. Tempranillo, Spain’s most well known grape, is a fantastic go-to wine and is often blended with Syrah, Grenache, Carignan and sometimes Cabernet. You’ll find that many of these wines come from Rioja, the region north of Madrid, as well as from Ribera del Duero and Priorat. These are often voluptuous, juicy wines and can range from around $15 all the way up to several hundred dollars. Maybe you’ve bought that special someone a ticket to Spain – celebrate your trip with a delicious bottle of Tempranillo?
Argentina’s Carnivore-loving Wines
Another region in the world where you’ll find bigger, fuller-bodied wines, and this time — new world — is Argentina.
The most planted red grape is Malbec. It’s one of the classic blending grapes in Bordeaux and has certainly caught on, so you’re probably familiar. What’s interesting about these wines from the Southern Hemisphere is that they couldn’t be more different from their French counterpart. Typically, they’re bold, ripe, mouth-filling beauties, and not an expected gift, shall we say?
These are just two ideas but the list goes on and on. So decide what style of wine you’d like for your better half —and for you, too, honestly, right? They can’t drink alone! Go to your favorite wine shop and ask your merchant lots of questions. Make them work for the sale. Empower yourself with new information. Branch outside your comfort zone and keep exploring. You’ll thank me for it!