Save the brew for the game and the expensive cocktails for a night out with friends—a romantic occasion such as Valentine’s Day dinner calls for a bottle of wine. Even if you are not a habitual vino drinker, finding the perfect pairing for any meal doesn’t have to be a daunting, wallet-draining task. So tonight, warm up to these romantic steals that all deliver value, quality, and a little je ne sais quois.
Goose Watch Pinot Noir Brut Rosé NV, Finger Lakes, $15
Dry American sparkling rosé is as romantic in appearance as it is in the mouth, with its bubbly feel and notes of dry fruit and minerality. If oysters are a must for your romantic meal, this sparkler is the appropriate pairing.
Il Cuore Chardonnay '08, Mendocino, $14
Il Cuore, or "My Heart," is an exotic, smoky, and unusual California Chardonnay, with the addition of Viognier generating guava and kiwi nuances. The use of subtle oak enables this rich, clean white to match heavier foods while standing up particularly well to citrus.
Georges Duboeuf St-Amour '09, $12
A place so full of love it was named for it, the St-Amour cru of Beaujolais is responsible for this soft, subtle, and elegant Gamay. This grape, famous for its bright fruit and lack of tannins, can stand up to big fish (think tuna), lean meats (like tenderloin), and spiced dishes.
Tarima Monastrell '09, Jumilla, $9
Labeled with a striking image of the passionflower is this old-vines Spanish Monastrell, which sports lots of oak-less red fruit and voluptuous texture in its inaugural 2009 vintage. Treat it as you would a bright Shiraz, as it’s perfect with meats or to replace dessert.
K Vintners The Velvet Devil Merlot '09, Washington, $13
Like liquid velvet, the Velvet Devil offers bright, ripe fruit with a silky texture. This style of wine is what made today’s Merlot famous. Drink with lamb lollipops, and save a little in your glass to pair with a chocolate dessert.
Rosenblum Desiré Chocolate Zinfandel Dessert Wine NV, California, 375ml, $15
Seal the deal with this decadent, sweet red from California. Nuances of chocolate make Desiré an irresistible pick. This Port-style “sticky” is made from Zinfandel, plus two Portuguese varietals, and is infused with quality chocolate.