Valentine’s Day is a special time for lovebirds to celebrate their bond. One of the most romantic ways to do this is by enjoying a glass of wine together. But with so many different types of wine to choose from, it can be overwhelming to decide what to serve on this special day. Luckily, you have me. As both an aphrodisiac foods expert and wine critic, I have a unique insight into the best wine for Valentine’s Day or any romantic occasion.
What are the best Valentine’s Day wines? The answer might surprise you!
Choosing the ideal wine for a romantic dinner is more than just splurging on something exotic, expensive or rare. Back in my days as a freelance wine writer, I was hired to write a piece for The Daily Meal where I had to pick out “10 Perfect Wines for Valentine’s Day or any Romantic Occasion.” Trust me, choosing just 10 wines is no easy feat. But I dug into the research of the late Dr. Max Lake, who discovered that the aromas of certain wines could spark romance.
Dr. Lake discovered that certain wine aromas can mimic human pheromones and trigger attraction. It might sound crazy but it’s true—just a whiff of wine could potentially rev up the mood. So getting the wine right can be a form of foreplay.
Picking the wine your partner likes
Don’t just buy a wine because it’s supposed to be mood-enhancing. Remember your partner’s taste. Think about what style of wine they might dig—and you can both enjoy. Because at the end of the day, a romantic evening together is all about showing that you care.
White wines & sparkling wines
If your partner prefers white wine and you want to pick your wine based on Dr. Lake’s research you need to start thinking about aromas. But you also need to think about what your date is going to enjoy. There are a variety of white wines with sexy characteristics so you have some choices.
Dr. Lake recommended looking for white wines with feral and sweaty, (yes, sweaty), notes as well as earthy characteristics like petrol and minerality. (In other words wet stones.) Other scents to look for are citrus and white flowers. This might all sound odd if you’re not used to talking about wine aromas. But don’t worry, these are not strange and unusual armoas. Many popular wines have these alluring characteristics.
You might find these characteristics in white wines like aged, dry Rieslings, white Burgundy wines, Blanc de Blancs Champagnes and sparkling wines and some American Chardonnays.
Red wines for Valentine’s Day
And as for the reds? They’ve got their own potentially sexy aromas. Look for earthy vibes like truffle, tobacco, cedar, leather, and violets.
What type of red wine smells like leather and truffles? Not every red has these aromas, but you’ll often pick up these masculine scents in American Cabernet Sauvignons, red Burgundies, some Australian Shiraz and some Rhône red blends. You may also find some of these characteristics in a Pinot Noir. But these traits can pop up in wines from all over the world.
There are more ways to choose that perfect romantic wine for Valentine’s Day. Serving a wine that’s special to both of you is a sure win, even if it doesn’t fit those specific wine profiles I mentioned earlier. Maybe you’ve got a favorite wine from your wedding or that first special date. That could make a romantic win for Valentine’s.
How to buy the best wine for Valentine’s Day on a budget
Although Valentine’s Day is an occasion most of us feel is worth the splurge, “splurging” is different for everyone. You don’t need to feel pressure to spend hundreds of dollars on a wine for Valentine’s Day just because the wine is more “special.” (Believe it or not, not all expensive wines are good wines!)
Set your budget before you hit the wine store. It’s totally fine if your limit is on the lower side. And if it’s a bit higher, no need to spend it all. The key is to pick a wine that both you and your partner will remember. The staff at a good wine shop will help you out. If you prefer shopping online, give Wine Access a try—they’ve got some interesting and unusual options and ways to search based on flavors.
Can you pick a wine by the label?
You might think that choosing a wine based on its label is a no-go, but here’s the thing: on Valentine’s Day, a label that screams “love” can add a fun touch.
And don’t think that because the name is clever or the label is “cute” the wine in the bottle isn’t as good as something with a “serious” label. That is not necessarily true. Winemaking is a romantic pursuit. That’s probably why there are so many well-made wines with names or imagery based around love.
Just keep in mind you can’t just judge a wine by its cover. What’s inside that bottle has to be as good as the label promises. But don’t worry, there are tons of top-quality, romantically named wines out there. I’ve listed some of my favorites below.
Six romantic wine recommendations for a date night in
1. Iron Horse Wedding Cuvee Sparkling Wine (Green Valley, California)
This blushing pink sparkling wine was crafted with the intention that it would be served for romantic occasions. Seriously this wine was made for romance! Serve it with all of your favorite aphrodisiacs from oysters to chocolate.
2. Amour de Deutz Rosé Champagne (Champagne, France)
If you want a wine that simply tastes like drinking luxury, this rosé sparkling wine is an outstanding choice. It offers refinement and elegance and the allure of Champagne. It may be the best wine for intimacy I’ve ever found.
3. Evoke Winery Never Have I Ever Riesling (Oregon)
This is a fun and fresh wine with a playful name. (The winery was formerly called Naked.) If your lover enjoys something slightly sweet, this easy-drinking wine made from Riesling grapes is going to score. It is also a fun wine to drink with your Galentines.
4. Loveblock Pinot Noir (Central Otago, New Zealand)
This fairly robust New Zealand Pinot Noir offers many of the sensual aromas I discussed above. If you want a Valentine red wine that may make your lover think lusty thoughts, this might be the one!
5. Joseph Drouhin Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru “Les Amoureuses” (Burgundy, France)
If you are serious about wines and want something simply fabulous for a romantic occasion, this is the wine to drink. Impressively robust yet faintly feminine, this is a sensual and indulgent wine for any romantic occasion.
6. Blackbird Vineyards Paramour (Napa Valley, California)
This Cabernet Franc and Merlot red wine blend is my favorite American red wine for romantic occasions. And if you’re spending Valentine’s Day alone, this wine would make a suitable paramour for a little self-care!
Looking for more tips on finding wines for your date night? Check out my article on The Best Inexpensive Champagnes for Valentine’s Day.
Need a hand planning that dreamy dinner? Get my tips for planning a memorable Valentine’s Day meal.
Need help finding a great wine retailer to help you select the right Valentine’s Day wine? Here are a few resources I can recommend:
This article was originally published in 2016. It was most recently updated in January 2023.
Pink wine photo by Luke Southern
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