Elixirs of Love
What makes a wine the right wine for a romantic occasion? Is it a name that suggests romance? Or perhaps it is a saucy label that will turn the drinkers’ minds toward things other than wine tasting that makes the most romantic wines?
The research of one vintner, the late Dr. Max Lake, suggests that it is the scent of a wine that makes it a catalyst for romance. Through his research, Dr. Lake discovered that the scents of certain wines could actually replicate that of human pheromones.
While all these things could potentially work to turn an evening from an amiable dinner to a night of romance, we believe that the key to choosing a romantic wine is pairing it to your dining companion’s taste preferences. So, while an earthy Pinot Noir has the potential to turn on a mate with one whiff of its sensual aroma, that really isn’t going to work if your amour is a white wine drinker. For that reason, we’ve created a well-rounded list of wines, with something for every taste and preference. We feel that each of these wines has a place in a romantic situation. But choosing the right one…well, that’s up to you!
1. 2014 Iron Horse Wedding Cuvée
Origin: Green Valley, California, USA
Varietal: 72% Pinot Noir, 28% Chardonnay
Price: $45 for 750 ml.
This is one of California’s best-known sparkling wines because it is so often the choice for celebrating life’s most romantic moments. A pale, blushing pink bubbly with a fine and steady stream of pinpoint-sized bubbles, it easily puts the punctuation on weddings, engagement parties and anniversary celebrations. And it is, of course, an annual favorite Valentine’s Day wine. A sparkling wine that consistently delivers year after year, it offers a gentle medley of red fruit and stone fruit flavors with just enough lime citrus to give it freshness.
For more information, visit Iron Horse official website.
2. 2015 Robert Mondavi Reserve Pinot Noir
Origin: Carneros, California, USA
Varietal: Pinot Noir
This Pinot Noir makes our list for its compelling combination of masculine and feminine notes. Its aromas are fruity and floral with notes of cherries, red currants and violets. Its flavors are voluptuous and sexy. Up front, you’re treated to bright and intense red fruits, but as the wine reaches the back of the palate, more masculine notes of mocha and spice take over. The effect is an exciting, full palate experience, and it is one that should please both lovers of fruitier reds and those who like a red with muscle.
For more information, visit Robert Mondavi official website.
3. Champagne Collet Brut Rosé
Origin: Aÿ, France
Varietal: 40% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir, 20% Pinot Meunier
For some occasions, nothing but pink Champagne will do. True, vibrant pink in hue, Champagne Collet’s Brut Rosé is the quintessential Valentine’s Day wine. Whether you’re celebrating Valentine’s Day, an anniversary or just a Tuesday night together, if you enjoy the “pop” of a cork on a bottle of pink bubbles, this wine is going to take you to your happy place.
A sparkling wine with positively frothy effervescence, it offers aromas of rose petals and vanilla. It bursts in the mouth with red fruit flavors and a sweet breakfast pastry note that lingers on the finish. (If Brut is more your style and you’re thirsty for Champagne, you may also want to check out our review of Champagne Collet’s Vintage Brut in GAYOT’s list of the Best Champagnes for Under $100.)
For more information, visit Champagne Collet official website.
4. 2018 Domaine de Cala Rosé
Origin: Provence, France
Varietal: 41% Grenache, 35% Cinsault, 15% Syrah, 6% Rolle, 1% Grenache Blanc, 1% Carignan, 1% Cabernet Sauvignon
France is filled with wineries whose history spans centuries. Domaine de Cala is not one of them. In fact, it is one of the youngest in the history of Provence. Yet, it is a winery that has already earned distinction. It is a recent venture for veteran restaurateur and celebrity chef Joachim Splichal — and the wines are of a quality you would expect from such an esteemed member of the food community. The Rosé offers a pale, almost golden hue. Its flavors are equally reserved. A dry, delicate and floral wine, its mineral finish makes you long for another sip.
For more information, visit Domaine de Cala official website.
5. 2018 Grosset Springvale Riesling
Origin: Clare Valley, Australia
Varietal: 100% Riesling
If ever there was a wine to make a case for Australian Riesling as a romantic occasion wine, this is it. The Springvale Riesling has long had a reputation as a good wine, but in 2018, all the elements came together to make this a special occasion wine at an affordable price. It begins with an aroma as intriguing as a freshly cut bouquet of roses. Although its flavors are bright and dominated by citrus, it somehow manages to maintain a soft, almost silky texture.
For more information, visit Grosset official website.
6. 2018 Ehlers Estate Sauvignon Blanc
Origin: St. Helena, California, USA
Varietal: 100% Sauvignon Blanc
If Sauvignon Blanc is among your favorite wine styles, then this is a romantic occasion wine for you. After all, the wine even has a heart on the bottle and the winery is affiliated with a foundation dedicated to heart health. The wine offers aromas reminiscent of a tropical getaway with guava, passion fruit and lemongrass. It’s a full-bodied yet finessed wine with bright, grapefruit acidity and refreshing pineapple and citrus fruit flavors.
For more information, visit Ehlers Estate official website.
7. 2014 The Lost Chapters Cabernet Franc
Origin: Napa Valley, California, USA
Varietal: Cabernet Franc
Price: $35 for 750 ml.
If you and your love enjoy sharing a bottle of no-holds-barred, American red wine, this beauty is going to fit the bill — but it will do so with some romantic nuances. On the nose, this Napa Cab Franc offers aromas of rose petal and wisteria, along with musky blackberries, tart rhubarb and toast. Although it’s undeniably a Californian wine, it has unexpected femininity with cranberry and red cherry acidity, sweet tannins and just a touch of mysterious spice. And about those Lost Chapters? This wine will surely inspire you and your lover to rewrite them with gusto!
For more information, visit J McClelland Cellars official website.
8. 2017 Inniskillin Vidal Icewine
Origin: Niagara Peninsula, Canada
Price: $50 for 375 ml.
Whether you’re looking to end a romantic evening on a sweet note or you and your love simply want to center an evening around a sweet wine, this well-balanced Icewine will help you seal the deal. It is made from grapes harvested frozen on the vine. They’re picked in the cold, crisp heart of the Canadian winter, but the result is a weighty, honeyed nectar that will warm your heart.
The wine offers a nice balance of lemon and tangerine acidity and sweet apricot, white peach and dried mango flavors. Although it is considered a dessert wine, it also makes a very nice choice with cheeses and other picnic foods, or try it with a light supper, perhaps seafood, and enjoy each other for dessert.
For more information, visit Inniskillin official website.
9. 2015 d’Arenberg The Love Grass Shiraz
Origin: McLaren Vale, Australia
Price: $20 for 750 ml.
This is a wine for lovers who love fun. It’s a big, bouncy Aussie Shiraz with loads of bright fruit and a fairly high percentage of alcohol. It’s one of d’Arenberg’s most popular wines, and for good reason. It delivers walloping flavor and intensity for a very fair price. Flavors and aromas of dark berries and black plum practically burst from the glass.
But what puts this wine on our list of the best wines for a romantic occasion, besides the love connection in its name, is what happens on the wine’s finish. Toward the back of the palate the wine evolves and something earthy, slightly musky and somewhat spicy emerges. It leaves the tongue tingling with the sort of flavor that might inspire a roll in the love grass.
For more information, visit Darenberg official website.
10. 2015 Erzsébet Pince Estate Dry Furmint
Origin: Tokaj, Hungary
Price: $24 for 750 ml.
This is a wine for lovers with a sense of adventure. Dry Furmint is a style that only recently started gaining popularity, and it is a style rarely seen in North America. If the romance of new discoveries is a trait you and your sweetheart share, then this is the white wine for your next romantic encounter.
Made from the principal grape used in the famed Tokaji dessert wines, it is treated to fermentation and aging in Hungarian oak. The result is a sophisticated yet mouth-filling white wine. On the nose the Erzsébet Furmit is a bouquet of wildflowers. On the palate, citrus and stone fruits mingle with a brightness that feels like sunshine to the tongue. Toward the back, a faintly savory, saline note teases the taste buds and makes the mouth salivate for the next sip.
For more information, click here.
11. 2017 Spier Chenin Blanc
Origin: Western Cape, South Africa
Varietal: Chenin Blanc
Price: $9 for 750 ml.
Sometimes, budget limits our gifting choices. If your desire is to give your love both wine and flowers but are handicapped by limited funds, this lovely bottle of South African Chenin Blanc provides an excellent alternative.
A delicate and very nicely made wine for the price, it offers floral notes that spring from the glass as though they’d been planted there. A bouquet of flowers in a bottle, it is a crisp, fruity and refreshing white at a very fair price and one suitable for celebrating a romantic occasion on a budget.
For more information, visit Spier official website.