Valentine’s Day—people either love it or hate it. Relationships are hard, whether you’re in one or out of one, and February 14th puts the pressure on. Who knows, maybe the pressure might even inspire you to drink. Whether the most romantic holiday of the year gives you butterflies or if you think it’s a Hallmark holiday made up to sell chocolates—we’ve compiled a list of wines to drink this V-Day wherever you fall on the relationship spectrum.
Single and Loving It: Maybe you’re looking for The One and maybe you’re not, but either way, you don’t have to share your wine. You can do whatever you want, even admit that you like White Zinfandel, which luckily for you, is back in vogue. Napa’s old vine Zins, like those planted in 1937 at Robert Biale Vineyards, are making some totally quaffable wines like the ever-popular Black Chicken.
Wine4Food recommends: OZV Old Vine Zinfandel
Recent Breakup: Breakups suck. Whether you’re feeling relieved or regretful, everyone would understand if you just wanted to stick a straw straight into the bottle right now. Self-care needs to be the priority, so indulge with a proper Netflix binge (ok, this may not be the night to watch Bird Box), your favorite Chinese takeout, a pint of Ben and Jerry’s, and a really nice bottle of wine just for you. With no one to impress, the choice between red and white is yours, but pinot noir is nicknamed the heartbreak grape for its vulnerability to vineyard disasters. Russian River Valley’s La Foulette North Coast Pinot Noir is fruity, crisp, and under $20.
Wine4Food recommends: Lake Sonoma Pinot Noir
Galentine’s: With a new wave of feminism sweeping the nation, there’s no better time to celebrate ‘ovaries before brovaries’. Inspired by an episode of Parks and Recreation, the night before Valentine’s Day has become a day for ladies celebrating ladies. Forget lamenting being single and enjoy some always needed girl time. Gather your gaggle of girlfriends, bust out the cheese board, and craft a fun, bubbly drink like a Kir Royale: crème de cassis and sparkling wine like an affordable cava, garnished with a blackberry.
Wine4Food recommends: Fabiano Prosecco
It’s Complicated: “Don’t overthink it, just drink it” may well be the motto to employ if this is your relationship status. This one foot in and one foot out relationship hokey pokey sounds more like purgatory than something to declare on Facebook. If your relationship is a dysfunctional one but you mask it by calling it ‘friends with benefits’ or ‘neither one of us want anything serious,’ do yourself a favor and get two bottles. We like the Absolution Rose from Colorado-based Purgatory Cellars, who ages the wine in huge Georgian-style amphorae.
Wine4Food recommends: Castello delle Regine Rose delle Regine
Divorced: Once you shared everything and you thought it would last forever. Now, the ink has dried on your divorce papers and you’ve gone through the hell of sorting out the gory details. It’s time to celebrate, even if you don’t feel like it. Skip the champagne (and the skull-splitting headaches the day after) and get yourself a nice Brunello di Montalcino. Since your lawyer just walked away with your retirement fund, you may be tempted to go for cheap, boxed stuff, but trust us—you want a wine that needs a little time to open up and reveal itself—much like yourself. These wines are made exclusively with Sangiovese grapes but reveal layers of flavor—try the Altesino.
Wine4Food recommends: Tassi Brunello di Montalcino
Tinder: If endless first dates and hook-ups are your style, read on. You’ll be wanting to toe the line between sophisticated enough to impress when you order and affordable, because let’s face it, dating can really add up. Viognier not only is French and sounds fancy but has a light floral or citrus taste that’s neutral territory when meeting for the first time. Domaine Triennes Saint Fleur retails for about $15 and goes well with light meals.
New Relationship: So you’ve found someone worth sharing the bottle with! Maybe you’re cooking dinner for that special someone and you want something that compliments the food as well as your other half does you. Malbecs are known for being deep and velvety and there are number of affordable Argentinean labels, like Los Altos, for under $15 (you know, in case you want to open that second bottle).
Wine4Food recommends: La Calera Malbec
Proposal: The ring, a romantic setting, the perfect words—popping the big question is one of life’s milestones. (It’s also super nerve-wracking, so you’re going to need a drink.) Celebrate by sabering open a bottle of sparkling rosé, like the aptly named Collalbrigo Te Amo Rosé. Collalbrigo is one of Veneto’s top Prosecco producers since the 1960s and at just $15 a bottle, it won’t hurt your wallet like the cost of your upcoming wedding.
Wine4Food recommends: Castello delle Regine Brut Rosé
Committed: You’ve been together long enough that you go together like a cork and a wine key. Maybe its time to spice things up on date night. Why not find a local wine region (seriously, you can make wine anywhere—almost every state has some winery that does tours) and visit a winery for Valentine’s Day? Take home a few bottles and enjoy it and the memories of your visit the next time date night rolls around.
Big Anniversary: Obvi, for a big occasion like a milestone anniversary, you’ll want to get a nice bottle with some age on it—something that’s matured as beautifully as your love. If the year you met was a good year, go with that, and buy two—one to drink now and one to cellar for the next big anniversary. If you can afford it, try one of the Grand Crus from the Bordeaux region of France.
Wine4Food recommends: Chateau Laffitte Carcasset Saint-Estephe
Rebecca Treon is a Denver-based freelance food, travel, and lifestyles writer who has written for publications like 5280, DiningOut, American Bungalow, Reign, Denver Hotel, The Coastal Table, the Huffington Post, Tasting Table, Food 52, Time Out, BBC Travel, Livability, The Cape Cod Travel Guide, Edible Cape Cod, Edible Denver, Edible Lower Alabama, Alabama Journey, The Denver Post, and DRAFT magazine. She is the proud mother of two tiny globetrotters.