There are many things that can make a man cringe: root canals, colonoscopies, marriage proposals.
Then there is Valentine's Day, the occasion when a man really wants to hide but knows someone dear to him is expecting a romantic gesture. This is not a man’s comfort zone.
Most men will default to the usual gift: an effortless but very expensive, cringe-worthy dinner out. Your restaurant thanks you. But the adventurous will create something more original. Maybe a handmade greeting card, a walk in the park or — egad — an engagement ring.
Don't do anything rash. Take it from us, keeping Valentine's Day simple has been just as satisfying to our spouses once you get past the courtship. Some flowers, a card or a home-cooked dinner at home works fine. But no matter how simple the celebration, we've always have celebrated Valentine's Day with wine — Champagne to start and a nice red over a hearty meal.
Champagne is a sensory experience. Its effervescence tingles the palate and leaves a notion that you are bathing in luxury. A rosé Champagne takes it up a notch. A French rosé Champagne puts you on a pedestal. And you want to be on that pedestal, right?
Moet & Chandon has a nice package: a full bottle of its Imperial Rosé ($50) in an attractive box designed just for Valentine’s Day. If price is an issue, you can get the same packaging for a split (180 milliliters) for just $15. That would give you each a glass of special wine.
There are other French rosé Champagnes we like: Nicolas Feuillatte, Veuve-Cliquot, Piper-Heidsieck, for example. Or, if you want a still rosé to get things started, here are two we just love:
Kim Crawford New Zealand Rosé 2017 ($17). From one of the best-selling producers of New Zealand wines in the U.S., this juicy rosé shows off watermelon and strawberry notes. An ideal match to Valentine’s Day.
Guigal Cotes du Rhone Rosé 2016 ($15). One of our favorite rosés year after year, the Guigal is a blend of grenache, cinsault and syrah. It's big in style with generous raspberry and citrus flavors, refreshing acidity and long finish. You'll love this wine whether it's warm or cold outside.
If you are making dinner at home, set the mood with champagne or a glass of rosé while you prepare dinner. If the night’s theme is French cuisine, here is a red and white wine to complement any luxurious French meal:
Joseph Drouhin Gevrey Chambertain 2014 ($70). A very high quality village Burgundy from the 2014 vintage, which was severely affected by hail in some areas of the region. This Gevrey is already drinking well with medium ripe cherry notes accented by spicy and intriguing earthy elements.
Domaine Vacheron Sancerre 2013 ($35). Made by one of Sancerre's most respected producers, this sauvignon blanc is simply stunning. The pure fruit character and mineral notes takes what is usually a simple, light-bodied wine to a new stratosphere with intense, rich and long-lasting flavors. The yields from old vines are low and only natural yeast is used. The farming here is resolutely biodynamic. Worth every penny.
Are you putting steak on the grill? Here are a few luxurious cabernet sauvignons from California to consider:
Robert Mondavi Winery Napa Valley Maestro 2014 ($50). The late Robert Mondavi made some of the most exceptional cabernet in Napa Valley. His wine today represents the standards he set for Napa Valley a long time ago. This version is a blend of cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, merlot and petit verdot. Winemaker Joe Harden has produced a delicious yet serious wine with dark berry, cassis flavors with hints of mocha and cinnamon. Fine tannins.
St. Supery Napa Valley Dollarhide Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 ($80). This Napa Valley property has been killing it for the last several years with all of its wines. We like this single-vineyard cab for its depth and character. Ripe blackberry and plum flavors with hints of mocha, vanilla and licorice. Viscous and long in the finish, it's destined to improve with age. We also like the 2014 Elu, a Bordeaux blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, malbec, petit verdot and cabernet franc.
Beaulieu Vineyards Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 ($33). We enjoyed this opulent and richly textured cabernet sauvignon from a venerable producer. Expressive dark berry and plum notes are accented by broad nuances of caramel and cinnamon that come from the 15 months the wine spends in oak. Delicious wine now, but one that can age.
Are you planning a romantic Italian dinner? Nothing says love better than a hearty bowl of pasta, some Frank Sinatra music, candles and a luxurious bottle of Italian wine. Here are some gems guaranteed to impress:
Tommasi Casisano Brunello di Montalcino 2012 ($60). If you are planning a dinner of Italian pasta or even a steak, there is nothing more luxurious and romantic than brundello di montalcino. This full-bodied version is aged in Slavonian oak casks for three years and thus has a round but complex profile. Crank up the music!
Marchesi di Gresy Martinenga Barbaresco 2013 ($50). Classic in style, this nebbiolo star exhibits aromatic plum and black cherry notes, followed by fresh dark fruit flavors, firm tannins and long finish. The producer’s 2015 Martinenga Nebbiolo ($22) is also an enjoyable drink — not as complex but certainly delicious with young fruit character.
Paolo Manzone Barolo Serralunga d’Alba 2013 ($60). Approachable in its youth yet destined for years of greatness, this sturdy barolo has a floral nose, firm yet fine tannins, red cherry flavors with a dash of forest floor.