With Valentine's Day just around the corner, it's important for would-be Romeos and Juliets to realize their beloved may not share a taste for the same pour. Women might prefer Champagne, or at least many Chicago wine retailers think so, while men are thought to prefer big, bold reds.That may be so, in large part. What matters, though, is the point made by Doug Jeffirs, wine director for Binny's Beverage Depot stores.
"The wine still has to be what you like and what your partner likes," Jeffirs said.
Champagne remains the romantic sip for many Americans, thanks to years of canny French promotions, high prices and lots of teeny-tiny bubbles.
Robert Owings of Vintages in Arlington Heights said men should buy women vintage Champagne. He said the man might want to invest the effort into finding that special pour because the bottle proves she is worth pursuing. Also give her a bottle that is nicely wrapped.
Joe Kafka of Chicago's Kafka Wine Co. thinks pink because rose Champagne is "the most whimsical and the most fun."
"Pink bubbles, what can be more romantic than that?" he said, noting pink is the color of hearts and roses and flowers. A rose that gets right to the point is called "Sex" and is made by L. Mawby, the winery located on Michigan's Leelanau Peninsula.
"It's a brut rose--very popular these days," Kafka said. Expect to pay around $17.
A taste for red
There are other choices out there besides bubbly, of course.
Owings suggests that women "go red" for their men. Buy a wine with "big, grippy tannins," he said.
"Be prepared to spend more than $12," he said. "If you feel uncomfortable making the choice, ask for advice. You are looking for a wine that needs to breathe. It's up to you to figure out how to spend your time while you wait."
For some, it might be the bottle label that does the trick. But do wines with names like "Sex" or the O'Brien Cellars red blend called "Seduction" or even Folie a Deux Winery's "Menage a Trois" rose really work in spurring romance?
"I think guys are always going to try it, I know I did," Jeffirs said, chuckling.
Customers, he said, come in asking for the gimmicky labels around now and the bottles "jump off the shelf."
Do-it-yourselfers can even order wine bottles with custom worded labels. Signature Wines in California offers a range of Valentine-themed labels adorned with red roses, candy hearts, chocolates and other romantic themes with prices averaging about $29, plus shipping, for two bottles (signaturewines.com). But Illinois residents need to act fast, by Wednesday, to ensure delivery by Feb. 14.
Avoid the cheesy
A bottle with a hot label or a name that's a double entendre is not so sexy, according to Laura Levy, co-executive producer of "Taste" on WMAQ-Ch.5, and executive producer of winepeeks.tv, a wine Web channel (winepeeks.com). But she recognizes such bottles can transmit a very clear signal or intent. What matters to her is the wine inside the bottle.
"The most seductive thing is a special wine you are sharing with someone else or someone is sharing with you. Also sexy to me is an aged wine, a wine that when you take a whiff of it has that kind of earthy smell," she said.
Bill Daley answers questions on wine, beer and spirits every Sunday in Q. Hear him on WBBM Newsradio 780 at 8:52 a.m., 11:52 a.m., 3:41 p.m., 6:21 p.m. and 10:22 p.m. Tuesdays and 7:52 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.