What is a wine expert drinking this Valentine’s Day? We thought we’d ask. And who better to ask than Wes Narron, the chief wine ambassador at City Wine Tours, a group that leads walking wine tours through New York City’s SoHo and West Village neighborhoods (as well as neighborhoods in Boston).
Narron explained that the guides of the wine tours like to share “an insider’s perspective on how to buy wine,” so we asked him to do the same for us.
The first tip he gave is that consumers should always ask for a discount when buying a case of wine. “If you’re not asking for a discount when buying six to twelve bottles of wine, you’re not getting your money’s worth,” he said.
But which wine to buy to impress your date? It depends on what’s for dinner. We asked what we should be drinking with classic date-night meals, and Narron gave suggestions for most any price point.
And the most important tip of all? “You should know what the person you’re splitting the wine with likes to drink — and you should be drinking that.” He and his wife will be sipping a dry Alsatian white wine, Hugel Pinot Blanc Cuvée les Amours, this Valentine’s Day.
Oysters and chablis
Wes Narron: This classic combination works because of the soil in which the grapevines grow. Chablis is a region in Burgundy, France where the Kimmeridgean limestone soil is composed of fossilized oyster shells. Don’t be intimidated by ordering a wine from Burgundy. Remember, red Burgundy is pinot noir, white Burgundy is chardonnay. Chablis is basically a dry, white, unoaked chardonnay.
over $25: Christian Moreau Chablis Premier Cru Vaillon, Burgundy, France 2010: $35
under $25: Joel Gott Unoaked Chardonnay, Monterey, California: $16
Vegetable dishes and sauvignon blanc
WN: Sauvignon blanc is a perfect wine to pair with green vegetables, risotto or lightly fried/sautéed foods. Serving veggie tempura or mild creamy dishes? Get yourself a sauvignon blanc from the Marlborough region of New Zealand. New Zealand sauvignon blanc tends towards grassy, grapefruit flavors. The Cloudy Bay is one of the most sought-after wines, the quintessential balance of acidity and fresh fruit.
over $25: Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand: $30
under $25: Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc, also from Marlborough, New Zealand: $16
Sushi and champagne
WN: My girlfriend says sushi is the world’s sexiest food. She claims eating sushi is adventurous, delicious and makes her feel healthy, alive and passionate. Uh, I can be a clueless, never-listening male, but even I can pick up those clues: sexy, adventure, passion. We’ll be making sushi on February 14th/Date Night. Champagne is the ideal wine for sushi. Crisp, sharp bubbles that clean your palette and make any meal feel like a festive occasion. Another overlooked wine to serve with sushi: pinot noir!
over $25: Veuve Cliquot Rosé Champagne, France: $79
under $25: Gruet Rosé Sparkling Wine, New Mexico: $20
Molten chocolate cake and Brachetto d’Acqui
WN: A popular suggestion is to pair chocolate with cabernet sauvignon. Let me say, “Yuck!” Sure, if you enjoy dark, bittersweet, stone ground Mexican chocolate, cabernet sauvignon can be a good pairing. But can we just have something that tastes good? Valentine’s Day/Date Night isn’t the time for a lesson in being a connoisseur. There’s a reason you find molten chocolate cake on so many dessert menus. It’s always so decadent and yummy. Pair your chocolate dessert with something sweet. A good rule to follow: the dessert should be just a bit sweeter than the wine. Brachetto d’ Acqui is a slighty sweet, gently fizzy Italian red wine from the Piedmont region that shows flavors of strawberries and rose petals. Legend has it that Julius Caesar and Marc Antony presented Cleopatra with several gourds of Brachetto d’Acqui as a way of inflaming her passion. Here’s hoping your seductive powers are just as successful.
over $25: Braida Brachetto d’Acqui, Piedmont, Italy: $28
under $25: Banfi Rosa Regale Brachetto d’Acqui, Piedmont, Italy: $20
Featured photo: Flickr/tobiastoft