Maybe this is the year we finally admit it: Spending Valentine’s Day in is so much better than hitting the town. Making a special meal or even Valentine’s Day dessert at home means you can avoid the crowds of people who behave like they’ve never eaten at a restaurant before, inflated prices for a so-so prix fixe menu and stressed-out wait staff, not to mention enjoy each other’s company in your finest sweatpants. Plus, opening a bottle of wine at home is so much more affordable than at a restaurant or wine bar, even if you spring for something really special. We call that a win-win-win.
When it comes to pairing wine for Valentine’s Day, try to match both the wine’s body and flavor. Red wine generally goes best with red meat, pork and rich chocolates and cheeses, while white wine matches with more delicate fish, chicken and pasta with white sauce. But if you prefer white wine and are serving steak, an assertive Chardonnay or older Riesling will still work. Similarly, go ahead and enjoy a nice mellow Pinot Noir or other low-tannin wine with chicken or fish, too. No matter what you’re serving, follow your taste buds. Even the most scientific match doesn’t work if you don’t care for a particular style. Cheers!
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Layer Cake Malbec
Have your cake and drink it too with Layer Cake. This medium-bodied Malbec has notes of chocolate, blackberries and cherry that pair perfectly with a nice chocolate mousse, a fruit and cheese platter, or barbecue (like they do in Argentina, where it’s made).
Côtes de Provence Rosé
Rosé just screams Valentine’s Day and would also pair perfectly with your Galentine’s Day virtual hang. This pale pink French rosé has a delicate rose, cherry, peach and strawberry taste that goes down easy. Try it with strawberries, fish or chicken dishes.
Stags’ Leap Napa Valley Viognier
With a vibrant, crisp body and notes of lemon, peach and honeysuckle, this aromatic wine will liven up your tastebuds. Try it with your favorite chicken dish, seafood or shrimp cocktail.
The Prisoner Cabernet Sauvignon
If you sometimes buy wine by the label, this one may have already caught your eye. With forest fruit, vanilla, ripe plum and hints of baking spice, pour this big-bodied bottle with an equally intense meal like filet mignon or prime rib.
Endless Crush Rosé
The name of this rosé seems tailor-made for the holiday, and the taste matches even better. This balanced, slightly acidic rosé is made with Pinot Noir grapes, so you’ll taste some watermelon, strawberries and a little grapefruit. It works well alongside pasta, creamy cheese and poultry.
RELATED: 16 Best Rosé Wines
Terroir Series Ambrosia Malbec
For a bottle that tastes like a splurge at an affordable price, try this single-vineyard Malbec. With hints of smoke, thyme, licorice and graphite, this complex bottle has enough minerality and lingering tannins to stand up to a charcuterie platter or steak dinner.
Segura Viudas Rosé
Bubbles just feel festive, and the pretty pink color of this rosé looks made for V-Day. With hints of currant, strawberry and cherry, this softly bubbly rosé Cava tastes great with seafood, pasta or with cherry cheesecake.
Clif Family Gewürztraminer
Trust us: This wine is much easier to drink than it is to pronounce. A traditionally German varietal, this version hails from Anderson Valley in California. With light lemon, honey and clove notes and a floral nose, this dry white goes great with hard cheeses, white pizza, or pasta.
Josh Cellars Reserve Bourbon Barrel Aged Cabernet Sauvignon
If you’re really pulling out all the stops this V-Day, pair it with a wine that can go the distance. With jammy forest fruit, hints of spice and smoke, this bourbon barrel-aged wine works well alongside any red meat, rich cream sauces or decadent chocolate desserts.
Dr. Loosen Riesling
The doctor is in when you crack open this true-to-style riesling. It’s vivacious and light-bodied with hints of peach, citrus and the slate-rich soil where its grapes grow. Try it to balance out spicy appetizers or alongside turkey or chicken mains.
Mi Sueño Napa Valley Syrah
Big, bold and earthy, this Napa Valley Syrah brings forest fruit, berries, vanilla and some peppery spice to your palate. Try it with a lamb or beef roast, pot pie or anything with gravy.
The Calling California Coast Chardonnay
Chardonnay fans, we’ve found your new fav. This oaked varietal brings notes of apple, pear and citrus with enough buttery character to complement bold cream sauces and special-occasion seafood like lobster or scallops. It’s also clean enough to scrub away the fat.
Gnarly Head Merlot
Let’s get real: Sometimes you need a super-affordable bottle to enjoy on the couch while watching your favorite TV show until Netflix asks if you’re still there. This classic Merlot will fit the bill, with a medium body and forest fruit notes that will cozy up to pizza and wings.
Imagery Pinot Noir
A balanced pinot noir like this one can pair with dishes that straddle the line between traditional red and white pairings, like chicken cacciatore or dijon salmon. You’ll taste forest fruit, strawberry jam and cherry notes in this bottle that’s more complex than the price point would suggest.
If you live alone or just don’t want to crack a whole 750ml bottle, order a box of these single-serve sparkling wines. Each beaker-shaped bottle holds one hefty pour of an effervescent sparkling wine. You’ll taste elderflower and lemon and it pairs perfectly with cheese, pasta, pizza — pretty much whatever you nosh with it.
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