Eleventh Hour Valentine's Day Wines


Retailers report, and empirical evidence demonstrates, that Valentine's Day can be one of the busiest holidays for the wine and spirits business. Wine menu planning is a fun exercise but sometimes the rigors of workaday reality get in the way of our good time. And when it comes to wine, price doesn’t need to indicate how much you care. Wine is one of very few consumer categories where high dollar amounts don’t always equal a better product. In this spirit, the web's top wine writers are here to make Valentine's Day a bit easier and keep you on budget. All of the recommended wines are under twenty-five dollars.

Aimery Crémant de Limoux 1531 Brut Rose NV

Bubbles are required for Valentine's Day. But after years of splurging on Champagne, I've learned to adjust my approach. Every year we'd open the bottle then switch to a wine that paired with our meal. And I would wish I'd saved the Champagne. Now I choose a Crémant because a bottle that comes in under $25 allows us not to worry about finishing the bottle. A bottle I buy frequently in NV Aimery Crémant de Limoux 1531 Brut Rose. Delicate red fruit, a bit of orange peel, a touch of minerality and acidity makes it a delightful appertiv with enough body to pair with most desserts. At around $17, it adds gives your holiday a splash of pink and a whole lot of sparkle.

Alissa Leenher

Arrogant Frog Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot Ribet Red 2015

We are sitting in La Table de Franck Putelat, a restaurant in Carcassonne tasting his wines. "Why Arrogant Frog?" I ask Owner-Winermaker Jean-Claude Mas, who replies, conspiratorially: "Because I'm Arrogant, and I'm French."  This is his "fun" wine, he tells me, one that doesn't have to follow any rules. With his rakish tussled hair, and amused visage, you'd think him a flirt. But just prior he'd explained the label for his Astélia wines -- named for his daughters Astrid, Elisa and Apolline, whose good looks he credits to his wife. He's a romantic at heart, which is why he makes the perfect Valentine's Day under-$25 wine. Rich and bright, with deep lush berry tones, you'd think you were drinking a $50 New World Red. But this 55% Cabernet Sauvignon 45% Merlot blend is IGP Pays D'Oc, from the Mediterranean region of Languedoc in the South of France. An outstanding value at under $10.00 per 750 ml bottle.

Amy Corron Power
Another Wine Blog

Caparra & Siciliani Solagi Ciro Rosso Classico 2013

Valentine's Day is here and there are plenty of wines to consider that can be enjoyed under $25. I'm one to always venture off the beaten path and Italy is a country with plenty of value. Many of the lesser discovered wine regions of Italy provide plenty of options when it comes to value. My Valentine pick this year is the 2013 Caparra & Siciliani Solagi Ciro Rosso Classico. This wine hails from the Calabria region off the tip of the Italian boot. It's made 100% of the gaglioppo grape, indigenous to this region. Ruby red with a tinge of orange around the rim and very aromatic. This is a medium to full bodied full of dried cherries with good acidity and refined tannins.  

Jennifer Martin
Vino Travels

Gloria Ferrer Brut NV

For this Valentine's Day, I recommend Gloria Ferrer's Brut NV Sparkling Wine from Sonoma, Ca. With a street price below $20/bottle, this is a tremendous value in sparkling wine that performs like bottles at much higher prices. Made in the champenoise method, Gloria Ferrer Brut NV is crafted primarily from pinot noir grapes with a small (under 10%) complement of chardonnay grapes. The floral and fruity nose invites you in, but the creamy mouthfeel is decadent and the flavor palette offers ripe pear with fresh apple, secondary notes of crème brûlée and freshly baked bread. For the last ten years, this high-scoring wine continues to be incredibly consistent at providing a great value that is a perfect treat to share with your loved one on your most special days together and every day you have together.

Jim vanBergen
Jvb uncorked

Herdade do Esporão Vinho Regional Alentejano Monte Velho 2015
Valentine’s Day food and drinks can get expensive. I say: Save your money for theatre tickets or something sexy for your significant other. If you’re staying in, you can drink delicious wine without spending much — that’s where Herdade do Esporão comes in. This producer, from the Portuguese region Alentejo, produces a line of wines called Montel Velho, and they retail for about $10. For this price, they are some of the most delicious and complex wines I can find for sale in the U.S. The 2015 red (a blend of Aragonez, Trincadeira, Touriga Nacional and Syrah) is a fleshy and fresh red with juicy black fruit mixed with some herbal, vanilla, coffee and mineral elements. It would pair wonderfully with a nice cut of red meat, but drinks well on its own, too.

Isaac James Baker
Terroirist; Reading, Writing & Wine

Jean-Paul Brun's Crémant de Bourgogne Charme Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs

For me, all holidays deserve bubbles and should you have a special someone on Valentine’s Day, what better way to toast to the future than with a glass of bubbles.  I have been on a mission to find sparklers that deliver what I expect in a Champagne, but at a price point that is more affordable for everyday drinking. That’s where the Jean-Paul Brun's Crémant de Bourgogne Charme Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs comes into play. This wine comes from southern Burgundy from Carnay, a region known for its stony vineyards and the wine is made from 60-year-old organic grapes. You will taste apples and apricots, almonds and pear, lemon curd and brioche – along with a perfect minerality.  

Melanie Ofenloch

Jean Paul Brun FRV100

Valentine's Day with your special someone calls for something celebratory and unique; something out of the ordinary. Bubbles are always welcome, but you're on a budget and you don't want to be too predictable. A bottle of FRV100 by Jean Paul Brun hits all your requirements: Sparkling - Yes. Different - sparkling Gamay rosé? Yes! Wallet friendly - Yes! Even the name is fun (sound out the name in French and you pronounce "effervescent"). As a bonus, the grapes were organically farmed and naturally vinified by the ancestrale method. The wine is lightly sparkling, off-dry and pure fun. It will pair better with a fruit or cream based pastry than with chocolates, but you wanted something different anyway. So, pick up the flowers, a couple of handmade pastries, a bottle of FRV100 and you're all set!

Jeff Burrows
Food Wine Click

Malene Rosé Central Coast California 2016

Truth be told, Valentine's Day is not a favorite holiday for this very single wine lover. However, when I stumbled across the 2016 Malene Rosé, Central Coast, California (SRP $22), I was immediately smitten with both the story and the wine. If you want to taste this wine before buying, Malene does not have a traditional tasting room, but rather a cute and fun 1969 Airstream Overlander trailer, which means pop-up tastings can take place anywhere, including its regular parking spot beside Chamisal Vineyards in San Luis Obispo, California. Malene's sole purpose is to craft a direct-press, Provençal-style rosé from a blend of grapes - grenache, cinsault, vermentino (rolle), mourvèdre, and counoise - and ferment and age the wine using a blend of vessels, including stainless steel, oak puncheons, and a French oak foudre. The barely there, salmon-pink color of this rosé comes from immediate whole-cluster pressing of 80% of the juice off the skins, while the other 20% sees 24 hours of skin contact. Both floral and red berry aromatics lead to a wine on the palate that explodes with raspberry, strawberry, and pink grapefruit fruitiness, while accompanied by a creaminess from six months of sur lie aging. Whether it be Valentine's Day or any day of the year, the Malene Rosé will captivate your heart and your senses.

​Elizabeth Smith
Traveling Wine Chick

Massimago Valpolicella DOC 2016

A Valentine’s Day celebration with the one you love deserves a wine rich in perfume evoking old memories, yet vibrant, with freshness, reminding us that the best is yet to come with our romance; and so I recommend the 2016 Massimago Valpolicella DOC, made near the classic city of love - Verona and the story of Romeo and Juliet. Massimago was started in 2003 by one of the up-and-coming younger generation of Valpolicella, Camilla Rossi Chauvenet, and I have had the pleasure of visiting her fairytale estate. It was fantastic to see her again last October, this time in New York City, and to learn that her husband proposed to her during their first trip to the Big Apple. The 2016 Massimago Valpolicella, retailing around $20, is a dry, light-bodied yet generous wine with red cherries and rose petals, with a velvety texture and hints of wild strawberry and sage on the bright finish. A light red wine that can even win over the most rugged of hearts, such as Ernest Hemingway who was known to favor Valpolicella as his wine of choice. Whether it is with a new or old partnership, Valpolicella fills lovers’ heads with beautiful dreams, and the Massimago version especially can show how something old can become excitingly new again.

Cathrine Todd
Dame Wine

Pascal Berthier Esprit de Séduction 2016
Nothing says “Love” for Valentine’s Day quite like…well the word “Love”, or as translated in French, “Amour”.  And nothing says “Amour” better than the Beaujolais Cru of Saint-Amour. Designated as a Cru in 1946, Saint-Amour is the most northerly and the second smallest of the Beaujolais crus. Of course, it is considered the most romantic of the Beaujolais wines. So much so that 20 to 25 percent of Saint-Amour sales occur in February. You might even find a heart on the label of a bottle of Saint-Amour. Fortunately, the wines of Saint-Amour are no mere Valentine’s Day contrivance to be foist upon incurable romantics who know nothing of wine. They are seriously good wines. For example, the 2016 Pascal Berthier "Esprit de Séduction" is very food friendly wine that pours ruby red with seductive ripe strawberry, red cherry liqueur, and delicate spice aromas accented by a bouquet of floral aromas and a hint of damp earth. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied and fresh with velvety tannins and flirty, fruit-forward flavors of raspberry, tart red cherries, red cherry liqueur, and spice. And speaking of the spirit of seduction, pair this wine with Chef Jésus Hurtado's Grilled Oysters with Croquant Vegetables. It’s fun dish you can make with your Valentine!  And for dessert, pair it with a “Little Black Cake. Love will surely be in the air!  SRP - $15  

Martin Redmond

Pedroncelli Four Grapes Vintage Port 2012

No Valentine's Day dinner is complete without a sweet tooth-satisfying dessert. As Cupid shoots his arrows of love into the night, you should be uncorking Pedroncelli’s Four Grapes 2012 Vintage Port (SRP $20, 500ML). The winery has produced more than twenty vintages of this port-styled wine,and you know what they say: practice makes perfect. In a few words, it is lip-smacking delicious. The wine is made from four traditional Portuguese grape varieties, all sourced from Pedroncelli’s estate-vineyard, in Sonoma County’s Dry Creek Valley. The grapes are harvested as a field-blend, and aged in small seasoned oak barrels for four years. The 2012 vintage is the current release. I recommend serving it at cool room temperature in small cordial glasses. You will discover aromas and flavors of dark rich berries and sweet black plum, alongside warm baking spice and notes of dark chocolate bark. The palate is richly textured, and the wine strikes a fine balance between fruit, acidity, sweetness, and alcohol. Enjoy this wine with a decadent chocolate dessert like brownies or a rich and moist slice of chocolate cake. It is also an excellent after dinner sipper all by itself. Whatever you choose, have a wonderful Valentine’s Day, friends!

Dezel Quillen
My Vine Spot

Quivivra Petite Sirah Dry Creek Valley California 2013

Valentine's Day is unquestionably a special occasion for the wine lover. Unlike Thanksgiving table, where you are guaranteed to have family who would appreciate two buck chuck a lot more than Chateau Latour, and you need to think about a smorgasbord of dishes ready to clash with whatever wine you will decide on, Valentine's Day is different. There are only you and your significant other who should be pleased, and the dinner menu is a lot easier to control. Besides, you want to make it a sensual experience before, during and after the dinner (yep). Now, this is not an easy choice we have to make here, as we only have $25 to work with, instead of going traditional "sky is the limit" way. Not that $25 limit makes it impossible, but it is a lot more challenging. Here is my choice  - 2013 Quivivra Petite Sirah Dry Creek Valley, California. This wine offers an ultimate pleasure - a perfect balance. Fresh berries on the nose, well restrained, and beautiful berries wrapped in the dark chocolate on the palate. Velvety, silky smooth, layered, with perfect balance of tannins, fruit and acidity. This wine would work equally well with a steak and a chocolate dessert, and deliver lots of sensual pleasure - exactly what we are looking for. And - all of it - for about $20, truly a great value. Happy Valentine's Day!

Anatoli Levine

Secret Squirrel Bordeaux Blend 2014

Whether you have a special someone or simply love life, Valentine’s Day calls for an excellent wine. But choosing just one is next to impossible, let alone one that costs less than $25. Thankfully, Secret Squirrel from Washington state offers a robust Bordeaux blend at that price point. It’s hard not to love Secret Squirrel, a fun and delicious project from Corliss Estates in Walla Walla. First, the wine drinks like a more expensive bottle. The 2014 red blend features Cabernet Sauvignon (43%), Merlot (20%), Cabernet Franc (15%), Petit Verdot (13%) and Malbec (9%). This is a rich, well-structured wine, particularly for the price. Second, there’s that Secret Squirrel label! From an image of a squirrel in a red mask on the front, to this description on the back, you will smile.
“Taste me. Once you taste me, you’ll want to squirrel me away. You see, I’m not to be circulated among your average party guests. You know, the ones content to fill their glass to the rim with whatever’s within arms reach. No, I’m the one you discreetly hide behind the espresso machine and snag for those like-minded associates who love to share a good secret.”
Enjoy a bottle with a friend — or if you want to be a secret Valentine, what better way than with Secret Squirrel?

Margot Sinclair Savell
Write for Wine – It’s Wine O’Clock Somewhere!

Woven Wineworks Woven White Sparkling Cuvée 2015

Deciding to choose a Valentine's Day wine based on its relevant label or festive color does not mean there's a need to sacrifice the quality of the wine that's inside that picture-perfect bottle.  Browsing through the Rosé section of a local wine shop will undoubtedly unveil an abundance of pink-hued, perfectly palatable wines under $25 dollars, but when in search of a celebratory wine that will truly woo a special Valentine's palate and heart, there's nothing better than a bottle of Woven Wineworks 2015 Woven White Sparkling Cuvée.  This effervescent, tiny bubbled blend of Chardonnay, Riesling and Pinot Gris (with its honey and white flower notes highlighted by solid acidity and a rounded lush mouthfeel), pairs perfectly with a big bowl of buttery popcorn -  a necessary nibble when cuddling up on the couch with your number one while honing in on a good movie.  But the story behind the bottle's label that boasts a beautiful vintage wedding photo, makes this wine extra special.  The photo featured on the label is of the mother and father of Woven Wineworks co-founder and vine to glass extraordinaire, Elaina Spring, and they are toasting their special day with Champagne-filled glasses.  Woven Wineworks produces a small collection of exceptional wines crafted from extraordinary fruit grown on the family farm in Oregon's famed Willamette Valley. The family believes memorable wine is made with passion and love, and every bottle features a different family photo from the past that holds and shares a story in every glass. The Sparkling Cuvée's story is all about lasting love, making it the ultimate wine for Valentine's Day. To watch a video interview with Elaina Spring, and to find out how Woven Wineworks became Oregon's first Craft Certified winery, visit therealwinejulia.com.

Julia Crowley
The Real Wine Julia

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