10 Perfect Wines for Valentine’s Day (or Any Romantic Occasion)

These wines are perfect for sparking the romance
Chateau Ducru Beaucalliou

Millesima

Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou is warm and rich.

Choosing a wine for a romantic evening can be a tricky thing. Do you go with the somewhat clichéd choice of a wine whose marketing spells it all out for you? Do you choose a tried and true favorite or just grab the most expensive bottle on the shelf because nothing says “I love you” like the outlay of cash? Well, according to the research of Dr. Max Lake, who was a noted Australian vintner as well as a researcher, the best bottles to choose for a romantic occasion might be those with specific flavors and aromas. Dr. Lake found that certain wine characteristics tend to replicate those of human pheromones, (which signal attraction in the brain). That’s right, if you choose correctly, a swirl of the wine in your glass just might serve as a form of foreplay. In general, Lake recommended looking for red wines with heavy, earthy notes like violets, leather, tobacco, black truffle, cedar and spice. For whites, you want ones that offer feral, sweaty notes — yes, sweat can taste delicious! — and those of citrus, white flowers, bread dough or freshly baked bread, brie cheese, petrol or chalk.  Still not sure what to look for? Here are 10 wines that should help you spark some romance.

NV Veuve Cliquot Rosé Champagne in the Cliquot Message Bottle
I’ve heard pink Champagne called “romance in a bottle.” This bottle offers everything that a rosé should, including sensory awakening citrus and floral notes. But not only has Veuve Cliquot managed to create a perfectly finessed bottle of bubbly, they’ve packed it for romance with the new Cliquot Message box. Now you can put your thoughts into poetry right on the  package. $69

2004 Perrier Jouet Belle Epoque Blanc de Blancs Champagne
If ever there were a wine that said, “Take me, I’m yours,” this would be it. But it would deliver the message in a husky whisper filled with delicate nuance. The famed Champagne house’s most rare wine, it offers a creamy texture. Aromas and flavor are of citrus, floral and vanilla with underlying musky pheromonal notes. It’s a serious investment and worth every penny. $295

2014 Raphael First Label Riesling
This wine wakes up the palate with floral notes, juicy pear and the perfect touch of grapefruit and lemon zest. It’s a pleasingly dry Riesling made with restraint, just the sort of wine perfect for pairing with a meal. Toward the back of the palate, it offers minerality, a hint of petrol and a pleasing note of musk.  $24

2012 La Follette Sangiacamo Chardonnay
If you never dreamed Chardonnay could serve as a form of foreplay, you need to try this wine. It’s sweaty, wild, sultry—all the things you should be on a night of seduction. It feels soft on the palate and leaves a lingering note of vanilla. If ever a wine were an aphrodisiac, this would be it. $40

2014 Flowers Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
Rather than giving a bouquet of flowers, this year give that special someone the whole bottle. Many say Pinot Noir is the most romantic wine and this selection is one of California’s finest. Violets, berries and damp earth dominate its aromas and flavors. The wine is beautifully balanced, offers velvety tannins and lingers long on the palate. $45

2013 Dievole Chianti Classico
This is the bottle for those who like a wine that’s intense but not overpowering. It offers sensual violet aromas and a parade of aphrodisiac notes on the tongue: tobacco, leather and lingering spice. Despite the intensity, its smooth tannins and good acidity make it surprisingly easy drinking. (And who doesn’t look sexy drinking Italian wine?) $20

2013 Boekenhoutskloof The Chocolate Block
If your style is something affordable but exotic, you should serve your sweetie a bottle of this red blend. So much more interesting than handing your lover a box of chocolates, sharing this South African blend of Syrah, Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsault and Viognier will have you both thinking sweet and spicy thoughts. This easy-to-drink red pairs nicely with dinner, but it will also work well with, as the name implies, rich, dark chocolate. $40

2012 CADE Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon
If just the thought of a heavy-hitting Napa Cabernet gets your heart racing, you’re going to love this wine. But unlike many full-bodied Cabs, this one offers the balance of acidity and a creaminess on the palate that make it incredibly approachable, almost easy-drinking. Licorice, spice and a bit of smoke offer a sexy note on the finish, like a lingering kiss. This is truly the kind of wine for a special night. $90

2012 Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou
If your date is a wine collector, this might be the bottle to seal the deal. A gorgeous Bordeaux made with great finesse, it positively caresses the palate. It offers musky black currant flavors with hints of cedar, smoke and a lingering earthiness that will make you long to link limbs and roll in a soft pile of leaves. $120

Taylor Fladgate 30 Year Old Tawny
For those who like to linger at the table, letting the electricity build, this is the perfect drink to wrap up the evening with a velvet bow. It’s silky, with a honeyed sweetness but a freshness of acidity to give the taste buds one final tingle. The wine lingers on the tongue with hints of toffee and chocolate. $95

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