Valentine’s Day Wines Under $25 (for Self-Seduction)

Valentine’s Day Wines Under $25 (for Self-Seduction)

Valentine’s Day is here, and whether you will be with your loved one or plan to seduce yourself, you’ve got to have appropriate juice on hand. Your local wine store is sure to have these moderately-priced picks.
valentine's day wines
A visit to Williams-Sonoma’s San Francisco headquarters the other week involved the perfect exercise in finding moderately priced yet maximally alluring V-Day-ready bottles. In preparation for a presentation I was giving to WS staff, Williams Sonoma’s Director of Culinary Amanda Haas asked me to join her at local supermarket and select seven Valentines Day-worthy wines – all under $25 – in under 20 minutes. We were all pleased with how these Valentine’s Day wines turned out, and here they are for you:

Roederer Estate Brut NV ($19-$22) – A perennial overachiever, owned by the same parent company that makes Cristal.

St. Supéry Oak-Free Chardonnay 2015 ($20-$25) – A stunner with oysters, which are of course known to be a potent aphrodisiac. Medium bodied and lemony bright.

Landmark Vineyards Overlook Pinot Noir 2014 ($20-$25) –  I call Pinot the Juicy Berry Kiss and this version is no exception, with its strawberry-and-flowers perfume, medium body, and crisp acidity.

Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc + Viognier White Blend 2015 ($11-$15) – A sexy duality: smells sweet, tastes dry. A secret love of wine pros. Viognier puts you in the mood for romance.

Minuty M Rosé Cotes de Provence 2015 ($10-$15) – Gorgeous raspberry fruit with a lemony lift. And its bottle is curved like Sophia Lauren.

Campo Viejo Rioja Gran Reserva 2010 ($20-$25) – If a smooth, plummy Spanish red weren’t sexy enough, the gold fishnet adorning the bottle creates glamour and intrigue.

Prieuré d’ Arche Sauternes 2008 ($15-$20) – For drizzling on your pancakes, then on your lover.

For more on affordable wine alternatives and the best wines to bring to a date or party, check out my latest book, How to Drink Like a Billionaire.  Leave an Amazon review in the month of February (and notify and we will send you some Oldman schwag!

Buzz Management

“Don’t you get drunk?” Everyone asks this when they discover that I am judging a wine event. And they asked it with conviction after hearing that I was recently required to slurp hundreds of wines for the Bordeaux Wine Bureau’s 2007 “100 Top Bordeaux under $25” competition. (The results of the competition are available here.)

Friends imagine such an event to be an orgiastic feast of Hefnerian proportions: If one bottle gives pleasure, hundreds must yield sensual nirvana. The truth, however, is that the experience was more like taking the SATs — well, the SATs with a buzz.

First, the other judges and I were separated like test-takers, each situated safely out of copying distance of one another. Then there was a sort of proctor who had flown from Bordeaux to New York just to monitor the proceedings.  During the tasting, the weight of her displeased, jet-lagged gaze was enough to instill a chill in our glasses. Excusez-moi: Was I swirling satisfactorily? Did my slurps suffice? Would she confiscate my scorecard and make me put my head down?

This tense mood had a way of manifesting itself on the tablecloths.  Octopusing our arms over a sea of glassware, we did our share of spilling and staining.  At one point, my elbow inadvertently sent my overflowing spit bucket aloft, creating a spill that even ExxonMobil wouldn’t have wanted to clean. Tablecloths ended up looking like the tunic of a defeated gladiator.

Like the SATs, our marathon tasting required constant focus on a torrent of information. In this case, the information, if not carefully managed, could get you tanked. So you spit. You spit for survival. After each wine, you let loose into the shiny bucket at your side. For me it wasn’t pretty. My chin-coating projections displayed not the crisp, laser-line efficiency of my fellow judges but something Danny Bonaduce would muster after chugging a fifth of Smirnoff.

Inelegant expectorating notwithstanding, spitting works. After two days of intensive tasting, hocking a good one — along with intermittent nibbles of bread, washes of water, and occasional leg stretches — kept the palate surprisingly operational. Such buzz management makes wine competitions a breeze, even after your 200th glass.

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