As love is in the air, this week – I thought it would be appropriate to share my views on the romance side of wine! When you think about it, wine is 100% romantic. Even the words used about wine such as intoxicating and passion, or sipping a spicy, silky, broody red are love related.
Over the decades, in music, films, religions etc. wine is always linked somehow to love stories, poems or is there in some guise alongside romance.
There is something about the nature of wine aesthetically, with its curved glasses, dark red appearance and fruity taste. It is usually enjoyed slowly and with poise which adds to the sensuality of the experience. I can appreciate why wine might be seen as the elixir of lovers.
I really liked this quote from a Lisa and John Shaw of Alma Sol Winery in California, USA and thought it a good ‘fit’ for this piece – “Wine is the ultimate expression of love: It takes respect, passion, and creativity to shepherd it carefully from vine to bottle…and the sharing of it with someone you love is a ritualistic, intimate, special experience. “
In this post I want to examine why wine is considered the drink of romance and will outline 7 of my reasons why I think it is. But first I want to briefly refer to the mystique of wine and why we shouldn’t strive to ‘blind it with science’.
The Mystique of Wine
Fine wines by their nature are mysterious, unpredictable and maybe even transcendent. Many scientists want to tie-down the uncertainties about wine and a lot of mass-market producers do in fact shape a wine to fit a particular flavour profile.
For me, I embrace the many uncertainties such as the aging journey of a fine wine and its ultimate expression of ‘place’ (terroir). In his recent article, What’s the Big Deal with Burgundy and its Wine, Donal Morris briefly talks about the terroirs of Burgundy (it’s well worth the read).
It is because of this mystique, I feel that every aspect of wine raises questions, which can only be answered with more questions or at best – guesses. I mean, there will be good indicators but who can guarantee the quality and flavours of a red wine aged for 10 years? To me, tasting such wines brings a fantastic sense of excitement.
I love the passion of the grape grower knowing every inch of the soil in the vineyard, the style and rationale of the wine maker and the culture of the producers/owners family. These elements together with the grape varietals are the real essence of wine – the romance.
The wines we stock in Green Acres reflect this. They are not of a formulaic nature. For over 25 years we have been travelling around the globe establishing relationships with wine growers/makers and producers. We are alive to the nuances of their various environments and vintages. We understand the producers philosophy and even still – the wines can be unpredictable but the style will be consistent.
Compare it to music tastes. Which do you prefer, a stereotyped tune rolled out for mass consumption or a singer-songwriter’s inspiration delivered from the heart? I know which one I’d prefer.
By embracing wine’s mystique, I am not saying that we shouldn’t try to understand wine as much as possible. In fact, that in itself is a fascinating science and should be used to raise the bar – quality wise, whenever and wherever possible.
Wine as the Elixir of Lovers
OK, so now that I have got that off my chest – let’s look at why I think wine is considered the drink of romance.
Wine is Beautiful – be it in a shaped bottle or curved glass, wine always looks beautiful and classy. Just imagine a bottle in a hamper surrounded by chocolates and/or flowers and you get the picture.
Wine is Sweet – any colour wine can leave a pleasant feeling on the palate. Notes of fresh fruit and the warmth of alcohol can get our romantic side to blossom.
Wine Names are Romantic – say these words aloud in a franglais accent: Pinot Noir, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc. Even better if you can explain a little story behind the wines (read the back label).
Wine has Love Hormones – scientists have found that the same feelings that oxytocin gives us are the same feelings we get from drinking wine!
Wine is a Great Food Partner – a well known fact is that wine and food are the perfect partners – whatever meal you are served there will be a wine to suit the food and the occasion.
Wine is Good for the Heart – when taken in moderation, the antioxidants in the skins of red grapes can be good for the heart and your skin tone.
Wine is an Aphrodisiac – when paired with seafood (e.g. oysters). Aromas can trigger pheromones that pass messages to the brain that can trigger certain emotions and moods.
Wine and St. Valentine’s Day
So, you’ve scored major points by booking a romantic surprise meal for two in Green Acres on the 14th – well done. The menu will be fixed so no worries there and so is the price so sufficient funds can be carried. The only thing left to do is to – choose the wine.
If you’ve read my post to this point I think you’ll agree with me that all wine is romantic. The trouble is that with the vast array of wine types, regions, grape varieties and jargon this choice can be a daunting task. For some, a bottle label that has the word ‘love’ or something romantic on it may suit but believe me when I say – these labels are more to do with marketing (sorry Jim) than the content.
Here is my advice, if you are in the above situation –
- Start with bubbles (we include a glass with our St Valentine’s Weekend offer so no panic)
- If you don’t know what your partner likes, ask them. If they ask you to choose, continue to c)
- Pick your food first
- Ask the server (sommelier) – they are there to help. Just whisper them a price range.
- Buy the bottle – you’ll know exactly how much booze you have consumed
- Check the label to see that it’s the one you ordered and have a little smell and sip (don’t fret about this – all you’re doing is checking if it is bad e.g. smells like rotten eggs.
- Don’t be afraid to play it safe with a wine you know
- Don’t be afraid to be adventurous – trust the server to match the food and your price.
My advice to you is that the best course of action is to think about what wines your partner really likes. If two people are enjoying themselves, any bottle of wine will amplify the feeling. If the wine makes the difference between a good night and a great one regardless of its price or origin – well what can be more romantic than that?
Staying in on St Valentine’s Night
You might have invited some friends around to your house for a light meal or nibbles and wine, so here are some general wine pairings that may help you.
Camembert Cheese – try a glass of Champagne or a dry white such as Chablis.
Chocolate – with dark chocolate try a sweet wine or with dairy milk try bubbles again.
Duck – Pinot Noir
Lobster – White Burgundy
Oysters – Champagne or Chablis
Prawns – an off-dry Riesling (with marie rose sauce) or else a sparkling rosé (if no sauce)
Smoked Salmon – bubbles or Sauvignons from the Loire Valley, France.
Steak – a big full-bodied red wine, Malbec, Cab Sauvignon, Merlot, or Cote de Rhone.
Due to the long and deep association that wine has with love and romance, one can see why wine retailers and restaurants stock up for St Valentine’s Day. Throughout history wine has been offered as a gift to suggest romantic interest, and even is an essential part of wedding ceremonies.
In general, wine also comes in a bottle size that’s perfect for two people sharing and well paired meals will leave the participants with positive and romantic memories. I also alluded above to the ‘love affair’ that winemakers and viticulturists have with their vineyard.
Most of all though, I mentioned my own love of the chance to discover something new and exciting in every bottle of wine. You may fall in love with the wine you’ve tasted and never look back or search for something new.
Whatever you plan to do this St Valentine’s Day – enjoy the wine and the friendship.
“What though youth gave love and roses, Age still leaves us friends and wine” ~ Thomas More
One last thing – did you know that we launched the Green Acres mobile app recently? Now you can bring us home in your pocket. Book tables, browse wines, learn of special offers, check events, connect with us, earn loyalty rewards and much more. We would really appreciate if you would click on either of the tabs below to download for free.
As usual, you can contact us if you would like to discuss anything about any wines but particularly wines for St Valentines Day for yourself, a loved one or a friend. Also, if you’d like to receive future blog posts from us, directly to your email, just ‘click’ here.
Talk to you soon – Cheers, James.