The Best Wines for Valentine's Day, According to a Sommelier
Whether you're celebrating a major relationship milestone or a Galentine's Day, these are the best wines for the occasion.
Valentine's Day is often marked by flowers, chocolate and, if you're of drinking age, good wine. Pairing wine with a special steak dinner or chocolate dessert can be a way to make the day a little more special. We also love splitting a bottle with best friends for a fun Galentine's Day celebration. No matter how you're choosing to celebrate and what you're willing to spend, we've found a bottle of wine that's perfect for you. These bottles start at under $20 for a festive night with friends and go as high as $400 for an extra-extra-special someone.
Best Wines for Fancy Steak Dinner
Castello Banfi Brunello di Montalcino 2016 is an Italian classic: grown in the most jaw-droppingly beautiful corner of Tuscany, the wine is rich and elegant with notes of ripe cherry, tobacco, and a hint of licorice in the finish. The robust structure with firm tannins beautifully balances out rich cuts of meat like Bistecca alla Fiorentina.
If you're in a French state of mind, try a velvety Bordeaux blend: Chateau Lassegue 2018. The wine is a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc with a touch of Cabernet Sauvignon. The moment you pour it into your glass, aromas of violets and dark berries are released, and on the palate, notes of cassis, black cherry, and an earthy finish. This is a smooth and luxurious wine, a fantastic pairing with Beef Wellington.
Fans of Napa Cabernets will find a lot to love in Nickel & Nickel State Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon 2018. A special project from the owners of the stunning Napa Valley winery Far Niente, Nickel & Nickel produces single-vineyard wines that are unique expressions of the land where they're grown. This bottle is juicy and lush, with rich layers of black plum and subtle spice notes. Pair it with Grilled Skirt Steak with Green and Smokey Red Chimichurri.
Spanish wine lovers are no strangers to wines from the Rioja region. The reds are based on the Tempranillo grape and are typically aged before release, so you'll experience not only red fruit flavors but also lots of savory notes like herbs and leather. Ramón Bilbao Reserva is aged 20 months in American oak then 20 months in the bottle, so it's ready to uncork for a special evening! Try this one with Lamb Chops with Pomegranate Sauce and Saffron Pilaf.
Best for a Bubbly Toast
To celebrate true love, it's hard to top Champagne! Kick it up a notch with Champagne Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Rosé, made from 100% Pinot Noir grapes. This decadent wine has wild strawberry and tart cherry notes balanced with a firm mineral structure for a sophisticated and complex sipper that's perfect on its own or paired with sensual starters like Oysters on the Half Shell with Fennel-Coriander Mignonette. And when you finish the wine, the beautiful bottle makes a fabulous flower vase.
Excellent sparkling wines are made all over the world, and the US is no exception: the famous Roederer family (known for making one of the world's most famous French Champagnes, Cristal) also has a winery in California's Anderson Valley, and it is there that they produce Roederer Estate 2015 L'Ermitage. It's unique because it's only made in select years where the growing conditions are exceptional, and the vibrant wine is full of baked apple, spice, and vanilla notes. The perfect way to show your sweetheart how much you care.
Another fantastic sparkling rosé option: Jean-Baptiste Adam Crémant d’Alsace Brut Rosé. Crémant d'Alsace is one of the best bubbly wines that's supremely enjoyable and usually much gentler on the wallet than Champagne. This wine is fresh, fruity, lively and biodynamically farmed. Enjoy this alongside fresh strawberries.
Cava from Spain provides a fresh alternative to traditional options for cool, adventurous couples. Los Dos Cava Brut is hand-harvested and full of aromas of fresh-baked bread and flavors of juicy green apple and pear. Spanish for "both" or "the two," Los Dos celebrates the intricate steps in the dance of winemaking — a lovely tribute to your love.
Best Wines for Galentine's Day
Milla Handley founded Handley Cellars in 1982, and the wine world mourned the passing of a true trailblazer in 2020. Handley's daughter Lulu has recently stepped in to continue her mother's legacy. Raise a glass to these inspiring women with Handley Cellars 2018 Riesling Anderson Valley, full of ripe peach and apricot notes and a hint of tropical fruit.
For a light and crisp white, try J Dusi Pinot Grigio 2020. Janell Dusi is the owner and maker of her line of wines in Paso Robles, California. Her family has been growing grapes in the area for many generations, but Janell is the first to produce wines. This wine is perfect for sipping and catching up over an epic cheese plate.
Suppose you were planning a girls' trip to celebrate your Galentines. In that case, there's no better destination than Temecula, California: an easy drive from San Diego and Los Angeles and filled with stunning views, beautiful wineries and tasting rooms, and plenty of other activities from golf to hot air balloon rides. If you can't make the trip, pop a bottle of Robert Renzoni Vineyards Lyric Rose 2020 made by winemaker Olivia Bue. Made from the Syrah grape, this wine has aromas of rose petals and fresh peaches.
For a rich red, try Ehlers Estate 2018 Merlot. Talented winemaker Laura Diaz Munoz is originally from Spain, and she brings her European sensibility to Napa Valley, crafting lovely and elegant wines. Her Merlot is filled with raspberry and mocha notes, with complex tones of nutmeg and dried herbs — a wine to get cozy with over a charcuterie board.
Penner-Ash 2018 Estate Pinot Noir has fresh berry and warm spice notes, with fine tannins and a hint of vanilla. Founded by Lynn Penner-Ash, Penner-Ash is one of Oregon's most celebrated wineries. Kate Ayers has been the current winemaker since 2018. A silky wine to sip with Baked Brie with Fig Preserves.
Best for Pairing with Chocolate
Banfi Rosa Regale is sweet sparkling red with aromas of rose petals and fresh ripe red berries, made in the Piedmont region of Italy from a grape called Brachetto. It's incredible with chocolate desserts. Think lighter milk-chocolate-based treats or even white chocolate: it's perfect with White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake Bars.
If you'd like to combine your wine with dessert, Gonzalez Byass Nectar Pedro Jimenez Sherry is traditionally drizzled over vanilla ice cream! With flavors of golden figs, honey, and jam, it would also be terrific with Chocolate Caramel Crunch Pie.
For creamy chocolate desserts like Chocolate Mousse, pair a ripe, juicy, and concentrated red. Ancient Peaks Winery 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon has deep dark cherry and vanilla flavors. The tannins are velvety — the smooth texture and rich flavors mean this wine won't make your chocolate desserts taste bitter (a typical challenge with pairing chocolate and wine).
Best Extra-Special Bottles
For a perfect marriage of old and new world winemaking, Luce Toscana IGT 2018 is an iconic Super Tuscan wine that began as a partnership between legendary Napa winemaker Robert Mondavi and the Marchese de Frescobaldi family from Tuscany. It's a symbolic wine of two different cultures coming together for harmonious results and fit for a memorable Valentine's Day.
For couples who love travel, celebrate your globe-hopping lifestyle with a Bordeaux-style blend from Chile: Sena 2019, 25th Anniversary Special Edition. Chile can make world-class wines, and this is one of the first genuinely iconic wines to be created in the country. It unfolds with layers of herbs, dark cocoa, dark berries — an incredibly complex wine with tons of elegance and freshness.
Widely regarded as the top wine out of Spain, Vega Sicilia Unico 2006 is a once-in-a-lifetime drinking experience. A blend of Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot, the wine is traditionally aged for 10 years in the barrel — and only gets better with age, just like the best love stories. With aromas of purple flowers and black tea, and a soft, dense, complex body, this is unforgettable in every way.
Sarah Tracey is a wine, food, and lifestyle expert based in New York City. A certified sommelier, she worked her way up from spit-bucket emptier at a local winery to Michelin-starred Wine Director in top NYC restaurants. When she’s not vineyard-hopping, Sarah blogs at The Lush Life. She regularly shares food pairing, home entertaining, and beverage expertise with Martha Stewart Living, Oprah Daily, People, Food & Wine, Forbes, Elle, Refinery 29, Life & Style Weekly, Town & Country, Cosmopolitan, PureWow, Brides, and Cheddar TV. Her idea of self-care is a solo Beyoncé dance party with a glass of rosé Champagne.