Impress Your Date with These 12 Romantic Wines

It's not about being the biggest spender. Wine professionals from some of Boston's hottest restaurants share their picks, just in time for Valentine's Day.

Photo by Alexandra Wimley

Photo by Alexandra Wimley

You finally mustered up the courage to ask your crush on a date. Or let’s say you’re planning a night out with your significant other. Hell, maybe your Valentine’s Day forecast includes nothing more than takeout and Netflix. The only thing missing? The perfect bottle of bubbles.

It’s not about ordering the most expensive bottle on the list, or picking the flashiest label on the shelf. When it comes to impressing your date, confidence is the key.

So, we reached out to the wine experts at some of Boston’s sultriest restaurants: Liz Mann, assistant wine buyer at Spoke Wine Bar; Select Oyster Bar chef and partner Michael Serpa; Meritage sommelier Nick Daddona; and Ted Hawkins, general manager and wine director at the new SRV. The recommendations are all on offer at their respective restaurants, as well as bottle shops throughout the city. Retailing from under $20 to more than $1,000 (based on estimates from the professionals and from wine-searcher.com), and running the gamut from dry sparklers to deep Burgundy, here are the best bottles to choose for a memorable Valentine’s Day.

Sparkling and Rosé

Tissot Cremant du Jura
MRSP $13

“To me, there is nothing more impressive and romantic than sparkling wine,” says Hawkins. Daddona agrees: Both have three bubbly suggestions.

“For affordable sparklers, I would recommend the Tissot Cremant du Jura,” Hawkins says. A region in eastern France between Burgundy and Switzerland, Jura has a diverse and beautiful wine-producing history, he says. “Don’t be fooled by the price point; this wine is complex and delicious. A perfect way to start a meal.”

Domaine Gracieux Chevalier Crémant de Bourgogne Brut
MSRP $19

The French sparkler is full of body, Daddona says. “This wine is produced from grapes grown by this producer, a rarity at this price! Find body and balance at under $20.”

2010 Contratto Brut Millesimato
MSRP $26

Looking to spend a bit more? “This is an amazing expression of pinot noir and chardonnay, grown in Northern Italy,” Hawkins says. “It is vinified methode traditionale“—Champagne-style, with a secondary fermentation in the bottle—”and it feels very much similar to Champagne, but at a much more affordable price point.”

Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs
MSRP $36

From California’s North Coast, Schramsberg is the standard for U.S. sparkling wine, Daddona says. “It punches well above its price throughout the world—one of the best at the price.”

2009 Jean Lallement Grand Cru Brut
MSRP $75

“This is serious Champagne packed with elegance,” Hawkins says. “Even the label is sexy!”

Krug Grand Cuvee Champagne, France
MSRP $190

“When all else fails, break out the Krug,” Daddona says. “Complex with full flavors of caramel, toffee and chocolate, with being completely dry. It’s a beautiful example of Champagne.”

Pol Roger Brut Rosé 2006
Estimated $45

“Vintage champagne is always a perfect move, especially rosé for Valentines Day,” Serpa says. From a classic Champagne house, this is a “beautifully balanced” blend of pinot noir and chardonnay, with still pinot noir added before bottling in the traditional method, he explains.

NV Caves Jean Bourdy Crémant du Jura Brut Rosé
Estimated $25

Speaking of classic French traditions, this “lively, flirtatious sparkler” comes from a small vineyard in in the village of Arlay, worked by the same family for 15 generations, Mann says. “Bourdy is my go-to when selecting a memorable wine for a romantic occasion.” With 100 percent trousseau grapes, “each enticing sip begs another with small, snappy bubbles; hints of cherry and tangy citrus zest. Stony minerality and racy acidity deliver sensation while dangling delicate fruit and flowers for the finish,” she says. “Coupled with its hue of perfect sunset pink and a head-turning price point, this is an essential wine to enjoy with someone special for Valentine’s Day.”

Frank Cornelissen Susucaru 2014
Estimated $29

Produced naturally with a blend of grapes including Nerello Mascalese, this unfiltered, deep magenta wine is reminiscent of a sour beer, Serpa says. He actually describes it as a “super funk, wine nerd rosé from Sicily. Drinks more like a chilled red than a rosé,” he adds, and it’s “amazing with tuna tartare and richer seafood dishes.” The former Neptune chef has purchased it at the Wine Bottega in the North End, he says.

White

2012 Elian da Ros ‘Coucou Blanc’
Estimated $33

Elian da Ros “produces well-crafted wines of depth and complexity,” Mann says. “This blend, although more reminiscent of Bordeaux, produces a flair redolent of the delicately perfumed and tropical fruit flavors of the wines of Alsace.” It’s especially impressive he creates this much nuance on only five hectares in Marmande, Bordeaux, she adds. Golden straw in color, Coucou is “a delightful combination of naturally aromatic Bordeaux varietals,” including sauvignon blanc, Semillon, and sauvignon gris. It “brings an intriguing complexity to the palate, layered with the sweet and subtle musk of dried flowers, hints of apricot, and a finish that flashes just the slightest suggestion of sesame oil. This wine makes me hungry, and is the perfect dinner companion (next to your date, of course).”

Francois Mikulski 1er Cru Meursault ‘Poruzots’
Estimated $105

“This is what great white burgundy should be,” Serpa says. The modern producer tames the weight of typically-produced Meursault with bright acidity. The chardonnay grapes add richness, which is “balanced and alive with minerality and acidity.”

Red

2014 Lamoresca Mascalisi
Estimated $45

This vineyard, on a farm on Sicily’s south coast, is the passion project of natural wine enthusiast and former restaurateur Filippo Rizzo, Mann tells us. On just four hectares, Rizzo cultivates indigenous varietals to “produce terroir driven wines.” Seventy percent Nerello Mascalese grapes give it fresh acidity and gentle tannic structure, and lush Frappato “lure you by the nose through a garden of violet, lily and iris,” she says. “You’re already in love by the time the flavors of plum and dark, ripe berries burst on your tongue. Elegant, feminine, sensual, and strong, with understated structure, this wine is Ava Gardner in a silky black dress. Undeniably seductive, this wine will elicit a sigh of satisfaction after the first sip, as you realize, ‘Oh yeah, this is the one.'”

Domaine Armand Rousseau Grand Cru Chambetin Clos de Beze 2010;
Domaine Armand Rousseau Gevrey-Chambertin 2012
Estimated $1,350 and $150, respectively

“Armaund Rousseau is one of the most prestigious names in Burgundy and if you have the means to pick some up and actually find some, go for it,” Serpa says. “The Grand Cru is very pricy, but will definitely impress.  The village level Gevrey-Chambertin is a better value but quality as well. Finesse, structure, classic Burgundy pinot noir.”

Meritage Restaurant & Wine Bar, 70 Rowes Wharf, Boston; 617-439-3995 or meritagetherestaurant.com.

Select Oyster Bar, 50 Gloucester St., Boston; 857-239-8064 or selectboston.com.

Spoke Wine Bar,  89 Holland St., Davis Square, Somerville; 617-718-WINE or spokewinebar.com.

SRV, 569 Columbus Ave., Boston; 617-536-9500 or srvboston.com.