Why do Valentine’s Day wine reviews offer so much overwritten prose and overpriced plonk?
Valentine’s Day brings out the worst in the wine business – overwritten prose and overpriced plonk. Is it any wonder the Wine Curmudgeon refers to it as The Holiday That Must Not Be Named?
Hence the following, which – sadly – demonstrates the point after the most basic of Google searches:
• From something called The Spruce Eats: “… Cupid claims some serious turf when it comes to wine for your Valentine.” If so, Cupid should know better than to recommend a 7-year-old rose, which would likely taste like pink paint varnish.
• Most of the wines recommended in this Town & Country post are more than adequate, if a bit pricey. But doesn’t someone at a big-time magazine like Town & Country care about writing? Am I the only one who thinks a line saying that one wine is “just like the slightly sweet kiss from your special someone” should be edited with extreme prejudice?
The Vibracions rose is $10 cava that will please even the most demanding significant other for the Holiday That Must Be Named
The Holiday That Must Not Be Named requires offerings as if it was a Greek god who must be appeased, else thunderbolts slam down from the heavens. Which is where the Vibracions rose comes in.
The Vibracions rose ($10, purchased, 11.5%) is cava, or Spanish sparkling wine, that offers amazing value, modern winemaking, and traditional cava style. In other words, a cheap wine to please even the most demanding Greek god – or even a significant other.
The key is a Spanish red grape called trepat, which was once common but now is too often passed over in favor of pinot noir. Trepat gives cava a berry-like brightness that pinot doesn’t always offer (particularly if the pinot is from Spain). That quality is on display in the Vibracions, which offers an almost dark, spicy aroma; bright, fresh strawberry fruit, though not too tart and with a hint of something darker; and the kind of tight, cascading bubbles that always denote top-notch sparkling wine.
Highly recommended – a Hall of Fame quality wine. Chill and drink it on its own, or pair with with almost any Holiday That Must Not Be Named dinner. It’s also the sort of thing for brunch, served with creamy, almost custard-like scrambled eggs topped with chives.
Our annual Valentine’s Day wine roundup from around the cyber-ether, since the WC doesn’t acknowledge the holiday that must not be named
• Affordable wine: The Anniston Star in the Alabama city of that name offers a variety of wines for the holiday that must not be named, with some sweet but also affordable. Maybe we’re making progress on the price front, despite all the other hullabaloo in the wine business. And I was impressed to see a wine column in an Alabama newspaper, given how unfriendly the state’s liquor laws are to wine and other booze.
• Wine clubs? I mention this post from Business Insider, about a wine club called Winc, because the PR person for Winc is unhappy with me after I told her how I felt about these sorts of efforts. I’m glad to see she got someone else to try it, and the review is positive. Still, when one has to mention in the review that you can also buy chocolates, it does give pause about the wine.
• Of course, sexy: This post, from something called Great Wine News, isn’t new, but it sums up Google’s feelings about the holiday (since it shows up at the top of the search rankings). “Below we have gathered a list of 10 sexy, sultry wines that will heat up the night or put that spice back into your relationship.” Now you understand why I don’t acknowledge the holiday.
A look at Valentine’s Day wine suggestions from around the Internet, because the Wine Curmudgeon doesn’t want to do it himself, given this is The Holiday That Must Not be Named:
? From a supermarket: HEB, the Texas grocery store chain that is one of the largest independents in the country, focuses on sweet and cute, including chocolate-flavored wine. I’m not sure there is anything here I would recommend, but the Wine Curmudgeon is not the target demographic for this post. Also note how the post uses descriptors that focus on sweet, like candied fruit. Anyone who wants to know why sweet red wine has become such a cash cow need only look here.
? From a wine magazine: Decanter, the British equivalent of the Wine Spectator, sticks to sparkling wine, but includes cava and Prosecco, including “10 great value Cavas” and English sparkling wine. The point here is not whether these wines are available in the U.S., but that the editors understand not everyone wants to spend $200 on a bottle of Champagne. Would that wine magazines in this country took the same approach. My favorite pick? The Jansz sparkling from Tasmania, about $20, which I drank on New Year’s as part of my Champagne boycott.
? From a financial news website: The Street runs a lot of wine-related items; why is anyone’s guess. But most of it is solid information, and its choice of 11 Valentine’s Day wines is more of the same. The 11 wines are mostly white, mostly quality (though not always easy to find), and mostly around $40. Having said that, the Marcel LaPierre from Morgon in Beaujolais, about $30, is an impressive recommendation.
? Bring out the wallet: My pal Blake Gray, who is championing the five percent of Americans who buy wine that costs more than $20, should enjoy these suggestions for Valentine’s day — the $56 Moet Rose Imperial and the $119 version, which comes with the wine and two Champagne flutes. Because, for your money, you deserve something more than just quality sparkling wine. Says one expert quoted in the story: “They ?re racy, they ?re elegant, they got that aroma of red fruits, they strike a chord.” What more can we ask for?
? Two-buck Chuck, anyone? Seriously, suggests Christy Strawser in Detroit, who has a compiled a cheapskate’s guide to the holiday. Which, frankly, made the Wine Curmudgeon shed a tear in admiration. Her favorite? The Charles Shaw merlot, available at Trader Joe’s for $3.49 or so. You’ll have to supply your own glasses, though.
? Scoring? Really? When the Wine Curmudgeon was a youth, many similarly-aged young men boasted of “scoring with chicks.” This was, of course, a foreign concept to someone like me. Nerd and geek were insults then, and we didn’t get to be network television stars. So I’m at a bit of a loss about what the headline for this post means: “10 Valentine ?s Day Gifts to Score With.” Does it mean pleasing someone or does it carry the other — dare I say — sexual connotation? Because, frankly, I’m not sure anyone is going to score with a chick or dude with the wines mentioned in the article. They’re Red Diamond pinot noir and merlot, $10 grocery store-style wines sold mostly in restaurants. There is certainly nothing wrong with them, but I think Blake’s 5 percenters would most decidedly turn their noses up.
I am, however, a huge fan of the J Vintage ($90, sample, 12.5%), price be damned. Is ?very yummy ? too technical a wine term to describe it?
Look for layers and layers of complexity and flavor ? some pear fruit, some yeastiness (but not overdone the way many French wines at this price are), and even some melon. Don ?t often get that in a bubbly. In all of this, the wine is not as aggressive as J ?s non-vintage wines, which means less citrus and more subtlety in the fruit flavors. But there are still lots and lots of tiny bubbles, for those of us who love that.
Is it worth nine bottles of a quality $10 Spanish cava? That all depends who you are going to share it with.
Ordinarily, the Wine Curmudgeon does not participate in the festivities surrounding The Holiday that Must not be Named. But this year, given the rough winter that so many of us are having, I figured, why not? Plus, it gives me a chance to write about champagne and sparkling wine, which was the blog’s New Year’s resolution. (If you really don’t want to do bubbly, this Chalk Hill is quite nice.)
So if you ?re wondering where to go with Valentine ?s Day wine, here are three sparkling suggestions:
? Freixenet Cordon Rosado Brut ($11, sample). Spanish bubbly is called cava, and this one is more fruity (some citrus) than similarly-priced cavas. Plus, it’s pink, so you’re getting with the holiday theme.