February 14 comes but once a year. How to make it the ultimate dinner date? A romantic bottle of vino is essential. Higor do Valle (below), the new full-time sommelier at The Continental, suggests three bottles at a range of prices on the restaurant’s wine list to go with a romantic meal à deux.
Modest: Valpolicella Ripasso, Franco Cesari, “Mara,” Veneto, Italy 2012, $65
Veneto, home to Romeo and Juliet, is also home to some of Italy’s greatest wines. Named for the Cesari family matriarch, Mara is vinified via the Valpolicella’s ripasso technique, creating an elegant wine with a bouquet of ripe cherries. It has a persistent, velvety mouth feel with notes of dried cherries and violet, and a warm finish.
Mid-range: Pinot Noir, Ken Wright Cellars, Meredith Mitchell Vineyard, McMinnville, Oregon 2013, $150
You can’t discuss romantic and sexy wines without including a Pinot Noir, says do Valle. Lovers of Pinot are seldom at a loss for adjectives to describe the flavors and aromas captured in this intoxicating wine—cherry, raspberry, cranberry, rose petals, anise, spices, and much more. This Pinot is fruit-focused with an earthy minerality, plus notes of black currant and cassis. The label artwork honors the perfect marriage of food and wine.
Splurge: Champagne Rosé, Dom Pérignon, Épernay, France 2003, $750
When we talk Valentine’s Day wines, it doesn’t get much better than the 2003 Dom Pérignon Rosé, the latest release from the famous Champagne house. This bubbly is released only in excellent vintages by Chef de Cave Richard Geoffroy, who demands the exceptional. Dried flowers, red cherries, sweet citrus, and ginger notes jump out of the glass in a Rosé that is all about sensuality—graceful, balanced, and astonishingly beautiful, do Valle says.