Eight Miraculous Nights of Wine
In the spirit of Hanukkah I’ve put together eight potential date scenarios and paired them with an appropriate wine. From the quivery first date to Hanukkah at his parents’ place, there is a wine for every occasion (and sometimes you will need it)!
1) The Beginning: A Very Good Place to Start
On a first date, what better than an aperitif to open the doors to the tingly possibilities of a new relationship? The word actually comes from the Latin root, ‘aper’ relating to open or opening. Aperitif (or aperitivo) in Italian is designed to stimulate the appetite. It’s an invitation for more. Traditionally aperitifs are made from dry or off-dry wine and spirits with some bitters thrown in to literally stimulate the senses and start the digestive process. Try a classic Prosecco or Champagne, or mix it up with a Kir Toyale (Prosecco and Cassis), or an Aperol Spritz (Prosecco and Aperol). I like Ombra Prosecco Brut. It’s great on its own and mixes well with others (wink). For the men out there who feel somehow emasculated by bubbles, get over it. Real men drink sparkling wine. Real men are real men no matter what’s in their glasses.
2) Dinner and a Movie
This date takes some commitment as it entails spending several hours together, some of them shoulder to shoulder in the dark. If you’re dining beforehand, choose something that isn’t too heavy, or too alcoholic for that matter. You’d hate to get chatting and kissing and completely miss the movie! Or would you…? If you’re dining post cinema, bring out the big guns. A Barbaresco is complex and layered without being too heavy. The wine will evolve in your glass, giving you something else to discuss besides the disappointing character development and stark cinematography. Ca’ del Baio Marcarini Babaresco DOCG.
This will take some courage of course. Rich red wines from California have a way of melting anxieties. They can also cause rubber legs so be sure you stand up every so often. Then again, if the date goes well, you might just get weak in the knees for other reasons. Try J. Rochioli Sweetwater Vineyard Pinot Noir 2010.
4) He or She is Taking You to a Holiday Party
Bubbles are really your only option here. They’re festive, and the sparkle pairs perfectly with deep-fried foods like latkes. No need to whip out the Dom though. Most people won’t notice the difference, but for the discerning palate, Louis Roederer Brut Premier will always be my go- to. It’s smooth and balanced, classy without trying too hard, and is essentially the baby brother to Cristal (if anyone’s asking).
5) Meeting the parents
Here, impression is key. Even for those who know nothing about wine, Bordeaux is a recognizable wine that happens to pair excellently with brisket. The dusty tannins work to skim any excess grease from the plate, which means (unless it’s overcooked, in which you lie through the strings of meat stuck in your teeth) you can tell your potential future mother-in-law that her brisket is the best you’ve ever had. Bring an extra bottle for later, when you get your date alone and no longer have to pretend you only drink alcohol on occasion… Cos d’Estournel, Grand cru classé de Saint Estèphe.
6) The Break Up
Keep it short and sweet by ordering hard liquor. Wine requires too much thoughtfulness and might reignite old romantic feelings. At least with a vodka tonic you can completely blame the sauce and feel far less guilty the day after.
7) The Hook Up
You probably won’t finish the bottle so don’t spent too much. Otherwise buy a great bottle of Tempranillo and turn the leftovers into Sangria. Alto Cedro Ano Cero Tempranillo.
8) Spicy Ethnic BYOB
Nine out of ten people are foodies these days, and everyone loves culinary adventuring to the far reaches of the city for that little gem of an ethnic restaurant that got a stellar write-up. The chance to choose the wine at a BYOB restaurant is a great opportunity to show your depth of culture. It can also lead to disaster if you cross the line in either direction—pretention or classlessness. Don’t show up with a box, unless it’s Bota Box or From the Tank – both of which have graced many successful picnics and parties at my place. Kaltern Caldaro Moscato Giallo is a still, off-dry Moscato that functions like a Riesling. The palate feels like the honey and the acidity keeps things fresh. Pilandro Lugana DOC is a unique choice not everyone has heard of. It comes from the Garda region of Italy. It’s dry with a characteristic bitter-almond finish. Easy to pair and in a word, delightful!
*After all these years I’d love your feedback, so please comment below and tell me what you’re drinking!