You can learn a lot about your friends by what they order at McDonald’s. Do they always get Chicken McNuggets or do they try the new items, say the Holiday Mint McFlurry? The people I turn to for wine advice? They never order the Chicken McNuggets. They always order some new wild-ass flavor combination. In short, they will taste and eat anything, because they want to experience first-hand as many flavors as possible…to learn what they like and what they hate. What does this have to do with a list of the best Valentine’s Day wines from $15-$35? You won’t find many Chicken McNugget wines here.
Wine shops, even the little cute stores with hand-written tasting notes, are filled with hard-to-decipher jargon about tannins and finish and palate. There’s a ton of wine out there, a lot of it seemingly esoteric and obscure. You’ll be well-served by learning to trust your own taste buds. Find a shop that does wine tastings, at least once a week. And try EVERYTHING, even stuff you don’t think you’ll like. There’s no substitute for your own personal experience.
I tasted a lot of junk in order to decide what I loved. I didn’t look at critics’ ratings (though they’re often right!). I did use my many years of experience running wine shops, wine tastings and wine tours, and watching what people enjoyed, listening to what they requested. This is a list of wines you should be able to find just about everywhere; or at least order from a source like wine.com. No obscure, esoteric collector’s items here. Just, yummy, well-respected mainstream brands. Sorry, Kerri’s Biodynamic Estate-Grown Hand-Picked Sulfate-Free Less-than-100-cases-produced Wine Hut. Here’s a list of “Royale with Cheese” wines, wines I love, backed up by lots of happy wine drinkers.