Wines of Love, Wines to Love: Updating My Loves

Romantic love, shromantic love. I think I’ve cracked far more special bottles for the other types of love—friendship, family, pets, and—okay, there is hopeful-for-love bottle cracking. And then, yes, there are the romantic wines. Love those too. WHAT makes a love wine? It’s just a wine that gives that “I care” vibe. What a journey we are about to embark on! LOVVVVE ACROSS THE BOARD: CHARDS AND PINOTS Call me basic, but nothing says love more than these two. They are the platonic ideal, bar none, of both wine and romance (when well-made, of course). When my WSET Diploma pals and I gather to blind taste (it's like we went to war together and are trauma bonded—even though we are done with the tests, we can’t stop reliving the terrors), SOMEONE usually ends up bringing Burgundy. It is how we share love. Also! When some people say, “I hate Chardonnay,” I shrug it off. But, if I love you, I will hand you glasses of it, not revealing what it is until you say you love it, and I can make you realize you don’t hate Chardonnay. And good Pinot…well. Need I go on? This time around, I will wax on about two California options—seeing as I love living in this state. 2016 Garden Creek Alexander Valley Clonal Selection Chardonnay And, of course, I have to kick it off with a wine with a beautiful love story behind it! I was lucky enough to lunch with Karin Wärnelius-Miller, who, along with her husband Justin Miller, tends the fields and makes the wines. “I’m doing what I love, and I’m doing it alongside the man I love,” she stated. The two grew up in wine country and returned to Alexander Valley in their twenties, and the rest is history. AND they make EXCEPTIONAL, elegant wines. This Chard was (if forced to pick one) my favorite. Honeyed (but not sweet) with hints of beeswax, something herbal, almost a lemongrass vibe, is in the mix. Light on the palate for a wine with a smidge of age and vitality! Almost effervescent in spirit. 2021 Rodney Strong Russian River Pinot Noir A ripe but balanced representation, suave and smooth. Very fresh nose, green underbrush, well, under the ripe red fruits and spices. The palate is cooling (in flavor) and warming (in abv) at the same time, and if hot and cold isn’t a recipe for romance…I kid, sort of. Some sweet tobacco vanilla notes twine in. It finishes slightly more savory with earth, dried leaves, and allspice weighing in. SENSUAL LOVE: ZINS I can’t with Zin. It is such a heady brew. It is so rich yet lively, and to me, the sensuality of sharing a bottle of Zin is next to (almost) none. Here’s a classic: 2019 Grgich Hills Estate Zinfandel Potent AF. Deep dark blackberry cassis fruit with an herbal undercurrent I adore. Fruit-forward with licorice and pepper underlying it. Ultimately luxurious. A heady bottling with nuance and flavor and a perky and bullheaded, it will find a way. FAMILIAL/CIVILIAN LOVE: SOMETHING UNUSUAL You need something to surprise and educate these loves—they expect a lot out of you, and the best thing you can do is pour a wine they’ve never heard of that will knock their socks off. 2021 Feudi San Gregorio Falanghina Falanghina is fun to share with wine novices and experts alike as they are slightly off the beaten track and utterly delicious. Golden yellow with a zesty, bitter salted almond note on the palate, they are voluptuous, not losing track of that sharp salinity, though. It is very alive, bringing in under-rich white peach and herbal notes to the mix, finishing floral with that almond note recurring. ROMANTIC LOVE: ROSÉ CHAMPAGNE This is beyond the sensual. This is the potential soulmate share. You’re pulling out the big stops. Billecart-Salmon is a big move, but beware, it may set a high bar. Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé Red-fruit forward with those fun brioche topped with sea salt nuances on the nose. Somehow creamy and prickly on the palate, go figure. Elegant and nuanced, each sip gives something a touch different. Finishes lightly toasted with a zip of lemon zest and a squeeze of cherry juice. CAT LOVE (FOR ME, THIS ONE IS SUPER SPECIFIC, I KNOW I KNOW) Xinomavro is a wine. Xinomavro is the name of my cat. I honestly may spend Valentine’s Day night curled up with my cat and a glass of this. The most recently tasted one reminded me of how I love the variety. Okay, so maybe your pet’s name is Pinot or Fido, or maybe even Belinda…if there is a wine that reminds you of your furbaby (or…scale baby? Feather-baby? Or tarantula-baby?) I encourage you to celebrate with your pet and a glass of whatever’s good. Here’s mine: 2020 Thymiopoulos Earth & Sky Xinomavro Brooding and inky as can be on the nose—it channels my cat’s perturbed-at-any-noise ears. But it has earth and red cherries. The palate is bright and brilliant, and the tannins are medium plus but so silky you’d hardly notice them. Except you do. The acid and alcohol are bracing, with more florals coming through, tempering all the brash leather and earth notes with a touch of femininity. You can drink it alone, but it desires food and the nearby purr/bark/whatever-noise-spiders-make sound of your pet. HOPEFUL LOVE: CASUAL BUBBLES AKA LAMBRUSCO When you need a wine that sets a mood and shows an interest, you need a sparkling wine! But not from Champagne—something more flirty, more playful. Something that says, “I’m fun to kiss, but don’t worry, I’m not looking for a ring tonight”…just me? Lambrusco says the romance of Champagne without the commitment of dollars or soul. Venturini Baldini Marchese Manodori Lambrusco Toothsome, if wine can be called that? Balsamic and dark fruit but lifting, pizzazz-y, and undercurrents of not-sweet blackberry and fig jam. It is all you need. So, there you go, my love. Wine suggestions for a myriad of situations. As I wrote this, I realized I’ve concocted love cocktails for many situations, but maybe that is for next year. In the meantime, if a night in with myself, and I want a shower wine on Valentine’s Day? Obviously, I am going to pick the pinnacle of caring wines. I’m making it Chardonnay. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Want to read more from Ellen? Check out her recent articles: Ellen in Lalaland: Thai Town What to Drink When You’re Not Drinking for Dewy or Dry January: 2024 Edition Mad, Mad, Madeira World Crémant On Unexpected Reds You can also listen to Ellen's podcast , The Wine Situation here . Check out her recent transcripts of the Final Five questions: Wine Situation Final Five! Elle Rodriguez Wine Situation Final Five! Marilee Bramhall

Feudi di San Gregorio

Sannio Falanghina 2021

Falanghina is fun to share with wine novices and experts alike as they are slightly off the beaten track and utterly delicious. Golden yellow with a zesty, bitter salted almond note on the palate, they are voluptuous, not losing track of that sharp salinity, though. Very alive, bringing in under rich white peach and herbal notes to the mix, finishing floral with that almond note recurring. — 15 days ago

Bob, Tom and 8 others liked this
Bob McDonald

Bob McDonald Influencer Badge

I love Falanghina. Very Mediterranean
Ellen Clifford

Ellen Clifford Influencer Badge Premium Badge

@Bob McDonald one of my favorite under the radar wines!

Grgich Hills Estate

Napa Valley Zinfandel 2019

Potent AF. Deep dark blackberry cassis fruit with an herbal undercurrent I adore. Fruit-forward with licorice and pepper underlying it. Ultimately luxurious, also AF in the ranking. A heady bottling with nuance and flavor and a perky and bullheaded, it will find a way. — 19 days ago

Bob, Tom and 3 others liked this

Garden Creek

Chardonnay 2016

I was lucky enough to lunch with Karin Wärnelius-Miller, who, along with her husband Justin Miller, tends the fields and makes the wines. “I’m doing what I love, and I’m doing it alongside the man I love,” she stated—the two grew up in wine country and returned to Alexander Valley in their twenties—and the rest is history, AND they make EXCEPTIONAL, elegant wines. This Chard was (if forced to pick one) my favorite. Honeyed (but not sweet) with hints of beeswax, something herbal, almost a lemongrass vibe, is in the mix. Light on the palate for a wine with a smidge of age and vitality! Almost effervescent in spirit. — 15 days ago

Tom, Paul and 5 others liked this

Billecart-Salmon

Brut Rosé Champagne Blend

She is red-fruit forward, she has brioche touches and sea salt nuances on the nose. The palate is that sort of balance there isn’t a proper word for but gosh it’s there. Finishes slightly toasty with a zip of lemon and a squeeze of cranberry. — 17 days ago

Jeroen, Bob and 9 others liked this

Venturini Baldini

Marchese Manodor Lambrusco

Apparently I had this a few years ago. I still find it a delight. Toothsome, if wine is allowed to have that descriptor. Balsamic and not-sweet blackberry/fig jam. Enough weight and enough acid to keep it spritely. Omg love a good Lambrusco. It’s just the thing you need to bring some pizzazz without platitude sometimes. — 15 days ago

Tom, Laura and 2 others liked this

Thymiopoulos Vineyards

Earth and Sky Terre et Ciel Xinomavro 2020

Brooding and inky as can be on the nose—it channels my cat’s perturbed-at-any-noise ears. But it has earth and red cherries. The palate is bright and brilliant, and the tannins are medium plus but so silky you’d hardly notice them. Except you do. The acid and alcohol are bracing, with more florals coming through, tempering all the brash leather and earth notes with a touch of femininity. You can drink it alone, but it desires food and the nearby purr/bark/whatever-noise-spders-make sound of your pet. — 16 days ago

Tom, Jay and 2 others liked this

Rodney Strong Vineyards

Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2021

Ripe but balanced, suave and smooth. A very fresh nose with green underbrush. A combos cooling palate (in flavor) yet warming (in abv). Sweet tobacco and vanilla weigh in. And oh hey it finishes more savory than sweet—dried leaves and allspice? I’m into it. — a month ago

Tom, Juan and 3 others liked this