18 Best Red Wines To Celebrate Valentine's Day

We're all for year-round romance, but as February rolls around, so do grand gestures and Valentine's celebrations. Depending on your current relationship status (or lack thereof), you may be eagerly anticipating this love-filled holiday. Nothing says a classy night of romance quite like sharing a bottle of wine with your significant other. With anticipation comes planning, and finding the perfect bottle is an important part of the picture.

To simplify the task of selecting the optimal choice for your purposes, we're highlighting our favorite Valentine's Day date ideas. Wine can be paired with far more than food, so we've put in the work to pick our top options by activity. Whether your idea of romance is getting cozy in front of a fireplace or you'd rather be tearing down a hill on a dirt bike, we've got a pairing for you. Sticking with our celebratory theme, we've opted for a compilation of red wines to match the dozen red roses you'll be sending or receiving.

For a picnic date

The idea of a picnic in February may seem absurd if you live in a cold climate, but whether you are graced with sunshine and palm trees or have learned to embrace the snowfall, there are ways to make it work. Picnics are a great idea if you're looking for a casual dining experience that can be whipped up with ease and zero pretension. Opt for foods that keep well like sandwiches, grain or pasta salads, and light snacks. If you want to take it up a notch, pick up a French baguette, assorted charcuterie, and cheese and you're set.

If the weather is accommodating, pack a basket or cooler with the goods, and be sure to bring a blanket for ultimate comfort. Meanwhile, if you're pretending summer is closer than it feels, arrange space on the floor in your living area and channel the same vibe. Depending on your setup, you may want to use plastic plates and wine glasses — paper cups will even pass if that's all you've got.

To match the relaxed atmosphere of a picnic, we recommend a bottle of Frappato from Sicily. This light-bodied wine is brimming with fruity notes of strawberries, cherries, and pomegranates, combined with floral and spice aromas. With minimal tannins, it is excellent for sipping solo and perfect for the lighter fare you'll be serving. Try Occhipinti Il Frappato, a low-intervention winemaker showcasing a fresh and balanced wine.

For a candlelit dinner

Nothing screams romance like flickering candlelight illuminating your significant other's face, shadows dancing along the walls as you enjoy a decadent meal. Sure, electricity is great, but dimming the overhead lights and setting up the atmosphere with candles is a foolproof romantic move. That being said, you might not want to bust out your best recipes based on the findings of a 2021 study published in Food Quality and Preference. According to researchers, diners tend to find flavors taste less intense when eating in a dimmer environment.

In that case, you'll want to lean toward bolder flavors with regard to the food, and just as importantly, the wine. Priorat is a tiny region in Catalonia, Spain, in the northeast of the country. While it may be geographically small, the wines do not go unnoticed and feature varying blends of grenache, carignan, cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and syrah grapes. The llicorella soils are a notable factor that contributes to mineral flavors that mingle with dark fruits and spices.

Although the result is potent, it is equally balanced and offers some softness to counter the weight. Still, this is exactly the type of wine that will stand out in the candlelight. Black Slate La Vilella Alta by Eric Solomon Selections is an excellent introduction to the wines of the region.

For a movie night

Sometimes the best activity to enjoy time with your sweetheart is a relaxing night of Netflix and chill ... and we mean watching a movie. Whether you choose a classic rom-com or opt for something spooky so you can cling to your partner during the most riveting scenes, a solid bottle of wine is the perfect companion. Movie snacks can be pretty diverse, from buttery popcorn to Milk Duds and Twizzlers, and you can go in plenty of directions with the wine, too.

If the movie is any good, you won't be paying all that much attention to the flavors, so complex multilayered bottles are off the table. Still, you want something that is pleasant and versatile enough to sip with or without snacks. We recommend a fruity style of pinot noir from New Zealand. Here the iconic grape takes on a bright freshness with a soft acidity that adds structure to the red fruit flavor profile.

Cloudy Bay is one of the pioneer wineries in the Marlborough region, partly responsible for the popularity of New Zealand sauvignon blanc overseas. Since then, the winery has expanded to other styles of wine and its pinot noir is a top selection for lovers of the grape worldwide.

For a game night

Romantic dinners are a classic date night idea, but if you want to keep a fun spark ignited, playing a game is the way to go. We're not suggesting the kind of game you might play if you're being coy with a new love interest; instead, think of favorites like Scrabble, Monopoly, cards, and chess, or check out the latest strategy game on the market. Depending on your selection, you may be engaging in one-on-one competition or having a group of friends over to join in the amusement.

To match a game potentially rife with concentration and rising tension — or on the flip side, as silly and lighthearted as they come — we recommend a Southern Rhône red blend. The primary grapes showcased are grenache, syrah, and mourvèdre, aka GSM by those in the know. However, over a dozen varieties are permitted, making this an eclectic area to explore. Specific villages are highlighted by some bottlings, but for an affordable and crowd-pleasing option, those labeled Côtes du Rhône are a great bet.

Thanks to a warm sunny climate, these wines are richly flavored and offer notes of red and black berries, spices, and herbs. They pair well with a range of food or sipped solo, though you might want to have a padded stomach as they tend to pack in weighty alcohol content. Try Halos de Jupiter Côtes du Rhône for a sip of balanced intensity to match the competition.

For Galentine's day

A day dedicated to romance is all well and good, but if you aren't currently paired up, it might feel like you're missing out on a holiday. "Parks and Recreation" character Leslie Knope coined the phrase Galentine's Day in a 2010 episode, and it kind of stuck. For the unacquainted, the holiday is celebrated among girl friends on February 13th, as an ode to their friendship. Whether or not there's a partner waiting at home, the idea is to spend quality time together. Men can rest assured that Malentine's Day (February 12th) is the perfect occasion to hang out with their buds.

If you want to lean into the spirit of the holiday and have a bottle of red wine, this lightly spritzy red wine option will be perfect for you and your pals (we enjoy the term Palentine's Day). Lambrusco is made with indigenous grapes from Italy's Emilia-Romagna province. You'll find styles ranging from lightly fizzy to full-on bubbly and sweet to dry. Paltrinieri's Piria wine is made with Lambrusco Sorbara and Lambrusco Salamino grapes, which offer a highly aromatic and floral taste with notes of red fruits. Pour it for light sipping or serve it with a splashy charcuterie board.

For outdoorsy couples

If your idea of a romantic date involves hiking up a mountain, adventure sports, or camping, you're probably not keen to lug around a glass bottle of wine. The extra weight, volume, and potential risk of breakage is the last thing you want to deal with when you're enjoying the great outdoors. Thankfully, canned wine has come a long way in recent years and there are countless options on the market worth trying. Aside from the quality, it provides an excellent alternative to standard packaging when you're on the go.

Zinfandel is the perfect grape for outdoor lovers looking for adventure and a vibrant flavor profile. With aromas of jammy fruits, spices, and occasional smoky notes, it is the perfect pairing for a couple who would rather belay each other up a rocky face than sit through a candlelit dinner. Maker produces excellent zinfandel with old vines from Paso Robles packaged in a 250-milliliter can. A balanced blend of fruit, oak, and spice makes this the perfect companion no matter the adventure you have in mind.

For foodie couples

While some couples are happy grabbing fast food from the local joint, others take great pleasure in the sensual joys of savoring a unique meal together. If your Valentine's date night consists of visiting the latest trendy restaurant in your area, consider contacting the place to ask about its corkage policy. If it's fair game, bringing your own wine allows you to choose a bottle you may have set aside for a special occasion, i.e. Valentine's Day.

Or perhaps, your idea of romance is cooking a thoughtful meal for or with your significant other. A visit to the farmer's market or a gourmet grocery store followed by some quality time as you prepare a feast of flavors is a dreamy proposition for any foodie. If you're equally keen about selecting a harmonious wine pairing for your dinner, we recommend choosing a bottle made with mencía, a red wine grape commonly found in Bierzo, Spain.

Medium-bodied wines ripe with red and dark fruit aromas, mingling with earthy, herbal, and spiced notes are produced from this lesser-known variety. Pinot noir and cabernet franc lovers will enjoy the Spanish flair of familiar flavors. With a vibrant acidity and structured tannins, mencía pairs well with a range of dishes both meat and plant-based. Pick up a bottle of Ramόn Valle by Peique, described by the winemaker as sophisticated and lively.

For group dates

Whether you've just begun your courtship or have been with your partner for several years, planning a date with other couples is a fun way to switch up the routine. And even though Valentine's Day is often considered a holiday celebrated between two people, you certainly don't have to restrict yourself to such arbitrary limits. A good meal, entertaining movie, or bowling game are all enhanced with the presence of a group of friends. Plus, you'll still have plenty of time to get close to your significant other.

Cabernet franc is a gentler take on cabernet sauvignon and is actually its parent grape along with sauvignon blanc. Subtler tannins, a lighter body, and a moderate intensity make cabernet franc an excellent option to satisfy a group of people. With floral and herbal aromas balanced by red fruit, its streak of acidity makes it an ideal pairing with food, notably tomato and vinegar-based sauces or charcuterie. Consider a make-your-own pizza night or a charcuterie spread and uncork a few bottles by Les Athlètes du Vin, made with cabernet franc from the Chinon region in France.

For a winter wonderland date

If you're in an area of the Northern Hemisphere that sees snow in the month of February, spending the day outdoors with your significant other is a charming way to celebrate Valentine's Day. Whether you prefer more extreme sports such as downhill skiing or plan to go ice skating or snowshoeing in the woods, there are many ways to take advantage of the picturesque white landscape. That being said, there's nothing quite like the feeling of coming indoors after a day in the cold, rosy-cheeked, and eager to soak up the warmth for the remainder of the evening.

To pair with this pleasant sensation and further spice up your senses, we recommend choosing a wine made with the syrah grape. While it is identical to shiraz as it is typically referred to in Australia, the stylistic features of the variety are different depending on the name. Although it isn't set in stone, syrah tends to have a higher acidity with fresh floral, herbal, and spiced aromas rather than bold, ripe, and jammy notes.

Walla Walla in Washington state is rapidly making a name for itself as an excellent source of syrah wines. With diverse rock and sand soils and an optimal cool climate, syrah vines flourish to produce excellent fruit. Try a bottle of Gramercy Cellars syrah, brimming with herbs, olives, dark fruit, and a vibrant body that will warm you up from the inside out.

For a spa-inspired date

If self-care alongside your partner is your love language, set up a spa-themed date to highlight the ambiance. Regardless of your living arrangements, you can bring the spa to your home. A candlelit bubble bath, Epsom salts for a foot soak, massage oils, aromatherapy, and relaxing music are some ideas to bring this plan to life. Aside from the spa activities, you'll want to ensure you have light snacks and beverages prepared to avoid having to interrupt your relaxation.

A cheese board, smoked salmon, sliced fruit, and nuts will provide you with some sustenance. Meanwhile, on the wine front, we recommend a bottle of zweigelt, Austria's most-grown red grape variety. Heinrich winery makes a natural and organic zweigelt wine that is fresh, fruity, and elegant, with a light body that pairs well with or without food. You'll enjoy juicy flavors of black and red fruit, licorice, chocolate, and black pepper in every sip.

For a cozy night by a roaring fire

There's no underestimating the romantic ambiance offered by a fireplace. If you're lucky enough to have one at your disposition, getting cozy on the couch as you gaze lovingly into your partner's eyes is undoubtedly a suitable Valentine's date. (Of course, you could set up some gentle music playing in the background or sit together with a book too.) In any case, dim lights are a must, as is a soft blanket to make the experience all the more luxurious.

To match the intensity of your intimate soirée, we recommend a bold cabernet sauvignon from Napa Valley. Founded at the end of the 19th century, the Charles Krug family estate is the oldest winery in the region. It has since perfected the harmonious balance of structure complemented by oak aging, producing cabernet sauvignon wines that are smooth on the palate. Berry flavors blend with notes of vanilla, caramel, and chocolate to round out this savory wine that will make your fiery date night that much better.

To pair with chocolate

It's no secret that Valentine's Day is synonymous with chocolate, and we hope that involves both giving and receiving decadently sweet treats. From milk chocolate and pralines to dark bitter styles, brownies, and molten lava cake, there is an endless array of options. What better way to celebrate this chocolate-fueled holiday than by savoring a higher-than-average amount of cacao-based desserts?

Merlot wines come in a wide range, with notes of dark cherries and plum and an herbal or ripe structure depending on the climate of where it is grown. However, notes of chocolate are a consistent feature of these boldly flavored wines, making merlot an excellent accompaniment for the sweet itself if you don't want to opt for a dessert wine. To take advantage of the aromas of the mature fruit, look to South Africa where merlot is rapidly thriving. Shannon Vineyards Mount Bullet merlot is a juicy and concentrated take on the world-renowned grape that is pleasant to sip between chocolatey bites.

If the festivities are starting early

If your plans for Valentine's Day involve a slow start to the morning with breakfast in bed and something a little harder than coffee, consider swapping the mimosas for red wine. To be fair, we aren't suggesting a bold and tannic high-alcohol red to start the day — it isn't quite so nice with scrambled eggs, nor is it conducive to partaking in various activities throughout the day. Instead, we recommend a lighter-bodied low alcohol red that you could possibly even convince yourself is practically grape juice ... if you need any convincing, that is. For an even gentler start, some sweetness is also a welcome match for your stack of pancakes and fruit salad.

Brachetto d'Acqui is a sweet lightly sparkling wine made with brachetto grapes in the region of Acqui, Piedmont. The aromas of strawberries, roses, and spice are livened up with some acidity, making this a very pleasant sipper that is equally great paired with desserts or light snacks. With an alcohol content hovering around 5% to 6%, enjoying a glass of this ruby red wine with brunch won't set you back for the day. Pick up a bottle of Pineto Brachetto d'Acqui DOCG by Marenco for a stellar example of this fine wine.

For the comedy couple

For couples who like to keep it playful, look no further than this bottle of Beaujolais from central France. Made with the light, fruity, and silky smooth gamay grape, these wines don't take themselves too seriously. That said, the quality is still high if you're picking a bottle from a reputable producer or from one of the 10 Beaujolais Crus (including the aptly named St-Amour).

Amour Vache is a natural wine by Vin Noé, a small-scale producer in the region, founded by a Californian winemaker with a dedication to careful viticulture and low-intervention winemaking. The French expression means "tough love," which could be just the right level of whimsy to serve at a Valentine's Day dinner with your loved one. A sense of humor is key, though they might just understand the translation of "amour" alongside the image of an anatomical heart and find it cute and quirky.

Either way, you'll both enjoy this vibrant wine with red fruit notes like cranberries, raspberries, and cherries. Serve it as an aperitif before heading out for a comedy show, and finish off the night by having a glass with a slice of berry pie or cobbler when you get back home.

For oenophile couples

If you and your partner are always trying new and interesting bottles, you'll need to aim high to make your Valentine's Day choice stand out. For many red wine lovers, syrah from France's Northern Rhône Valley is at the top of the tier. The grape variety shines in this terroir, developing savory aromas and notes of herbs, smoked meat, black pepper, olive, violet, and dark fruits. These iconic wines are the perfect way to celebrate your relationship in style.

With a history spanning several centuries, Château de Saint Cosme serves as an inspiration for a prosperous and lasting union. The winery's Côte-Rôtie bottling comes from the highly prized eponymous viticultural region. To add to the wine's appeal for oenophiles, it is produced with serine grapes, believed to be an ancient variety of syrah. Whereas some wine experts think the two grapes are relatives, others believe them to be one and the same. For two avid wine geeks, this mystery is sure to keep you in a tête-à-tête all night long.

For a weekend away

Invite your plus one for a weekend away this Valentine's Day with the promise of romance. A bottle of Cheeky Bisous by Stagiare Wine hints at intimacy in the name, making it the perfect sidekick for your little getaway. If you can't actually leave town, turn the occasion into a staycation while keeping the holiday spirit alive. This Sonoma Mountain wine showcases an interesting blend of merlot with a splash of sauvignon blanc.

If you and your partner make an unexpected pair, you'll love this surprising duo — proof that opposites do attract. The juicy merlot brings bold flavors, while the sauvignon blanc keeps every sip bright on the palate. Chill it to bring out its vibrant nature and fruity elements reminiscent of watermelon Jolly Ranchers. Pop it open once you arrive at your destination to get your weekend off to a splashy start. If you're pairing it with room service, Cheeky Bisous makes a great match for red meat (from burgers to steak), poultry, and even pizza.

For artsy couples

If you're not in a place to splurge on a piece of art for your love, show them it's on your mind with a special bottle of wine. While you could choose what you think is the most eye-catching label, any pop art admirer is sure to be wooed by a Keith Haring label. Tuscan winery Tenuta di Ceppaiano is the proud recipient of an image designed by the artist himself upon visiting the estate in the late '80s. It now graces the bottle of a Super Tuscan blend of sangiovese, cabernet sauvignon, and merlot.

Savor the wine with your partner and enjoy notes of wild roses, cherry, mint, licorice, and cassis as they mingle with warm aromas of vanilla, white chocolate, and oak. Pair this Italian stunner with a hearty bowl of pasta ("Lady and the Tramp" style?) or your favorite Mediterranean dish. Once you've drained the bottle, give it a rinse and use it as a candle holder or a decorative vase to display flowers.

For a themed night

Sure, it would be nice to be whisked away to Paris or Rome for Valentine's Day, but for a more affordable cultural journey, bring an international flair to your kitchen. Plan out a themed dinner, be it French, Italian, Indian, or Thai. Granted, if you're planning on sourcing your wine pairing from the same origin, you might want to stick to places with a strong food and wine offering. Italian cuisine will infuse your night with comfort food vibes, while your wine selection will elevate the soiree.

Sure, a bottle of Chianti Classico is charming, but this Valentine's Day, go a step further with Amarone della Valpolicella by Antiche Terre Venete. This potent wine is made by air-drying the grapes over a few months to concentrate the sugars and flavors. Once pressed, the juice ferments and ages, producing a luscious wine with bold aromas and notable alcohol content. Dark fruits, chocolate, and spice mingle on the palate, making it a sensual wine to sip on with your meal. Incorporate hard cheeses, your favorite cut of red meat, and a dark chocolate dessert for a night to remember.


To choose a selection of red wines for Valentine's Day, we first considered various date night activities and relationship characteristics. For active couples, we wanted to make sure the format was convenient and could be taken on an adventure. On the other hand, foodie couples or those with a strong appreciation for wine called for a bottle that was more in line with those characteristics. Ultimately, we tried to match the activity or couple dynamic to wines with a similar profile — be it playful, refined, or gourmet.

To select the specific bottles, we looked at regions known for producing the styles we narrowed in on. We aimed for a balance of more mainstream producers and niche winemakers to offer variety. We also focused on wineries and producers that seek sustainability, organic viticulture, or minimal intervention winemaking when possible.