By David Stansfield
The data on dating shows that spring’s a popular time for breaking up. The kids call it Spring Cleaning, making space for Spring Flings and Summer Romances. Love is in the air.
Personally, I’m a sucker for romance. I like long walks, Ryan Gosling, and dinner for two with lots of wine. Romance and wine go together like keys and well-lubricated locks.
This season, there’s a good chance you’ll find yourself in a restaurant, on a date, across the table from someone hot, confronted with a wine list. No pressure. Just the rest of your night –maybe life, whatever – hanging on this or that bottle. Don’t fuck it up.
I was once asked in a phone-in radio interview to offer tips on ordering wine when on a date. This struck me as kind of weird. The truth is that you can’t fuck this up. It’s all wine. Just pick one. Or, if you’re not sure, ask for help.
The interviewer assured me it wasn’t that simple. Is there a code for indicating your price range without tipping off your date, she asked? No. That’s crazy.
What if the somm tries to trick you? They won’t (we might). You’re being paranoid.
As a joke, I suggested just picking the third cheapest wine. You obviously can’t pick the cheapest wine, and all restaurants know the second cheapest wine move, so go for the third cheapest.
Before I could say “just kidding,” the interviewer thanked me and signed off. Later that day, the station published the interview under the headline “Sommelier David Stansfield Recommends Third Cheapest Wine.” It remains my greatest byline.
Don’t order the third cheapest wine. Try one of these wines instead.
Let’s be honest for a moment. Champagne is kinky. The pop. The spray. Get out of here. It’s a fact of nature and has been for hundreds of years. Check out this poem about Champagne written in the early 18th century by a French priest with zero chill:
See how the delightful nectar
Spurts beneath those pretty fingers
And runs away.
I hope love can do as well.
Me too, bro, me too. In fact, I’ll have what he’s having, which could very well have been the Ruinart Brut, continuously in production since 1729.
Real champagne ain’t cheap. Thankfully, thrifty lovers have options. Jaume Serra’s Cristalino Brut (just $12.99!) bubbles as well as the big boys. For maximum romance, share it straight from the bottle at sunset on a beach. However, be warned: like in love, take it slow and remember to breathe, or end up with foam running out your nose.
Tasting notes are terrible. Their descriptions make wine seem both absurd and tedious. On a date, avoid them. Let the wine do the talking. Like with sex, don͛t think too much. Relax and go with the flow. Yalumba’s Y Series Viognier is all pleasure, no pretense. It nails Viognier’s whole floral/tropical vibe with a lush mouthfeel (the most pornographic of wine descriptors) to match.
Good Beaujolais is good whenever, but it wins date night. It offers incredible value, makes you seem hip, and drinks like a good God damn. If you take one thing from this article, let it be these two magic words: Cru Beaujolais. The Domaine des Billards comes from the cru of Saint-Amour, so, yeah, kind of a home run.
Dolcetto translates to “little sweet one.” It’s a perfect name for a grape that produces such adorable, crushable, dry red wines. Here’s a questionable piece of advice: take your date to an Italian restaurant. Order a bottle of Dolcetto. When it arrives, stare into their eyes and say, ͞Dolcetto in Italian means little sweet one… just like you. It’s a terrible line, but love is corny, and that’s okay.
David Stansfield is the Wine Director at Vancouver Urban Winery, co-host of the popular Sunday School wine school, and Corporate Sommelier for Earls Restaurants. He credits wine with any and all dating success he’s ever enjoyed.