We've rounded up eight of the wines producers featured at Best of the Best (though not necessarily precisely what they're pouring). We've also suggested the sort of date for which each might be ideal, and provided food pairings. It's up to you score the date.
You've both swiped right, exchanged messages and moments. It's time to seal the deal. Don't betray your carefully crafted profile by ordering plonk wine, yet this isn't the time for pricey cult Barolos. Terredora di Paolo, from Italy's southern Campania region, is honest and challenging, just like you. The Aglianico is a straightforward southern Red. Earthy with notes of raspberry, currant and tobacco, it pairs beautifully with rustic Italian cuisine such as Neopolitan polpette (meatballs) or broccoli et salsiccia (sausage). $15
Hiking, sailboarding, ultimate frisbee. Whatever your pleasure, this date is cool and deserves a cool wine. Washington wines have come into their own in the past few years, but Chateau Ste. Michelle was the first. The label's Riesling is dry and approachable, a serious, yet engagebable wine with engaging mineral and citrus notes. Pair with the latest trendy ramen dish. $9
You're each hip and on top of the latest trend, seeking out the best cold-pressed coffee and avocado toast spots in town. Chilean wine Carmen, part of the Trinchero Family Estates portfolio, highlights the Carmenere grape. Twenty years ago, no one even knew it was there (it was hidden in amongst the Merlot). The wine is tricky to produce without heavy green pepper notes, but Carmen does it right. Dense and full bodied, with notes of ripe berry, tobacco and anise, it pairs nicely with braised oxtail or veggie arepas. $19
Hey, it could happen. No seriously: it happened to a friend-of-a-friend of mine once. If it does, be prepared. This group of California wines, from the Trinchero Family Estates, says it like it is. In fact, you should probably buy three bottles: The Malbec, the Sauvignon Blanc and the aptly named red blend Midnight. Pair with oysters and chocolate-covered strawberries. Go you. $11 - $14
Remember actual first dates? Setting things up, trying to impress, trying not to say anything too mundane or idiotic? Here it's best to go traditional. Marchesi Antinori's iconic super-Tuscan Sangiovese blend recently celebrated its 40th anniversary. We like the intense 2011, with its deep plum fruits, black cherries and hints of mint. Pair with lamb, steak, lobster and a hint of trepidation. $100
You don't want to be in the zone, but here you are. May as well make the most of it. Get what she wants, maybe it will help change her mind. But if she asks for a suggestion, play it casual with Kenwood Vineyards' Sonoma Series Zinfandel or Chardonnay. Classic fallbacks, they're solid representations of Sonoma County wines. Like you, they can always be depended on. Pair with pizza and wit. $15 - $17
The evening demands a special wine. Flowers Vineyards produces some of the most well-regarded California Pinot Noirs on the market. The 2012 is complex,with elegant fruit-forward aromatics of candied cherry and raspberry. It's lush and round on the palate and, despite its relative youth and abrupt finish, seems a lot older (like some relationships). Pair with quinoa and quail egg salad and roast herbed chicken. $65
The rare and exotic sitter has been identified secured, this calls for a Champagne toast. Nicolas Feuillatte is moderately priced, plenty tasty, and until his death last year, Mr. Feuilllatte was still actively involved with his namesake bubbly as brand ambassador. The limited edition X'Ploration Brut Reserve arrives in festive gold foil to make the $20/hour time away from the kids all the more special. Pair with firm, aged cheeses drizzled with honey. $36
by Robert Haynes-Peterson
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