It's time once again for the price of roses to go up—that's right, it's Valentine's Day. If you're looking for ideas to show how much you care, we can help.
For starters, go with Champagne. And remember, this is not the time to pop the cork on some non-vintage sparkler you bought at a roadside stand during a weekend getaway, romantic as it may have been at the time. You'll need a Champagne that practically fizzes the words "I love you," so take a look at this list of vintage Champagnes, including a couple of rosés.
Second, there's no substitute for chocolate. As it is with wine, knowledge is power, so we have a treasure trove of ideas about what might be right for the sweetie (or semisweetie, or bittersweetie) in your life. Get started with our Guide to Great Chocolate, where you can learn everything there is to know about how it's made, the different types and, most importantly, where you can buy it. More of the world's top chocolatiers are featured in Richart: In Search of Great Chocolate, Boutique Chocolate and Scharffen Berger Chocolate.
Last but not least, you have to find a way to make each Valentine's Day special in its own right, whether that means going to the same movie theater where you had your first date or trying a new restaurant. But if you really want to take it the next level, think outside your hometown and make it a Valentine's Day getaway with these great destinations and hotels.
Happy Valentine's Day!
|CHARLES HEIDSIECK Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne Blanc des Millénaires 1995||95||$95|
|This is really beginning to mellow, with coffee, pastry, honeysuckle and citrus notes melting into the fine mousse. It's all brightened by the lively acidity, with a smoke and mineral element emerging on the long finish. Drink now through 2012. 5,000 cases made.
|CHARLES HEIDSIECK Brut Champagne 1995||95||$65|
|Intense aromas and flavors of candied berry and citrus, coffee, pastry and ginger weave a tapestry through the supple mousse in this graceful Champagne. Supported by the lively structure, it's balanced and focused through the finish. Drink now through 2012. 5,000 cases made.
|DE ST.-GALL Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne Cuvée Orpale 1995||94||$95|
|Puligny with bubbles. Very aromatic, with honey, lemon pie and mineral aromas and flavors married to a fine, lush texture. It almost seems soft, yet there's a vibrant acidity that keeps it focused and lingering on the finish. Drink now through 2012. 50,000 cases made.
|CHARLES ELLNER Brut Champagne 1998||93||$65|
|There are malt and biscuit flavors here, matched to a powerful frame. The texture is waxy and it seems like there's plenty of Pinot in the blend. A firm structure and long finish complete the profile of this vinous Champagne. This will stand up to light meat and poultry dishes. Drink now through 2012. 1,200 cases made.
|CHARLES ELLNER Brut Champagne 1996||93||$64|
|An aroma of paraffin, then toast, almond and floral and citrus flavors take over in this dry, firm Champagne. It's aristocratic and elegant, with a fine texture and mouthwatering finish. Drink now through 2012. 1,200 cases made.
|BOIZEL Brut Champagne Joyau de France 1995||92||$72|
|An opulent version, with rich floral, peach and citrus notes up front, then the acidity sweeps in, leaving a bracing finish. A little awkward today, this just needs more time. Best from 2006 through 2015. 4,165 cases made.
|PIERRE GIMONNET & FILS Brut Chardonnay Champagne Spécial Club 1998||92||$62|
|A refined Champagne, with a silky mousse and focused flavors of grapefruit, hazelnut and flowers. Very pure and well-put together, it glides to a long finish with a fruity aftertaste. Drink now through 2012. 1,160 cases made.
|CHARLES HEIDSIECK Brut Rosé Champagne 1996||92||$70|
|A powerful, intensely flavored Champagne, boasting citrus, bread dough, berry and pencil shaving aromas and flavors. It's compact and focused, with finesse and a resonant finish. Drink now through 2015. 1,500 cases made.
|JACQUESSON Extra Brut Champagne Avize Signature 1996||92||$75|
|A combination of intensity and finesse, this vinous style is dry, with biscuit, lemon, honey and almond flavors. It's firmly structured and creamy, with a touch of austerity on the finish. A Champagne for food. Drink now through 2012. 7,750 cases made.
|DE VENOGE Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne 1998||92||$65|
|A strong graphite component marks this blanc de blancs, whose rich texture and fine mousse offer flesh for its honeysuckle, baking bread and hazelnut notes. It has power and finesse. Drink now through 2010. 1,000 cases made.
|DE VENOGE Brut Champagne Millésimé 1995||92||$65|
|A bold '95, slightly coarse in texture, yet full of whole-grain bread, berry and honey flavors. It's mouthfilling, full-bodied and ends with a tactile sensation on the finish. Lingering mineral aftertaste. Drink now through 2012. 4,000 cases made.
|LAURENT-PERRIER Brut Rosé Champagne Grand Siècle Alexandra 1997||91||$95|
|A vinous style, racy and austere, displaying dried berry, pencil shaving and citrus aromas and flavors. It's full of finesse and bracing on the finish, but the intensity is there. Best with food. Drink now through 2012.
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