Wine Ink column: Wines to share with your love on Cupid’s holiday

Wine, as if you didn’t already know, is a great social lubricant. A moderate amount can help reduce inhibitions, enhance desire and lead to the lovin’ things.
Special to the Tribune | iStockphoto


If the word “sex” is in a headline, readers are 62.5 percent more likely to read the story.

I just made that up. In fact, I’ll bet the number is actually much higher. But as you have read this far, you are a part of that sizable majority of people who fall prey to that cheap ploy.

Ah, but good on you. For sex, like wine, is one of life’s great pleasures. And while, like drinking wine, it is better to participate in sex than to read about it, it is still fun to explore in print.

This week we are blessed with a three-day weekend that also includes the day that celebrates sex … er … love, Valentine’s Day. It is tailor-made for drinking wine with the one you love and for reading a column recommending the wines you might want to do it with.

Love Science

Wine, as if you didn’t already know, is a great social lubricant. A moderate amount can help reduce inhibitions, enhance desire and lead to the lovin’ things. Need proof? While it is obvious that a glass or two of wine can turn a man into a horndog, it was never quite as clear about what affect wine had on women.

Seeking clarification, a group of Italian researchers in 2009 conducted a study of 798 women (ages 18 to 50) in the Chianti region of Tuscany to determine if there was a difference in the Female Sexual Function Index among those who drink moderate amounts of wine and those who did not. Now, to be sure, these were Italians doing the study, and it was in Chianti, two things that clearly could account for bias, but the researchers found “regular moderate intake of red wine is associated with higher Female Sexual Function Index scores for both sexual desire, lubrication and overall sexual function as compared to teetotaler.” And it sounded even sexier in Italian.

So what are the perfect wines for Valentine’s Day? As St. Valentine himself was Italian (Legend has it he was a priest who was beheaded on Feb. 14, 742 for defying the Roman Emperor Claudius II by marrying young lovers) and the aforementioned research was done in Italy and Italy is known for love, let’s drink a couple of red wines from … drum roll, please … Italy.

Brunello Di Montalcino

Start in Tuscany, actually, and the commune of Montalcino specifically. If you can find a bottle of 2010 Brunello Di Montalcino, buy it, cancel your plans, put your phone on mute and get ready for a special Valentine’s Day. Made from 100 percent sangiovese grwosso grapes, “the blood of Jove” (the Roman God Jupiter), Brunello di Montalcino can be as fickle as pinot noir. In bad years, it can be really bad. But in the good years, it can be sublime, and the 2010s, many of which were just released last spring after four years of aging in large Slovenian oak casks, are widely considered to be stupendous.

These are big, raw, but balanced wines that have the flavor and aroma of the Tuscan earth, tobacco, leather and, of course, dark rich fruit. Both you and your lover will find a shared glass to be a delicious experience.


Romeo and Juliet hailed from the city of Verona in the northeastern part of Italy. Amarone is a wine that comes exclusively from the Veneto region the Shakespearean lovers called home. Blessed by the nearby waters of Lake Garda, the area is stunningly romantic. It is also a very important place in the world of Italian wine, home to the white varietal Soave and the lighter style red Valpolicella.

Winemaking in Veneto goes back centuries. The legend of Amarone goes that one day someone left a batch of Recioto, an intensely sweet wine made by the Romans in a barrel too long and the magic of nature and a healthy dose of yeast conspired to take most of the sweetness out of the wine. A new style of heavily concentrated, yet dry wine was born.

Amarone is blended from three regional grapes ­— corvina, which dominates, rondinella and molinara. The grapes are given as much hang time as possible and are harvested late in September or even early October. Hand-picked, the grapes are placed on bamboo mats to dry for up to 120 days in a process known as appassimento. This allows the sugars to concentrate and removes moisture, giving Amarone its unique character.

High in alcohol, deep in color and explosive in flavor, Amarone is actually a very sexy wine. But it is not for the timid. No, only bold lovers need apply. Just like Romeo and Juliet.

Kelly J. Hayes lives in Old Snowmass with his wife, Linda, and black Lab, Vino. He can be reached at

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