Decantress advises a bro with a wine-savvy love interest.
I’m wondering if some wines might be considered more “romantic” than others. The girl I’m into is way more cultured than me. I don't want to waste money on an expensive bottle if it’s not going to make the right impression, but I also don’t want to get something that's bland. In wintertime, I might imagine deep fruits with a slight spice. Earthy wine seems difficult to make romantic. But white wine or something for spring: I have no idea. Am I way off? –Wishful
The good news is that your putting so much consideration into the bottle you buy for your date in and of itself is romantic. Beyond that, you should probably relax a little (wine will help). If she really likes you, a wine misstep won’t scare her off. Buy something that you feel comfortable with; there are plenty of great, relatively complex wines out there in the $25 range—be it entry-level Bourgogne Blanc, a coastal Italian white, or something fun and fresh from Corsica. Better yet, think about what she likes or orders while out at restaurants. Stocking up on the types of wines you already know she loves will show her not only that you had her in mind when purchasing them but that you’ve been paying attention—which will do way more to set the mood than some stock flavor profile like "deep fruits" and "slight spice."
If you’re still at a total loss: Champagne. It’s great in pretty much every situation (including as a substitute for breakfast, if you want to take a page straight out of my husband’s playbook). There’s no dish it can’t pair with. And rare is the person who doesn’t care for it. Grab something from one of the trusted houses—the large firms like Bollinger, Ruinart, or Charles Heidsieck, that make great, consistent Champagnes from purchased grapes—or from an independent grower-producer like Georges Laval or Pierre Péters. Splurge within reason, and if the girl doesn’t work out, at least you have a delicious bottle in your fridge to treat yourself to.
Have a wine situation? Send your questions to Food & Wine's Decantress at firstname.lastname@example.org