Maybe you’ve already consumed plenty of wine during this pandemic. Here’s an excuse to drink some more. Valentine’s Day is coming — this Sunday, February 14, for all you last minute types — and perhaps you want to impress your sweetie. Or you want to kick it up a notch for yourself. Even better.
We asked Jill Bernheimer, owner and proprietor of wine shop Domaine LA (it’s at Highland and Melrose near Hollywood) for some recommendations. We asked her to picks wines that are…
- delicious and unique — just like us
- local — or as local as you can get in Southern California
- affordable — $25 per bottle was our approximate price point (for us, that would be a bit of a splurge but not unfathomable)
- romantic — if you can’t be a little sappy on a manufactured holiday designed to selll greeting cards and candy, when can you be?
You should be able to find her picks at many local wine stores or fancier supermarkets like Bristol Farms, Gelson’s and Whole Foods.
Bernheimer also urges people, “If you can’t get to a wine shop or a grocery store that has thoughtfully sourced selections, consider buying wine from whatever restaurant you might be ordering from for the evening.” Yes, you’ll pay a little extra for a bottle of wine but it will help restaurants survive after what has been a brutal 12 months.
Here are a few restaurants with great wine options: Night Market, Botanica, Ototo (they sell sake too), Kismet, All Time, Otus Thai, Esters Wine Bar next to Cassia and Helen’s Wines at Jon & Vinny’s. And check out our roundup of the natural wine happy hours. Yes, we published it before the pandemic but it features several stores and wine bars that are still open and offering great vino.
Now, onto the wines. Here’s what Bernehimer chose and why she chose them.
Broc Cellars – 2020 Love — Chris Brockway works out of Berkeley but sources fruit from all over Cailfornia. The white, which was just released, is a Rhone-style blend of Marsanne/Grenache Blanc from Madera County. His “Love” series is a perfect match for this holiday. COST: $20 per bottle.
J. Brix – 2020 Uncontainable Rosé of Cinsaut — “I love the wines from J. Brix and you can’t get much more local than this. It’s one of the few rosés made from San Diego county grapes and perhaps the only one from organic, dry-farmed vineyards,” Bernheimer says. And it’s the perfect “blush” color for a pink-themed evening. COST: ~$24 per bottle.
Stolpman Vineyards – 2020 Love You Bunches Sangiovese — Bernheimer describes this as “a lighter, chillable red that’s equally compelling to drink on its own or with your favorite pizza for a low-key and less serious evening.” If you want to impress your date by being very on trend, Stolpman, based California’s Central Coast, recently added a macerated Love You Bunches Orange wine to its line-up. “It’s a very peachy, easy entree to that category,” she says. COST: ~$23 per bottle.
For bubbles, there aren’t as many affordable, domestic options. You’ll have to spend a little more and most of your options will be in the pét-nat category. Pét-nat is short for pétillant naturel, which means “naturally sparkling” in French. Unlike champagne, it’s made by allowing unfinished wine to ferment in the bottle. Bon Appetit called it “the ultimate in lo-fi winemaking.”
Bichi – Pet Mex — If you want an affordable Champagne-method wine, you’ll be relegated toward non-U.S. offerings. Bernheimer likes the Pet Mex from Bichi, in Tecate, Mexico, for a slightly dry offering. COST: ~$35.
Lo-Fi – Chenin Pet Nat — For something drier, Lo-Fi in Los Alamos makes a lean, mineral-driven. Mike Roth makes only 100 cases so this isn’t something that will be widely available. COST: ~$34.
Domaine Landron Atmospheres — Back in the Champagne-method category, Bernheimer’s go-to inexpensive bubbly is a cremant of Pinot Noir and Folle Blanche that “drinks well over its price point,” according to Bernheimer. COST: ~$23.