Now, while I don't condone getting hammered on a first date, I am a loyal wine lover. And because I love wine, I spoke with Tyler Balliet, co-founder and president of Wine Riot, a huge wine tasting event series that's held in major cities across the US (the next one is coming up in NYC on September 23-24), to learn even more about it.
Here, Tyler gives us single vino lovers the skinny on what kinds of wines are best to drink on date night, how much to spend, and more.
How much should you spend on a bottle for date night?
"Wine is a lot like fashion," Balliet says. "Value is in the eye of the beholder."
While some wine snobs can taste the difference between an $8 bottle and a $30 one, just because one kind of wine is twice as expensive as another doesn't always mean it's twice as good — which is valuable information in the event that you're a) trying to impress your date, or b) trying to dine on a budget.
“Anything that's between $15-17 has never been in an oak barrel, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's bad,” adds Balliet. It just means these were created affordably, but not with as much time and energy as the wineries generally invest into their higher end wines.
Wines in the $20-$30 range have most likely been "hand-harvested," meaning the makers have put a lot of time and care in picking the grapes.
"Spending a little bit extra, even if you don't know what you're doing, will pay off," says Balliet. But really, you can't go wrong on a first date as long as you buy a bottle that's more than ten bucks.
How do you pair wine with food?
The lighter the meal, the lighter the wine should be. The heavier the meal, the heavier the wine should be.
So if you're heading to a nice steak dinner (you fancy, huh), order a full-bodied red wine, like malbec. If you'll be eating white fish, opt for chardonnay. Easy, right?
Dropping this knowledge on your date can also be a great convo starter — especially if you're on one of the Tinder or blind date variety.
"I think creating a talking point around it is your best bet,” Balliet says. Connect the wine to either a place you've been or somewhere you want to go (like Napa), which will open up the convo and help you share more and learn more about the person you're with.
What can you do if you spill red wine on yourself?
One time, I went on a first date, and the dude was so nervous he spilled red wine all over my Gucci bag.
While annoying and unfortunate, this doesn't have to be a deal breaker.
Balliet suggests rinsing the wine splatter with warm water immediately. If that doesn't work, there's also a product called "Wine Away," which is promised to wipe away all your sad wine stains. Balliet suggests packing it in your purse, or at the very least, bringing along some Tide pens.
If it's wine teeth you're worried about, unfortunately, there's not much you can do about it. Although, "Pinot noir doesn't have the staining ability that a cabernet or zinfandel does," Balliet says.
Or, you can just stick to white and smile, worry-free.
Which wine should you get for a beer-loving guy?
Fun fact: "Women are genetically more predisposed to not like bitter tastes," Balliet says (I didn't know that!). Which means, it's harder for women to adapt to the taste of beer than it is for men to adapt to wine. *Mind blown*
So, if your date is all about that Bud Light, suggest he try a bold, fruity, red wine, like an Argentinian malbec or a Californian zinfandel, since they're more universally tasty. Another good option? Rosé all day, baby!
Finally, as a last resort, your date could try a cider, which also happens to be a great pick for fall.
That being said, you shouldn't push your date to come to the wine side if he's really not into it. You can have your differences in drinking preferences and still be a great match.
As Balliet says, "The story around wine is much more interesting than what's in the glass." Kinda like how your date's personality, humor, and interests should be much more important than what he orders at the bar.