Wine Time

5 Old World Wine Regions and the First Dates To Serve Them On [UPDATED]

Green light!
Green light! Photo by Kate McLean
Correction: Tasmania is a new world wine region.

First dates are deliciously awkward and best served with wine—but as all wines are not created equal, neither are first dates. A little more goes into securing a tasty bottle than just picking a region. While mandated requirements aid in keeping quality ship shape, also vintage, producer, and varietal come into play—that and your preferences.

What better place to get those questions answered than your local wine shop or restaurant (we can still sell you bottles without having to open them first.) Educated professionals in either of these settings are dying to recommend that bottle worthy of a first date—but let’s be real the chances that this guy is “the one” are so slim that the few takeaways could be—the wine, a solid buzz, and the fact that you’ve waxed everything south of your eyebrows.

Let’s start from the top, it’s very important to not pick the bottle you will serve in advance. Leave yourself at least two different avenues of action, because the period in between when he asked you out and when you actually go out will definitely have you seeing things a little rosier. It’s likely by the time that first date rolls around you’ve already chosen the first song you’ll dance to at the wedding and named your children, or in lieu of children, chosen the location of both beach and mountain vacation homes.

Back to when he shows up completely sober and handsome to your one tequila shot in and flirty little periwinkle romper— this is where rosé comes in handy. Start off with a glass or so of cold, bold, old world French rosé. Make it close to Aix-en-Provence, and make it Syrah—nice and dry.

What do we mean when we say old world? It means Europe south of cold-ass Britain—though it seems they are making some decent bubbles these days. Old world means long, nuanced flavor trails. It means refinement and tradition. It means different languages with interesting accents that make you want to curl up like a kitten and be petted by linguistic jargon.

Here are five four old world wine regions and which type of first date to serve them on:

Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG: This guy is a total daddy and definitely has facial AND chest hair—it’s 2020 Burt Reynolds. He’s not the guy you’re going to marry either. And it’s likely you both work in the same field so, you know, he gets you.

This guy is way too good to be true so be sure and not blow your load on the first date by acting too interested—like Brunello interested. Show him you’re a classic. Bold and untamable, just like the homegrown Umbrian varietal sagrantino native in particular to the commune of Montefalco.

Montefalco Sagrantino has had a DOCG status since 1992 and its requirements are that it be made from 100 percent sagrantino and aged a minimum of 37 months, 12 of those in oak. This thick-skinned, inky grape has it all—fruit, tannin, acid—and spreads broadly over the palate, just like Burt Reynolds on a bear skin rug.

(Side note: gentleman, no need to grow a mustache if you don’t have the chest hair to back it up.)

Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG: Of course, there is the urge to say screw it and just open your favorite wine because at least you’ll have that—but I’m telling you this is a mistake. You will resent the fact that you have to share it with someone who won’t stop talking… but perhaps there is a time to open a Brunello on the first date. And if it’s a 2010, 2012, or 2015, well that, sir, could mean a green light for other things.

Only open the Brunello if at least three of these boxes have been checked:
  1. He makes you laugh really hard—A real laugh that warms your cold little Siberian prison heart because something he said was witty, or inappropriate, or caught you off guard.
  2. Leading up until the date he doesn’t text you at all. Zero. Making you question if he actually even likes you.
  3. His eyes twinkle.
  4. A pandemic is going on.
  5. You know he’s not gay.
Here is why Brunello Di Montalcino is the absolute tits: the grape is sangiovese grosso, or brunello, a varietal of sangiovese with a bigger berry and thicker skin—bigger berry equals more fruit to ripen, thicker skin equals more tannin.

Among many other growth specifications, this wine is required to be made from 100 percent sangiovese grosso and aged a minimum of four years, two in oak barrels, and four months in bottle.

Think medium acid and long-leaning tannins. The Montalcino region, though a smaller Tuscan region, varies greatly in terroir and gets good sun for ripening.

Beaujolais: Beaujolais is a solid French wine region that used to be included under Burgundy’s umbrella.  Often times a "cru" distinction, the highest for that region, has flavors reminiscent of the big B. There are ten crus in Beaujolais, Morgon and Moulin-á-Vent are good bets. Gamay is the grape and it’s best enjoyed after at least three to five years of age. If it’s Beaujolais nouveau forget it—that’s a present for a friend that you moderately like and that you know knows nothing about wine.

This first date wine gets popped because you’d still like to enjoy yourself but you're murderously bored retelling the story of how you came to be you and how he came to be him.

German Riesling: Hipster. Updates his Insta story daily. Has a podcast. Your first date is probably a picnic suggested by him. Busting out a trocken aka “dry” riesling from Germany signals that you know that he knows that you know what’s up with wine. It’s the ole’ tip o' the cap.

The Mosel region in particular produces banging rieslings with titillating acid that pair well with spicy thai or straight up: cheese. The Reinghau and Pfaltz regions are legit too, but the Mosel is especially sexy because of its almost vertical blue slate slopes that hug the Mosel river—and the fact that it has to beg for every beam of sunlight, every degree of warmth.

Go ahead, trocken-locken-drop it on the first date, but make sure he has subtly complimented you at least a handful of times.

Tasmanian sparkling rosé: How exciting, you’ve accepted a first date proposal from a ginger. Gingers all have a little crazy in them so getting them hopped up on Tasmanian sparkling rosé is as good a place as any to begin observing how crazy.

Tasmania, which you would think it would be sweltering because it’s associated with Australia, is in fact, quite chilly just like the French Champagne region—which is perfect for growing crisp and acidic grapes to be mellowed by due process into a sassy sparkler. Add skin contact for extra umph rosé style, and ze méthode Champenoise, and yeah, I won’t not drink that.

Really curious to try the pinot noir rosé sparkler from the Jansz vineyard, whose winemaking techniques were originally influenced by the Louis Roederer champagne house. Just like in Champagne, the méthode traditionnelle means the wine has undergone a second fermentation in the bottle—pretty romantic. Yeast devouring sugar and pooing out delicious bubbles.

*Tasmania is technically a new world wine region.
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