Fuel Your Valentine's Day with these 8 Sensual Wines

Some wines are just sexier than others, with distinct aromas, textures and tastes that give them innate sex appeal.

I’ve long been consumed with finding the wines best suited to fueling red-hot assignations. It turns out that certain winemakers share my compulsion. The late Dr. Max Lake, founder of the boutique winery Lake’s Folly in Australia’s Hunter Valley, devoted years of study to the erotic power of wine. His research focused, mostly, on the aphrodisiac qualities in certain wine aromas—the fragrance of blackberry and musk built into many a Shiraz, the hint of truffle that lingers in a great Bordeaux nose, the sweaty pheromone notes found in top quality Riesling. Dr. Lake discovered that drinking oak-aged Cabernet Sauvignon can perfume the whole body in a cedar and sandalwood scent, released through the skin, he believed, when sexual attraction kicks in.

Though my own “field work” has not been quite so intensive, I’ve managed to compile a great list of sensuous wines guaranteed to stoke fires this Valentine’s Day. Most of these bottles come from small passionate producers, many in faraway lands. The sexiest winemakers, I’ve learned, tend to make the sexiest wines.

At the Dobogó winery in Budapest, Izabella Zwack produces a gorgeous dry mineral white from native Furmint. The Dobogó Furmint 2012 ($20) is a golden-hued beauty with a creamy texture and expressive aromas of tropical fruit. In nearby Croatia, Bruno Trapan has an equally intriguing crisp white from Malvazija, a grape variety of South Istria. Vinified and aged in stainless steel, Trapan’s 2013 Ponente ($23) is rich and full-bodied, with a balance of fruity, herbal and mineral flavors and a lovely scent of white flowers on the finish.

Farther afield, in New Zealand, winemaker Kim Crawford—a sexy gent who left his namesake winery recently to launch a new label—has released the elegant 2012 Loveblock Pinot Noir ($34), a ruby-red wine made from grapes biodynamically farmed in the prime Pinot region of Central Otago. Loveblock delights with strawberry flavors and aromas of violets, dark berries and herbs. From the same region, Crawford’s old winery produced the luscious 2012 Rise and Shine Pinot Noir ($33), with smoky, spicy notes and a feral, gamey finish.

From Argentina—that erotic land of purple wine, red meat and sensual tango—comes Doña Paula’s Estate Malbec ($16), a violet-hued wine hailing from the Uco Valley of Mendoza with soft balanced tannins and scents of ripe blackberries, cherries and spice.

While Malbec and Pinot Noir are often touted as sexy grapes, Grenache should not be overlooked. The 2012 LaFou Els Amelers ($25) is a scintillating Grenache from Spain’s Terra Alta region, with hypnotic aromas of jasmine and apricot and an enveloping mouth-feel.

Closer to home, California has its share of rapturous wines. From the estate of Bill Foley in Santa Barbara County comes the 2012 Foley Estate Pinot Noir, Sta Rita Hills ($40), a delicate, flirty wine with enchanting accents of dark plum, raspberry and pepper. The 2011 Chalk Hill Estate Red ($70) is another Golden State scorcher, a big bold, Napa red blend, featuring Malbec, Cabernet and three other red grapes. The result is an enticing stew of plum, oak and chocolate notes that will haunt you and seep out your pores—full proof of Dr. Lake’s hypothesis. 

A version of this article appeared in the February 2015 issue of Connecticut Cottages & Gardens with the headline: Sensual Wines That Entice