If you are single and fancy taking a flight to New York, Alessandra Rotondi can teach you a thing or two about seduction and wine. You might think that the time-sanctioned techniques linking alcohol and Ugandan activities are pretty simple (quantity or, if it’s Champagne, quality), but Alessandra disagrees.
“We can,” she whispers on her website (www.wineseduction.com), “turn a wine lover into a Wine Seduction expert in just one night. It could be you.” Crikey!
Attend one of her tastings and you’ll discover why wine is “the perfect weapon of mass seduction”, how to use wine “for spice (sic) up a romantic relationship or creating a sexy new one” and even “daring moves and situation (sic, again) you can create using wines”. It certainly beats a sausage roll and a pint of best.
Wine and seduction appear to be in vogue in the United States. One winery in the Napa Valley, O’Brien Estate, sells an Attraction Chardonnay, a Flirtation rosé and, best of all, a Seduction red, tastefully packaged in a diaphanous gift bag for Valentine’s Day. All you’ve got to do is part with $45.
The Americans are more po-faced about seduction than the Aussies. In the early 1980s, the Wolf Blass winery in the Barossa launched a pseudo-French bubbly called René Pogel. Punters assumed it had some Gallic heritage — a winemaker who’d moved to South Australia from Champagne, perhaps — but the brand name was a joke. Spelled backwards, René’s name was considerably less romantic in English.
What do the French think? I once interviewed the wine producer, pin-up and ex-footballer David Ginola, a man who personifies French charm and good looks (the bastard), and asked him about his perfect seduction wine. I thought he’d go for Champagne or, given that he makes one in Provence, a rosé, but he nominated a sweet, sticky dessert wine from Alsace called Sélection de Grains Nobles. I didn’t have the nerve to ask what he does with it.
A wine writer friend used to employ a very different technique when he was single. Someone once told him that the closest smell to male pheromones in the wine world was a Pinot Noir with a bit of age, so he used to dab a little behind his ears before he went out on a date. He claims it worked, although it may be significant that his wife is teetotal and prefers Coca-Cola to Pinot Noir.
And what about those of us who are married or in long-term relationships? There’s an argument that says that any wine tastes good if you share it with someone you love, but this is tosh. Even my wife’s company couldn’t improve an insipid Italian Pinot Grigio or a confected Californian White Zinfandel. No sir. On this, the most romantic day of the year (or so the greetings card companies tell us), open something special, especially if you’re at home and don’t have to pay restaurant mark-ups.
Is one wine more romantic than another? The conventional wisdom, which being conventional lacks imagination, is that you should say it with something bubbly or pink. Two wines that would seduce my palate are the light, creamy, all-Chardonnay 2004 Champagne Larmandier Bernier Extra Brut (£55, 12%, Berry Brothers, www.bbr.com) and the bone-dry, deliciously complex 2008 Sancerre Rosé, La Moussière, Alphonse Mellot (£14.29, 13%, selected branches of Sainsbury’s). For those of you who are more adventurous and want to check out the pheromone content of Pinot Noir, I recommend the savoury, perfumed 2007 Morgan Twelve Clones, Santa Lucia Highlands (£19.99, 14%, www.waitrosewine.com), while the David Ginola fans among you might like to experiment with the gloriously hedonistic 1989 Trimbach Sélection de Grains Nobles Gewürztaminer, Alsace (£140, 13%, Swig, 0800 272 272). Otherwise, there’s always New York.
Originally published in The Observer