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Valentine's Day wine suggestions

Valentine's Day is fast approaching and the aisles of stores are growing increasingly plumper with pink foil-wrapped chocolates, fake, real, and chocolate roses, and teddy bears holding hearts that demand "Be Mine." These are all fine options for a 16-year-old teenager with a crush or a middle-aged businessperson with little patience who's in a hurry. But the bulk of the population can do a little better than this with just as minimal effort: a bottle of wine, alone or as an accompaniment to dinner, jewelry, or other thoughtful token. Not just any bottle, a bottle with a label that exudes emotion, romance, or love.

Judging a bottle by its label is a fun way to pick out a wine. Often, there can be found humorous labels, ironic ones, or ones with very beautiful artwork on them. Even a connoisseur will be drawn to an appealing label; the sense of sight is the first sense that must be attracted to the consumer, long before the sense of smell and taste get their chance.

In the case of Valentine's Day, a group of appropriately themed labels have been selected to make your shopping experience painless and simplified. Following are several Valentine themed bottles.

The first is Alvaro Palacios Camins del Priorat 2007. According to Binny's description, this red is similar to a sexy Pinot Noir, with its silky feel and berry flavors. The label depicts a vintage-style print of a delicate pink flower, perfect for showing your love in a sensitive, loving way. It's a 90-point wine and is $21.99 at Binny's in McHenry.

Next is the less discreet, Naked brand. For many, the gift giving and wine imbibing of Valentine's Day is figurative and literal foreplay to the nitty-gritty of the holiday. Get this point across immediately with the Naked brand, made by Snoqualmie. While the makers there are referring to the organic grapes and "au naturel" processes used to make the wine, the label screams "Naked" and that serves the romance theme just fine here. According to Leslie Sbrocco, author of The Simple & Savvy Wine Guide, the Gewürztraminer is "romance in a glass." For $11 a bottle, that's a cheap date.

"Folie a Deux" is translated as two people, who together share the same fantasies. Of course the French, the language and country of love, have an expression to describe exactly this, and a California wine maker made the notion into a wine. Two people holding hands are frolicking upon the label, perhaps celebrating how delicious the Zinfandel is. Made from some of the oldest vines in Amador County, Napa Valley, and sold at Binny's for $14.99, this is a great deal.

Show the burning fire in your heart with Garnacha de Fuego.  This Spanish grenache is a robust red and full of cherry & pepper flavors.  Not overly sweet or fruity, this wine is basic yet bold.  It's rated 89 points and is only $7.99 at Binny's.  This wine will definitely heat up your night.

If you're proposing marriage this Valentine's Day, perhaps you want to drop a subtle hint before you brandish the ring. Red Diamond Cabernet Sauvignon has cassis, liquorice, leather, and oak flavors, and the label couldn't be any more obvious with its red diamond on a black background. At only $8.99, it can be afforded after the purchase of the white diamond. It can also be found at Binny's.

Finally, if your husband neglects to get you gift you always wanted, or he forgets Valentine's Day altogether, there's always the Mad Housewife Chardonnay that you can buy yourself. The label reflects a perturbed woman in 1950's attire. It has melon and Fuji apple flavors and can be found at Walmart  in Crystal Lake for around $5, where you might also be buying a box of Kleenex and sappy movie.

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