Adventures with Weird Wine Grapes

There are 1,368 varieties covered in Master of Wine Jancis Robinson's Wine Grapes. Bet you can't try them all.

Ruchè: Give Your Valentine Roses and Drink Them, Too

Note from the author: There are 1,368 varieties covered in Wine Grapes by MW Jancis Robinson, MW Julia Harding, and Dr. Jose Vouillamoz. Bet you can't try them all.

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Ruchè date night: Stevie Stacionis with her husband, Josiah Baldivino, and their dog, Napoleon. [Photograph: Stevie Stacionis]

A while back, I mentioned having met my 'sexy bartender boyfriend' at my old waitressing job.

Seven years later, the sexy bartender and I got married. Excuse the bragging, but Josiah is, quite seriously, the man of my dreams. And so with Valentine's Day looming, I thought I'd tell you about one of our most perfect recent dates and suggest to you one of the most perfect date wines.

Josiah and I have a tendency to go. We don't know what it means to sit still. In a new city, we must explore everything. We are especially predisposed to dining out and drinking our way around town. We are those people who have to try the latest and greatest—it's like a compulsion.

But if you're going to keep a relationship interesting for seven months, seven years, seven decades, you've got to switch things up every now and then. Which is why one of our best recent date nights involved driving to LA, then proceeding to cancel our impossible-to-obtain dinner reservations in order to stay inside a nondescript hotel room all night.

We ordered in not-new-or-novel Italian food: Caesar salad, sausage pizza, and spaghetti with marinara sauce. We donned our hotel robes and cued up The Five-Year Engagement on TV. We ate with our fingers, wiped them on the robes (sorry, housekeeping), and drank our wine out of flimsy plastic cups from the bathroom. It was utterly glorious.

And the wine, even out of plastic cups, was perfect: 2010 Dacapo Ruchè di Castagnole Monferrato Majoli. Wine Grapes clues you into the Ruchè grape's date-worthiness: "rare, perfumed red wine grape [...whose] wines tend to be headily scented, often with aromas of roses." In other words, you can give your V-Day bouquet, and you can drink it too! Not to mention, with only 114 acres of Ruchè planted in Italy (the only country the grape is found in), you're showing your love and devotion with something much rarer than long stems, chocolate truffles, or charm bracelets.

The Dacapo was, in fact, rose-scented, as well as round and soft with blackberry and black plum flavors. It had a peppery kick, too—the perfect mouthful after a bite of sausage pizza. If you're enjoying it on a hotel bed, may I recommend first padding down to the ice machine and creating a quick ice bath for the bottle? Ten minutes' chilling, and Ruchè's light-body/dark-flavor structure seems to stand up better.

Oh, and on your way back to the room, don't forget to put up the Do Not Disturb sign. Wink, wink.

2010 Dacapo Ruchè di Castagnole Monferrato Majoli
The Grape: Ruchè
The Region: Monferrato (Piedmont), Italy
Retail Price: $20
The Importer: Acid Inc.

About the Author: Stevie Stacionis is a wine writer and Certified Sommelier based in San Francisco. She's currently drinking her way through the 1,368 varieties included in Wine Grapes. Follow her on Twitter @StevieStacionis and check out her snobbery-free wine videos at A Drinks With Friends TV.

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