Valentine’s Day coincides with the start of the Chinese New Year this
year which may explain why so many red wines have been fetching
astronomical prices at recent auctions.
Both Valentine’s Day and Chinese New Year celebrations involve giving gifts and red is an especially auspicious color in Chinese tradition.
Auction houses sold more than US$17 million in wines in January, mostly top growth Bordeaux and Burgundies. Many of the buyers were from Asia.
At Sotheby’s Hong Kong auction, a six-liter bottle of 1982 Chateau Lafite fetched nearly US$47,000. At Acker Merrall & Condit’s two-day auction in the same city a dozen bottles of 1982 Chateau Petrus sold for US$85,400, or about double its pre-sale estimate.
John Kapon, Acker’s president, said he saw “strong participation by Hong Kong, mainland and Taiwanese buyers.”
In Chicago, Hart Davis Hart’s online auction sold six magnums of the 1982 Petrus for US$71,700. or more than double its pre-sale high estimate. Bidders were predominantly from the United States but also from China, Singapore and South Korea.
“Red is the color of happiness in Chinese culture and red is also the shade of Valentine’s Day,” said Belinda Chang, sommelier at The Modern, the acclaimed restaurant adjacent to the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
“The Chinese are indeed drinking more wine than ever and coming strong in the Bordeaux market,” she added.
Her wine for Valentine’s Day is made from a classic Bordeaux varietal, Cabernet Franc.
“It is a grape that inspires legendary Right Bank Bordeaux like Chateau Cheval Blanc and it is also one of my favorite go-to wines,” she said.
Chang suggested Robert Sinskey’s Vandal Vineyard Cabernet Franc from Carneros, California.
“Perfect with my Chinese New Year/Valentine’s Day Dinner this year,” she said in an email.
Leslie Sbrocco, the author of Wine for Women and The Simple and Savvy Wine Guide, admitted to liking anything pink and bubbly.
“Rose Champagne, any kind of Cava or Prosecco or a rose from Ferrari or Rosa Regale,’ she said, rattling off a few sparkling wines.
“I still think in these times especially for Valentine’s Day value is as important. And you can be romantic and do it inexpensively,” she said and suggested Codorniu Cava Pinot Noir.
Among her favorite Valentine gifts to give are pink cans of Sophia Blanc de Blanc “with a straw and a small box of chocolates and everyone is happy.”
Pommery POP Champagne from France, Domaine Chandon from California and Mionetto Prosecco from Italy are also sold in the 187ml size.