It’s spring fling season and hopefully you’re all blooming with romantic possibility along with the cherry blossoms (which, I might add, make for a charming backdrop to a picnic date complete with a bottle of Les Domaines Ott Côtes de Provence rosé).

As seasoned JDaters® already know, there are many steps to the process of finding love online. To get from the initial spark to a first date—let alone a second, third or fourth—is quite the enterprise. 

As a sommelier, my job is to choose the perfect wine for every scenario, be it a rare steak au poivre (Vignai da Duline Schiopettino, 2009 or Catherine e Pierre Breton Franc de Pied 2009) or a nervous first date with someone you’ve been emailing for weeks (see below).

But let’s start at the very beginning.

Filtering through hundreds of potential mates is daunting, and your chances are only as good as your mind is open. It’s no easy chore to express oneself in the space of a few words and pictures.  In order for the big picture to come into focus you’ll have to widen your glance and make room for possibility.

Wine is an optimal cure for dismantling inhibitions, so sit back and pour yourself a glass while you peruse. I suggest something sparkling. It’s festive and casts an optimistic shade on any situation (No one drinks bubbles at a funeral, right?). 

No need to break out the big guns. Save the Champagne for a romantic night with a partner. When you’re drinking solo, opt for Prosecco. It won’t break the bank, and if you don’t finish the bottle it’s no great tragedy. One of my favorites is Le Colture

Prosecco Cartizze, NV. It has round fruity and floral aromas and is bubbly and pleasantly dry.  Bartenura Prosecco is also good and dry, and it’s Kosher.  Something more along the lines of Champagne styling is Villa Rinaldi “Gran Cuvee Bianca” Metodo Classico Brut 2005. It’s a dry spumante made with Chardonnay and oak aged in for 18 months so you get those toasty aromas.

After a few glasses you ought to have found a few favorites and (gasp!) even made the first move with a friendly note.

Repeat the process when responding to email. If you don’t feel ready to give that flirt a chance, have another glass of wine, imagine you were set-up by friends or met at a bar, take a deep breath, and respond!

The first date is a delicate scenario. Whether you’re super excited (you’ve been emailing for weeks!) or simply feeling industrious (you win some and you lose some, but either way you’ve got to play) a little pre-gaming doesn’t hurt. A glass of the aforementioned bubbly will do, or perhaps one glass of something nice, white, and light just to slightly calm your nerves. Un-oaked Chardonnay from California, France or Italy (Colli Vincentini) or a sprightly Sauvignon Blanc (Chamarré Sauvignon Blanc 2008) will do the trick.  Relax and vow to enjoy yourself. If the date goes well, spectacular! If not, well, look on the bright side: you’ve narrowed your search definitively.

Once your date arrives and you’re opting for wine, let the decision be a democratic one if possible, while veering him or her in your direction. This takes savvy and courage and it won’t happen on the first try. You might have read my earlier piece (“First Date Wines”). If not, check it out for guidelines by restaurant and scenario.

In more general terms, here are some quick tips.

-You’ve been waiting forever for this date and now that you’re finally seated across the table, he or she is everything you hoped for:

 A delicate red. Burgundy, Pinot Nero, Nero D’Avola, or for the sophisticated, adventurous palate (and assuming you’re at a place with a lengthy list) Schiava or Fumin. These red wines will relax you just enough without putting you to sleep. Look for delicate but complex aromas: Think cherries, wood berries, flower stems, and spice.

-If you’re feeling less than inspired once you have a seat, opt for white. Something with enough body to take the edge off, but nothing that will blind your reason or blur your eyesight. Vermentino is a good choice. I love Bisson Golfo del Tigullio DOC Vermentino “Vignaerta” 2007 or Cantina Lunae. Also try a rich white Burgundy or a New World Torrontés (Argentina makes some interesting ones).

Following your first date, things can go a number of ways. Keep yourself calm and collected while waiting for him or her to call again. Côtes du Rhône blends are ideal as they’re just swarthy enough to loosen up your legs, but if enjoyed in relative moderation, won’t knock you off your feet. This way, when the call does come you’ll be ready. And if it doesn’t, you can still finish off the bottle and make it into work the next day.

If the date did not go as planned and you find yourself dealing with an over-zealous admirer, steer clear from the wine rack and make that call (or text, or email) thoughtful and to-the-point.  Then, once it’s over, relax with a glass of whatever you love and start fresh.

Annie Shapero is the Founder/CEO of DiVino wine events planning and wine consulting, currently operating in New York City.
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