Wine and Romance: A Timeless Love Affair
Throughout history, the intertwining of wine and romance has been a subject of fascination.
It’s not hard to see the allure. It just feels right to cap off a special date with a beverage that complements your meal and tells a story all its own, inciting deeper conversation and connection with loved ones.
As we head into the Lake Chelan Wine Valley’s Red Wine & Chocolate month, we’re inspired to explore the origins of wine and romance. When did this love affair come to be, and how has it endured through the ages?
Let’s find out!
Ancient Times: Gods, Wine, and Love
In ancient civilizations, wine was more than a beverage; it symbolized divine ecstasy and passion. This was especially apparent in Greek and Roman mythology via their respective gods of wine, Dionysus and Bacchus.
Dionysus, often hailed as the ancient Greek god of wine, ecstasy, and festivity, holds a unique and multifaceted position in Greek mythology.
Central to Dionysus’s mythos is his association with wine and the vine. He is credited with discovering grapevine cultivation and creating wine, bringing the joy and liberation accompanying its consumption to humanity.
Dionysus’s connection to love and romance, though less direct than that of Aphrodite, the goddess of love, is significant.
His festivals, known as Dionysia, were characterized by uninhibited revelry, where social norms were often cast aside in favor of free expression of emotions and desires. The essence of Dionysian celebrations was the blurring of boundaries, be they social or psychological, fostering an environment where romantic connections could flourish outside the usual constraints of society.
In art and literature, Dionysus is frequently depicted as a figure of sensuality and allure, embodying the liberating and sometimes chaotic nature of love and desire. Through his patronage of wine and the ecstatic celebrations in his honor, Dionysus became a symbol of the intoxicating and transformative power of love.
Bacchus, the Roman god of wine, agriculture, and fertility, is essentially the Roman counterpart to Dionysus.
His origins and attributes in Roman mythology parallel those of Dionysus, but with distinct Roman influences and interpretations. Bacchus was celebrated for introducing the cultivation of grapes and the art of winemaking to humanity, revolutionizing agricultural practices and social and religious customs in ancient Rome.
Bacchus’s association with wine was deeply symbolic in Roman culture. Wine was not merely a beverage but a conduit for freedom, ecstasy, and even divine communion.
The festivals dedicated to Bacchus, known as Bacchanalia, were infamous for their hedonistic and ecstatic nature.
Initially, these festivals were for women only and were held in secret, focusing on fertility rites and the invocation of Bacchus’s divine presence. Over time, these celebrations became more inclusive and public, known for their unrestrained merrymaking, where wine flowed freely, loosening social restrictions and inhibitions.
Wine Through The Ages
For much of recorded human history, wine has been center-stage as the romantic drink of choice. Here’s how it’s influenced culture in recent history.
Medieval and Renaissance Romance
During these periods, wine remained central in romantic and courtship rituals. It was a staple at feasts and celebrations, often symbolizing wealth and status crucial in marriage arrangements.
This era also saw the popularity of love potions and aphrodisiacs, frequently featuring wine as a key ingredient.
The Era of Elegance: 17th and 18th Centuries
As the concept of romantic love evolved, so did the role of wine. It began to symbolize intimate moments between couples, especially during dinners and private gatherings. The emergence of Champagne as a luxury symbol further entrenched wine’s romantic connotations among the elite.
Romanticism and Wine: 19th to Early 20th Century
The Romantic movement’s emphasis on emotion and individual experience solidified wine’s link to love. It became a medium to express depth of feeling, often associated with the bohemian lifestyle and social gatherings, further tying it to romantic ideals.
Wine in the Modern Era: A Symbol of Love
Today, wine is a staple in romantic settings. Candlelit dinners, weddings, and anniversaries are almost unimaginable without it. The rise of wine tourism, with couples flocking to vineyards for unique tasting experiences, underscores the enduring bond between wine and romance.
Lake Chelan AVA Wines For Valentine’s Day
When exploring the most “romantic” wine choices in Lake Chelan, it’s hard to choose just one! Fortunately, the Lake Chelan AVA lends itself beautifully to several varietals ideal for date night.
Here are three Lake Chelan varietals to include at your Valentine’s Day dinner.
Syrah is one of the most prolific grapes in the Lake Chelan growing region, accounting for 47 acres of plantings.
Cool climate Syrah is known for its more elegant profile, full of tantalizing aromatics, higher acidity, and often a hint of pepper. It’s a tremendous food-pairing wine, perfect for a special steak dinner on the town or a candlelit meal at home.
Berry-forward and bursting with flavor, Lake Chelan Merlot is a beautiful addition to any romantic meal.
Merlot is highly versatile, and production styles will impact the final flavor profile. Expect anything from fruity and easy-going to full-bodied and sophisticated. Either way, you’re guaranteed a tasting experience to spark some intrigue.
Commonly overshadowed by popular red wines such as Cab Sauv, Cabernet Franc is a one-of-a-kind varietal that’s as beautifully blended as it is a stand-alone.
Robust and aromatic, Cabernet Franc commonly exhibits bell pepper on the nose with notes of herbs, spices, and violets characteristic of the cooler Lake Chelan growing climate.
Lake Chelan Cab Franc is the perfect date night wine with its lively acidity and herbaceous profile.
Spark Some Romance During Red Wine & Chocolate
Red Wine & Chocolate takes place throughout February, with specialty chocolate pairings during the second and third weekends. It’s the prime celebration of romance and wine in the Lake Chelan Wine Valley.
Enjoy specialty chocolate and wine pairings, curated flights and cheese bites, live music, art shows, and amazing wine dinners with your Valentine when you visit Lake Chelan during the month of February.
After all, history has repeatedly proven there’s no better way to connect with a loved one than imbibing in the most ancient and universally adored beverage — wine!