The Blind Internet Date: There’s no shame in using the interwebs to cast a wide romantic net, but there can be a vast gulf between the virtual and the real. In case you’ll need to grab the check and run, get something fresh and easily knocked down. Pétillant naturel-an increasingly popular category of effervescent sparkler-provides the ideal exit strategy. Unlike your wasted evening, you won’t regret a bottle of Pierre Bornard “Tant-Mieux” Pétillant-Naturel, a refreshingly off-dry wash of cinnamon and spice.
The One You Want to Impress: It’s an indelible cliché, but nothing impresses like bubbles, and no bubbly compares to bona fide Champagne. But anyone with a black card can order Cristal. Instead, display your discernment with a rare estate-bottled “grower Champagne,” produced by small farmers, like the NV Egly-Ouriet Brut “Tradition” Grand Cru. If Dom Pérignon is an impersonal suite at the Hyatt, this is a weekend escape at a quaint B&B.
The One You Can’t Impress: Give yourself a break and drink whatever you please. Heck, order a beer if it makes you happy.
The Sudden Nightmare: Things have taken a turn for the worse, and your date has spent the last hour rambling about Scientology. Nothing drowns out the chatter like a big, robust Cabernet. And for the sake of novelty (since your date isn’t offering much in that department), why not bypass Napa and try an example from Washington State, such as the 2011 Januik Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon? Think of it as liquid earplugs.