Whether you’re drinking on Valentine’s Day this year in celebration or in sorrow, choose a red blend for something that’s not only tasty and ideal with chocolate but also trendy.

Red blends are hot right now (dollar sales jumped 48 percent in the last year, according to market research company Symphony IRI Group) because they’re more fruit-forward, says Chris Huels, director of marketing for Simply Naked Wines. “Blends tend to be smoother, more balanced, a bit sweeter—but not overly sweet—and often have more pronounced fruit flavors than single-varietal wines, so they appeal to casual wine drinkers,” he says. And they’re also a nice change from the everyday varietals for regular wine consumers.

These four bottles are great for your V-Day dinner, or save them for dessert since red blends are the perfect pairing for anything chocolate—cake, mousse, cookies, you name it! “There’s a little chocolate note to many reds,” Huels says, “so they meld really well with dark chocolate.” Handy for anyone “celebrating” (okay, trying to forget about) the holiday with a sweet treat for one.

Note: Suggested retail prices are given for each; prices vary nationwide.

 

2010 Black Box Sweet Red Blend ($24.99 for 3 liters, blackboxwines.com)
Taste: Proving that boxed wine is not all two-buck-chuck, this blend is almost half California cabernet sauvignon, hence the hearty, rich flavors of ripe blueberry and sweet chocolate.
Pair with: Grilled steak or pork. “The wine’s sweet notes complement the savory, smoky flavors from the grill,” Huels says.

RELATED: Whip up this healthy chocolate pudding for an easy Valentine’s Day dessert.

 2009 Cupcake Vineyards Red Velvet ($13.99, cupcakevineyards.com)
Taste: This mix of zin, merlot, and cab with a touch of petite sirah is “over the top,” says Adam Richardson, head winemaker at Cupcake Vineyards. There’s lots of rich, ripe blackberry and cherry; sweet, soft, creamy oak; and chocolate, plus a hint of mocha.
Pair with: Chicken with a sticky barbecue glaze—even better if it’s spicy Hoisin. The vino’s fullness and intensity match the complex flavors of the sauce.
 2011 Simply Naked Undressed Red ($9.99, simplynakedwines.com)
Taste: Blackberry jam and cherry dominate since this has a large amount of merlot and syrah. And all Simply Naked wines are unoaked (they’re fermented in 100-percent stainless steel), so the fruits’ true flavors really shine through, Huels says.
Pair with: Anything bursting with flavors (think gumbo), as the smooth fruit in the wine will help bring out spicy notes in whatever you’re eating.

RELATED: Heat things up tonight—in the kitchen! Prepare one of these spicy dishes using the tastiest hot sauces from around the world.

 2009 Thorny Rose Red Blend ($11, thornyrosewines.com)
Taste: Pour a glass of this approachable, lush red, and you’ll notice black cherry, toasty vanilla oak, and spice aromas. Take a sip for cherry and cocoa, followed by a rich, creamy finish, says Co Dinn, winemaker for Thorny Rose.
Pair with: Although it also goes with roast chicken or grilled steak, make dinner easy and feed each other dried fruit and cheese, such as aged gouda, Manchego, or brie, or—if you like more strongly flavored varieties—gorgonzola or stilton. The creamy, savory aspects of cheese call for a rich, robust wine like this blend.

 

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