All you need is love, and wine

Ah, l’amour. In the darkest days of winter, is there nothing more welcome than the warmth of love that Valentine’s Day brings? That, plus those ah-mazing chocolate-dipped strawberries that Godiva employees used to hold outside the store back when we could safely go to malls, paired with a delectable bottle of rosé, a roaring fire, and some Barry White (or, I don’t know, who do the kids listen to these days, Sam Smith?).

A toast to love! (Raised wine glasses)
A toast to love! 

Yes, the day of love is almost upon us, and if there was ever a time when we needed to feel and spread the love, it has to be now. Let’s not dwell on the specific reasons, but after everything we’ve been through over the past year, it feels absolutely appropriate and necessary to celebrate our loved ones—and to celebrate love itself, which I have to believe is winning.

Here at Sip Wines, we’ve taken the holiday very much to heart (see what I did there) and want to help you do the same, because (at the risk of sounding cheesy) love is our foundation. I’m not just talking about a love of wine (although obviously there’s that); much more importantly, love is what brought each and every one of our winery partners to wine, love is what helped them persevere in the face of challenges, and love is what imbues each bottle of wine they produce to share with you. We hope you’ll share a little piece of that love with us, by bringing home a bottle or two to share with your own loved ones—or hey, don’t share with anyone, we certainly don’t judge!

Actually, that raises a good point. Why do we fixate so much on romantic love on Valentine’s Day, when there are so many other types of love that we can, and should, celebrate? I’m never one to turn down a chance to learn; after all, A DAY WITHOUT LEARNING IS A DAY WASTED. So, let’s learn!

We owe it all to our feathered friends

DID YOU KNOW: The most likely origin of today’s romantic celebration of Valentine’s Day goes back to… birds?

Bird with smiling expression saying "who, me?"
Who, me? 

(I most certainly did not know that, and if I had, it probably would have changed my view of the holiday a long time ago. I really don’t like birds, for all kinds of reasons. Except for this one parrot-ish bird that my husband and I stumbled across in a park in a small town in Cinque Terre who hung out in this fancy cage and when you approached him, he looked at you and said, “Ciao.” That bird was dope. I wish I had a picture of him.)

Ok, that’s actually kind of an oversimplification for shock and awe introductory purposes, although birds are definitely involved in the history of modern Valentine’s Day. In doing my research, here’s what surprised me even more:

  1. Valentine’s Day as a celebration of romantic love almost definitely had nothing to do with St. Valentine.
  2. Historians don’t even know for sure which St. Valentine the holiday might refer to, because there were at least two, both who were martyred in very unpleasant ways.
  3. There’s another theory about a Christian desire to supplant a much older Roman holiday of “Lupercalia,” which was supposedly very sexy and involved a lot of random hooking up. Except all evidence suggest that Lupercalia was focused much more on two naked Roman priests who removed the skin from sacrificial goats and—I kid (HAHA) you not—ran around slapping women with pieces of goat skin to promote fertility. Those Romans really knew how to party.

Back to the birds. Turns out, the first actual, documented connection between Valentine’s Day and love came straight from the mind of Geoffrey Chaucer, back in the late 1370s-ish, and pure poetry it is (I guess?):

For this was on Seynt Valentynes day,
Whan every foul cometh ther to chese his make…

Translation: “For this was on Saint Valentine’s Day, when every bird comes there to choose his mate.”

No clue what the whole poem is about. It’s long and I didn’t feel like reading it.  If you're curious, here it is. The point is, Chaucer was the first one to claim, in writing, that Valentine’s Day has anything to do with romance—bird romance, to be more precise, but I guess that was all the inspiration those Middle Ages folks needed because within a few decades it was all the rage for members of the nobility to send “Valentines” to the objects of their affection. A handful of centuries later, and here we are, arguing with a first grader about whether her classmates would prefer “Moana” or “The Descendants” Valentines. (Spoiler alert: Descendants won.)

If we say hello to the elephant in the room, maybe he’ll go away

I certainly don’t want to go negative in a blog that’s all about celebrating love, but I feel it would come across as either naïve, obtuse, or some combination thereof to act like a day dedicated to romance is sunshine and rainbows for everyone. Didn’t we all experience the pain of sitting in 7th grade math class when the carnation/candy/whatever cruel delivery arrived for whichever kids in the class were either a) lucky enough to have someone crushing on them, b) popular enough that other kids sent them stuff in the hopes of winning favor, and/or c) smart enough to send themselves stuff to seem like a and/or b were true—and watching it all unfold with bated breath in the hopes that a delivery would come to our desks? And then it didn’t, which meant that our current crushes didn’t return our affections because obviously the only way to express it would be to spend $1 on a red carnation on one day of the year and the pain of all of it was EXCRUCIATING.

Never forget.  

Learning to love the Day of Love: A Valentine’s Day Proposal

It actually makes sense that Valentine’s Day as a celebration purely of romantic love would be polarizing. Because damn, out of all the forms of love out there, romantic has got to be one of the most fickle (second only to my six year old’s current favorite food, because she might LOVE pizza on Thursdays at school but GOD FORBID you order pizza on Friday night at home because then how dare you suggest that pizza is even edible). There are so many other types of love out there, and they can be even more fulfilling, deep, and lasting: love for children, parents, siblings, friends, pets, places, even professions… each of these types of love can be a completely different experience, but no less powerful. Shouldn’t we celebrate all of them on the day of love?

The Sip Wines blogger's dog Toby wearing a heart headband
The Sip Wines blogger's first fur baby Toby, sharing the love

So yeah, that’s my proposal. Let’s stop thinking about Valentine’s Day in the purely romantic context and start seeing it for what it should be: a recognition of how lucky we are to have love in our lives, whatever form it may take.

An expression of love can be both a labor and a celebration… like wine

Here’s the most important thing I’ve learned as the Sip Wines blogger: wine MATTERS, in a lot of ways and to a lot of people. I worry that because I’m communicating with you, the reader, purely via writing, I can’t properly express that realization with the sincerity I intend. After all, I’m sure that for most people, wine is just something you drink to relax, or something you drink over dinner with friends, or hey, something to get you drunk (again, no judgment). Some people take it more seriously than others, of course. But I have to admit, it wasn’t until I started speaking with the Sip Wines winery partners that I fully began to appreciate how much MORE wine is.

An artifact of ancient history. A manifestation of different cultures. One of the OG ways to party. An actual Greek/Roman deity. A safe beverage when water wasn’t. A reflection of climate, land, geography. A representation of nature and life. A livelihood for families. A preservation of old ways and an embrace of new. A beautiful hybrid of tradition and innovation.  An embodiment of our most meaningful moments in life.

Tableau of wine with red flowers

See what I mean?

Speaking with our Sip Wines winery partners, I’ve come to understand that this is how they see wine. This is what it means to them, this is what they want wine to mean for you—and this is what their wines represent. And because their wine is all of these things, it’s entirely appropriate that we understand it as a way of celebrating not only the special and important moments in our lives, but even more broadly as a way of celebrating the love in our lives, in whatever form it may take.

This Valentine’s Day, we hope you’ll join Sip Wines and all of our amazing winery partners in a celebration of all love, however it may come to you. We invite you to bring a little bit more love into your homes and your lives through some of our incredible wines in whatever expression of love that takes: as a gift for someone else, as a gift for yourself, as something to share with loved ones or to mark a special moment. Because I know this to be true: you will love this wine.

Brian and Jennifer, founders and owners of Sip Wines partner Waits Mast winery
Brian and Jennifer, founders and owners of Sip Wines partner Waits Mast winery

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