From the adolescent learning curve of the sweet pink fuzzy stuff to the extravagance of champagne, wine has been the social elixir of romance for as long as history can remember.
On a first date or enjoying the company of your significant other? A glass of shared grenache signifies a time to kick back and relax. It can be the perfect capper to a fine meal or serve as a prelude to intimacy.
So it only makes sense that visiting a winery for a tasting tour is one of the more popular dating choices available. Whether you live near the California coast, B.C.'s Okanagan Valley or in Ohio near Lake Erie, chances are there's a vineyard or an estate within driving distance of your location.
Perhaps, however, you wish to take it a step further, and exercise your inner sommelier in order to impress your date.
In that case, break out the coffee beans, according to Sheila Person, sommelier and restaurant manager of Hillebrand Winery
Restaurant, located on the grounds of the Hillebrand Estates Winery in Niagara-On-The-Lake, Ontario.
When it comes to wine expertise, your sense of smell plays an important role, and coffee is one aroma that clears the sinuses.
"You should also not smoke immediately before the tour or eat or drink anything extremely hot, because you have a chance at burning your tongue and then your taste buds are useless," advises Person.
"A trick we sommeliers use is allergy pills: start taking them a week in advance and it really clears out your sinuses so you can smell more. That's a trade tool more than anything."
Person says you don't have to be so much of an expert that you're able to pinpoint the types of scents infiltrating your nostrils, although you should be able to distinguish the good vintage from the bad.
"You don't need to know that it's green apple versus golden delicious, nor do you need to pull tomato leaf out of your hat," she notes. "Just as long as you know vegetal, fruit, wood. And remember that things don't smell sweet. You can't smell sweet. You can only taste sweet."
And you don't have to worry about necessarily identifying the bad wine -- it kind of announces itself.
"There are certain smells -- rotten eggs, wet cardboard, moldy basement, wet dog," says Person. "You can even get burning tires.
"I had one bottle that when it was opened up, all you could smell in the room was burning tires -- and it was the wine. But bad wine could be due to different cork tastes, the winery itself or something that was in the bottle during the sterilization process."
Not all questionable smells are indicators of spoiled wine.
"Sometimes there's a sulfur smell due to the sulfur dioxide they use to stop the winemaking process," Person explains. "Maybe it was just bottled immediately afterward. So if you smell sulfur, you can usually decant it and it will blow off.
"There are some smells like pig barn and manure that aren't necessarily bad, because winemakers purposefully put it in their wines to get that barnyard smell.
"It's a touchstone for some burgundy wine: Pinot Noir is a common one to have that barnyard effect."
Aside from using the old schnozz, there is the most obvious sense to consider: taste, and particularly food pairings.
Cheese, for instance, goes well with any wine, although certain cheeses are better suited to certain varietals. And some are surprisingly versatile.