Now that Valentine’s Day is over, I thought this would be a good time for a column on wine and romance. I know what you’re thinking: “Why now? I don’t have to do anything romantic for another 11 months!”
But that’s where you’re wrong. In fact, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that February 14 is the worst possible day for romance.
- The romance is expected, not spontaneous. Wouldn’t it mean a lot more to do something nice for your sweetie on a random Tuesday night in, say, March? (Bonus: If you go to a restaurant, you’ll get better service and you won’t have to eat whatever’s on the mandatory “set menu”!)
- It’s too commercial. Is “a hot new cell phone” really the perfect expression of your love? (That’s a rhetorical question.)
- It tends to make “uncoupled” people feel like lepers. “So Barbara, do you have any big plans for Valentine’s Day? Oh, that’s right, nobody loves you!”
(Note to people in Michigan and Ohio: All this goes double for the so-called “holiday” of “Sweetest Day” in October.)
That’s not to say that I don’t like doing romantic things -- I just don’t like being told on which day I’m supposed to do them. And luckily, my husband feels the same way.
The most romantic thing he’s ever done for me -- that anyone has ever done for me -- had nothing whatsoever to do with “going to Jared” or dining in a fancy restaurant. It took place spontaneously, on a warm summer weeknight before we were married. We lived just a few blocks from each other in San Francisco, and I often invited him over to my place for dinner. This time, he invited me. When I arrived, I saw that he’d set up his kitchen table on the sidewalk in front of his apartment building, set with a tablecloth, candles and wine glasses. There he served up a simple-but-tasty roasted chicken with potatoes and a light-bodied red wine. We ate and talked and drank wine at our very-own sidewalk café, as the cable cars rolled past and passengers smiled and waved at us. No amount of foie gras and Roederer Cristal could have made the experience any better.
My point is that an unexpected romantic gesture goes a really long way, and of course, the right wine can make it even more memorable.
Choosing a romantic wine isn’t about cost or cachet, it’s about connection. Sure, you can pick up a $100 bottle of cult Cabernet or vintage Champagne, but wouldn’t it be better to serve a wine that means something to the two of you? Such as:
- A wine from the region where you first met/got engaged/tied the knot/traveled for your honeymoon. (Be sure to point out the connection to your loved one when you present the bottle!)
- A vintage wine or Port from the year you met or got married.
- A special bottle of a style of wine your sweetheart particularly likes. For example, if you know he loves sweet wines, go for a luscious bottle of ice wine or Sauternes, and open it on a Monday night with a perfect slice of plain cheesecake from your favorite neighborhood bakery.
- A higher-end wine that you wouldn’t normally open without a “special occasion” to celebrate. Who cares if you’re only having take-out pizza or backyard burgers for dinner? You shouldn’t need a birthday, anniversary or holiday to justify popping the cork on that special bottle you’ve been saving. The love you share with your partner is occasion enough!
- Something different. Instead of your standard “go-to” producer or variety, try something new! Get adventurous in the bubbly department with a deep-red sparkling Shiraz from Australia or a lightly sweet sparkling Riesling, like the “White Flowers” from Pacific Rim.
No matter which wooing wine you choose, be careful not to drink too much -- otherwise you’ll both fall asleep before the, uh… dessert.
If you put some thought into your selection, the right bottle of wine can help turn any day -- even February 14 -- into a truly romantic occasion.