According to Elizabethan playwright (and noted tippler) Ben Jonson, "Wine is the milk of Venus." Whether your goal is to loosen up a shy date or impress your one true love, there's no denying that a bottle of wine makes a happy Valentine's Day. Here are five ways to maximize the romance in your pour.
- Be Poetic - Treat a bookish sweetheart to the wine Romeo and Juliet would have sipped: Their Italian hometown of Verona is surrounded by vineyards producing the medium-bodied, fruity red Valpolicella, the rich and concentrated red Amarone, and the light white Soave. All would be great with a romantic dinner.
- Go Vintage - Find a bottle from a great year in your relationship, the year you met, were married, or celebrated a big anniversary. If classic ageworthy wines like Bordeaux, Cabernet, Rioja, or Riesling are too expensive, look for fortified wines like vintage Port or Madeira, which often cost less than other wines their age.
- Match that Chocolate - Go beyond the basics by pairing bittersweet and dark chocolates with Banyuls, Bordeaux, Zinfandel, or Tawny Port, milk chocolate with Tokaji or Muscat, and white chocolate with Champagne or Riesling. Salty caramels go great with Oloroso Sherry.
- Toast to Love - Whether you splurge on a classic Rosé Champagne like Ruinart or pick up a fun, lightly sweet Moscato d'Asti, bubbly is always festive before a special meal. Just remember, if you're doing the old ring-in-the-glass trick, be sure to actually propose before your date chokes on a carat.
- Perfect Pairing - Give a bottle from a place you visited together along with a photo from the trip...or present your valentine with a glass and a pair of plane tickets for a future trip. (Husband, if you're reading this, how about a trip to Spain and a bottle of Priorat?)
"On the Bottle" is a column about wine and spirits appearing every Friday on the Martha Stewart Living Radio blog. Email your boozy questions and wine quandries to firstname.lastname@example.org and they'll be answered in an upcoming post.