Valentine's Day WineValentine’s Day – it’s a Holiday unlike any other. The traditional autumn and winter Holidays of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years revolve around lots of family, friends, food, and parties. The summer Holidays of Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day bring visions of parties, picnics, BBQ, and swimming.

Valentine’s Day is unique though. It’s usually not about large groups. It’s meant for two. It’s about romance and rediscovering each other. On Valentine’s Day, three or more is truly a crowd (unless you are into that sort of thing) but like all the other Holidays, a great Valentine’s Day often involves a carefully prepared meal – perhaps a candlelit dinner or romantic picnic.

But have you ever asked yourself, “What wines pair best with food for Valentine’s Day?” Pairing wine with a Valentine’s Day meal offers a different challenge than the other Holidays. Large groups of people go through large amounts of wine (at least at my house they do) so you can bring out an array of wines to match each course. An intimate dinner for two usually won’t involve three or four bottles though, so planning a Valentine’s day meal with wine to accompany it can be tricky.

That’s why we’re here to help!

Valentine’s Dinner Wine and Meal Pairing Rules

Rule Number 1: Plan your meal carefully.  “All Of The Foods You Choose Should Go With The Wine You Choose.” In other words, picking an appetizer that goes best with Pinot Grigio but a main course that really needs a heavy Cabernet Sauvignon is a problem unless; 1) You plan your meal around various wines because you practice proper wine preserving techniques and any leftovers will still be good several days later or, 2) you and your date just drink three or four bottles between the two of you and see what happens.

Rule Number 2: If you frequent our blog, you’ve seen this one before and you’ll see it again. “Don’t ever serve a food sweeter than wine you are drinking.”  There is a litany of reasons why not to do this but just take our advice and don’t do it.

Rule Number 3: Ensure that both of you (or neither of you) eats food from the “That Smells Revolting But It’s OK If We Both Eat It” list. At the top – garlic of course. Garlic smells and tastes wonderful on the plate but sometime between the last bite of dinner and bedtime, garlic undergoes an ugly transformation, and what once was appealing quickly takes on the bouquet of a 10-year-old sneaker. I cook with a lot of garlic and thankfully Karen likes it nearly as much as I do so this rule is rarely a problem. Vampires in the South Bay area – not if I am cooking!

Rule Number 4: Avoid foods that are on the “If You Eat That, I’m Not Getting Any Where Near You” list. Why is this on a post about pairing wine and food? Meals on Valentine’s Day often involve the mysteries of aphrodisiacs. For instance, Karen loves smoked Oysters. While I’m all for the thought of an aphrodisiac (or ten) being involved in the meal, I can’t stand the smell of smoked oysters which bring to mind an Armenian marathon runner’s armpit who hasn’t showered for about 6 weeks (or so I would imagine). They’re revolting. Karen feels the same way about any kind of Salami or cured sausage. She would rather fast for days than eat a peace of Salami.

To save you time, has frequented a number of sites to find the most frequently mentioned aphrodisiacs to incorporate into your Valentine meal with wine. I claimed this was research for the blog post but Karen looked unconvinced. In no particular order, the ones most commonly mentioned are:

Oysters Almonds Walnuts
Basil Garlic Pine Nuts
Asparagus Avacados Chili Peppers
Salmon Bananas Figs
Chocolate Vanilla Honey

… And last but not least – RED WINE!

Red Wine HeartTruth be told, I had to visit a large number of domains until I found one that listed wine as an aphrodisiac, which is how I would find myself on the “Cosmopolitan Magazine” site. However, once there it’s amazing how much I had the opportunity to learn stuff about guys that I never really wanted to know. I’m a guy so I’d like to think I’m kind of an expert on the matter according to Cosmo, I‘m clueless. Go figure. It was actually kind of creepy.

Suggested Wine and Food Pairings for Valentine’s Day

So we’ve offered advice on how to plan your own meal, what foods might best contribute to the mood, but we haven’t actually touched on pairing wine for a Valentine’s Day meal. With that in mind, we humbly suggest the following easy to cook meal designed to tantalize your taste buds, pair great with wine, and if you believe in the power of aphrodisiacs, get the hormones raging!

 AppetizersBaked Oysters

Despite earlier objections, we’d recommend starting with a dish of oysters. It’s your choice though of going with raw oysters (if you like eating something with the same consistency as snot – not hard to tell how I feel about them is it?), or baked oysters if you’d prefer a more sane option.

Main Course

After you’ve worked your way through the appetizer, prepare for a more triumphant main course. Start with salmon served with a basil pesto, plated with a roasted asparagus with chili oil (see how we’re working all those aphrodisiac foods into the mix?), and sided with some roasted Yukon gold potatoes with rosemary.

Note that all of these dishes cook in the oven and at about the same temperature. Use the 450 F temperature setting for all of the dishes and just keep the potatoes in for a minute or two less than the recommended time.

Wines with Dinner

For the most part, this meal will pair better with full bodies white wines like Chardonnay, Viognier, or even a Pinot Blanc but if you really prefer reds (and we’ve already established red wine as an aphrodisiac), a lighter bodied red wine like Pinot Noir will also pair nicely.

We would recommend one of the following:

Cru Wine Company Arroyo Seco Chardonnay
Sarah’s Vineyard Estate Chardonnay
Byron Vineyard and Winery Estate Santa Maria Valley Chardonnay

Idle Hour Viognier
Eberle Winery Mill Road Viognier
Karmere Vineyards and Winery Kades Viognier

Byron Vineyard and Winery Estate Santa Maria Valley Pinot Blanc

Silver Mountain Winery Muns Vineyard Pinot Noir
Idle Hour Winery Pinot Noir
Paraiso Vineyards Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir
Hahn Family Wines Estate Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir
As you can tell, the last two Pinot suggestions are from the Santa Lucia Highlands in   Southwestern Monterey County.  Both Karen and I have a soft spot for Pinots from this region.  If you haven’t had any, you definitely need to give them a try. 

DessertRum Flambe

To end things off, we recommend a Rum Flambéed Bananas and Figs. To add just a touch more decadence (never mind working in three more aphrodisiacs) drizzle a little honey, shave some 85% very dark chocolate and sprinkle some chopped almonds or walnuts over the top.

Wine with Dessert

Thankfully, many dessert wines come in ½ size, 375ml bottles so having a bunch of leftover dessert wine usually isn’t a problem. A late harvest Zinfandel or Chardonnay with lots of residual sugar or a fortified Port would be offer a good pairing. You could also venture out a little and try some Mead with your dessert.

We would recommend one of the following:

Burrell School Winery Late Harvest Chardonnay
Callaway Vineyards Late Harvest Chardonnay

Deaver Vineyards Late Harvest Zinfandel
Burrell School Winery Late Harvest Zinfandel

Bargetto Mead (aka Chaucer’s Mead)

Ficklin Port


So there you have it, the perfect wines and meal for Valentine’s Day. It is up to you now to pull it off and work in whatever romantic touches you can. Now why are you still sitting there? Get busy and start planning the perfect romantic evening! Just don’t share the details with us. Cheers, from!


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