You romantic devil, you. You’re going to make dinner at home for your best girl on Valentine’s Day, aren’t you? Good for you. Everyone knows the way to a woman’s heart is through her stomach. And, of course, her palate.
You can do it. Sure you can. Here are some tips:
First impression: As she walks in the door, hand her a glass of bubbly. Let her relax on the sofa while you bustle, whistling, over final dinner preps.
The setting: Candlelight. Table for two. A single rose in a vase on the table. A pillow for her feet. Barry White on the sound system.
The menu. Here are some ideas. I’m providing wine matches, but you’ll have to Google the recipes. I can’t do everything for you.
• Caviar with champagne. Only the good stuff. True, two servings of good caviar like Petrossian’s will set you back $80 or more, and a good French champagne will be at least $40 – so you might save this for when you plan to pop the question. Or for an even-year anniversary.
• Rich stone crabs with crisp sauvignon blanc. I base this pairing on years of research at Joe’s Stone Crab restaurant in Miami Beach, Fla.
• Smoked salmon with real French rosé champagne. Pink. With bubbles. Delicate, smoky tenderness with the world’s most romantic wine.
• Raw oysters on the half-shell accompanied by a delicate French Muscadet wine. The wine is fizzy and fun. And you know what they say about oysters.
• Steamed lobster with butter sauce, with a big California chardonnay. Richness upon richness.
• Bacon-wrapped filet mignon with cabernet sauvignon. The classic red-meat, red wine combo.
• Chicken rollatini, stuffed with prosciutto and provolone and rolled, served with an Italian chianti. You might even dress up like the Sopranos.
• Pumpkin ravioli with sage cream sauce with a Hungarian gruner veltliner. You can impress her by pronouncing it. GROO-ner FELT-leener. (Roll that first “r” a little.
• Roast duck with pinot noir. Dark. Mysterious. Sensual.
• Chocolate molten lava cake with sweet, decadent ruby port. Two of the sexiest flavors on earth.
• Chocolate biscotti with a soft, sweet, red, fizzy Brachetto d’Acqui from Italy. Pour it in a wide-mouth bubbly glass and dip the biscotti in it. This is what those glasses are made for.
• Vanilla bean-flecked ice cream with dark, sweet Sherry made from the ultra-concentrated, extra-viscous Pedro Ximinez grape poured over it.
•Bananas foster with sweet Italian Moscato. Turn off the smoke alarm and flame the bananas at the table. That should impress her.
• 2012 Nautilus Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand: crisp and lively, with aroma and flavors of gooseberries and herbs, creamy and smooth; $14.
• Nonvintage Barbadillo Pedro Ximinez Sherry, Sanlucar de Barramea, Spain: made of grapes dried on mats in the sun, it is dark and rich, with aromas and flavors of raisins, toffee and candied orange peel – so viscous you can pour it over ice cream; $15.
• 2011 Karolyi Estate Gruner Veltliner, Tolna, Hungary: crisp and zingy, with aromas and flavors of white grapefruit and minerals; $11.
• 2010 Wild Horse “Unbridled” Chardonnay, Bien Nacido Vineyard, Santa Maria Valley: hint of oak and bread dough, rich, opulent flavors of pineapples and toffee; $24.
• 2010 Reata Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast: dark hue, aromas and flavors of black cherries, cinnamon and earth; deep and rich; $30.
• 2009 Piccini Chianti Classico DOCG Tuscany (85 percent sangiovese, 15 percent merlot): floral aromas, tart cherry flavors, medium body, smooth; $16.
• 2012 Vietti Moscato d’Asti “Cascinetta Vietti” DOCG, Italy: delicate yellow color, sweet, with balancing crispness, aromas and flavors of apricots and cloves, $15.
• Nonvintage Sandeman Ruby Port, Portugal: bright red color, sweet, hearty red berry and cinnamon flavors, full-bodied; $15.
• 2009 Banfi “Rosa Regale” Brachetto d’Acqui: red and soft and sweet and fizzy, with aromas and flavors of strawberries and cherries; $20.
• 2010 Sauvion & Fils Muscadet de Sevre et Maine Sur Lie, Loire Valley, France: pale green color, delicate and light and dry, with crisp green apple flavors and a tiny fizz; $10.
Fred Tasker has retired from the Miami Herald but is still writing about wine. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.