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.
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 over final dinner prep.
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 source the recipes. I can’t do everything for you.
Appetizers• Rich stone crabs with crisp sauvignon blanc. I base this pairing on years of research at Joe’s Stone Crab.
• Smoked salmon with French rosé champagne. Delicate, smoky tenderness with the world’s most romantic wine.
• Oysters on the half-shell with delicate French muscadet. The wine is fizzy and fun. And you know what they say about oysters.
Entrees• Lobster with butter sauce and 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, served with an Italian chianti.
• Pumpkin ravioli with sage cream sauce and 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.
Dessert• 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. 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, ultra-concentrated Pedro Ximinez sherry poured over it. Get the super-expensive ice cream with the highest fat content. This is a special occasion.
• Bananas Foster with sweet Italian moscato. Turn off the smoke alarm and flame the bananas at the table. That should impress her.
Through it all, whisper sweet nothings in her ear. I can’t help you with that either.
Highly recommended• 2009 Charles Krug Family Reserve Generations Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley (81 percent cabernet sauvignon, 10 percent merlot, 9 percent cabernet franc): hint of oak, flavors of black cherries, black coffee and spice, big and rich and smooth; $50.
• 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.
• Nonvintage Moet & Chandon Rosé Champagne, Epernay, France (pinot noir, pinot meunier, chardonnay): floral aromas, myriad tiny bubbles, firm structure, crisp, with flavors of tart strawberries, spice and minerals; $50.
Recommended• 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 continues writing about wine for McClatchy News Service.