Red Figures:~Valentine’s Success

There are two words that can throw most men into a mild panic attack: Valentine’s Day.

Of course, some men handle the occasion well. Perhaps those men have been planning something for months, complete with sonnets and handmade cards.

And then there is the majority of you that will swing by the store on the way home and pick through what’s left of the cards and chocolates and hope that is sufficient. I have some tips for you.

When my husband and I first began dating, we were trying to keep it very casual. After all, we had both gotten out of relationships and were not ready to call “this” anything. So around February 12th, instead of waiting and letting the tension build, I wrote him an email and said, “Valentine’s Schmanlientine’s, let’s just make dinner together and have some good wine. Sound good?”

That’s kind of how we have kept things, 11 years later.

It can be precarious in the early phase of dating. Maybe you want to do something to show you care, but not that there is a ring coming. You want to keep it light and non-committal, but not set yourself up for a goodbye.

I would suggest a bottle of Robert Mondavi’s Central Coast Crush. Neither the price nor the flavor profile is over the top. Juicy berries and a hint of chocolate. This red blend is easy to pair. Share it with a simple cheese plate or with a lighter chocolate.

And speaking of chocolates, please don’t go for a drugstore box. Honestly now, how many are actually worth eating? Usually just the caramels, in my book. So why not go for a box of Sea Salt Caramels? A little more thoughtful and a lot more enjoyable. I was recently sent a bottle of Crush with a box of Lula’s Sea Salt Caramels by Folsom and Associates. They are just ridiculous, a sure way to win someone over . And as far as the wine, the name kind of says it all, doesn’t it?

If you’ve been together a while, chances are you’ve got your special places and moments to remember. Some girls love diamonds; I am a sucker for thoughtfulness. Did you fall in love over a dinner with a great Bordeaux? Find that wine. Does she love Spain? Grab a great Rioja and make tapas for an evening in.

My husband has a litany of wine memories to choose from. He could get a bottle of ’96 Sterling Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, like the one he opened the night he proposed. He could pick up a Barbaresco, since we spent three weeks traversing Italy before we settled into parenthood. Or he could open ZD Pinot Reserve, one of our favorite special occasion wines.

Want to really knock it over the top? Make your own truffles. It sounds intimidating but it is actually pretty easy. Pair them with bubbles or a tawny port. Merlot, Zinfandel or a Cab with lower tannins can work, too. Ask your favorite Sommelier or wine steward to help you pick the perfect one for the chocolate dish you have in mind.

Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be intimidating. A little time, a little consideration should be sufficient. When in doubt, add two parts wine, one part chocolate and a healthy dose of flattery.

Chocolate Truffles

  1. Warm 8oz. heavy cream to medium heat.
  2. Add 4 Tablespoons of butter, ½ cup great quality cocoa powder.
  3. Remove from heat and add ½ teaspoon Vanilla (Good quality Mexican vanilla helps)
  4. Cool the mixture and then form into ball, use a melon baller or your hands. Toss in the cocoa.
  5. Want to get creative? Add cinnamon or cayenne to the cocoa powder. Maybe espresso powder? Peppermint or almond extract? Get creative.