For new relationships, Valentine’s Day can be stressful. If you plan an elaborate evening as a first date, it will be perceived as coming on too strong. If you’ve been dating a year and opt to grab a beer at the local pub, it’s not trying hard enough. The fact of the matter is there’s a protocol for dating, and expectations are heightened on Valentine’s Day. Here’s a guide to getting it right. It won’t cost you a boatload of money; you’ll be considered thoughtful; and you can set the stress aside and enjoy the evening.
First things first: Plan your menu. When deciding on cuisine, it’s important to correctly access how far along you are in your romance.
If the relationship is young, make the evening fun, not stiff. Go to your neighborhood pizza place and ask to buy some dough. This will cost you $3-5, and will taste much better than frozen pizza. If there’s an Italian grocery nearby, you can pick up some fresh pasta sauce and mozzarella. However, a simple tomato sauce is even simpler than it sounds.
Overdo it on toppings: Cheese, meat, veggies, pineapple, whatever you can think of. You can nosh on the toppings as you’re rolling out the dough. After all, who doesn’t like a little playful finger food?
Grab a light red wine: Lambrusco and pizza is a wonderful pairing. The spritz from the wine lightens the meal, and bright red fruit and low tannins complement the sauce without taking center stage. Here are a few of our favorites:
If you’re ready to move to a state of monogamy, go out on a limb and make something from scratch. A dish like whole roasted fish with a simple side of roasted rosemary vegetables seems really complicated, but it practically makes itself. Try a chardonnay from Burgundy. White Burgundy is rich enough to stand up to the root vegetables but lean enough to showcase the delicate flavors of the fish.
PIERRE-YVES COLIN-MOREY “1er Cru Ancegnieres” 2011 (Chassagne Montrachet, France) $55
If you’ve been together for years and want to spice up the romance, try a light fare that’s easy to feed each other. Order in some sushi and sashimi from your favorite Japanese restaurant, and set some ground rules—leave your worries and your clothes at the door. Cuddle up with each other, remember why you fell in love, and just spend the evening alone. For a romantic wine pairing, try Champagne. Sparkling wine with raw fish is a wine pairing practically made for each other.
MARC HEBRART Brut Rosé non-vintage (Vallée de la Marne, Champagne, France) $50
PIERRE MONCUIT Blanc de Blancs Brut non-vintage (Mesnil, Champagne, France) $40
SCHRAMSBERG Blanc de Blancs Brut non-vintage (Napa, California) $28
Lastly, don’t forget to set the tone for the night with a few romantic gestures. We recommend candles, flowers, a thoughtful card, and romantic playlist. And most importantly, enjoy yourself!
How do you plan on making this Valentine’s Day one to remember? Share your romantic ideas with us!
Photo Credit: Filippa's