Mrs. Robinson, you’re trying to seduce me.
For inspiring romance, much has been said for flowers, candy, and moonlight strolls. But if seduction is an art, we think the most important tool in your sultry bag of tricks is a fabulous bottle of wine. Double down on the sensuous effects of vino by pairing it with classic aphrodisiac foods for a sultry Valentine’s Day party à deux.
Oysters + Prosecco
Rumor has it that Casanova, Italy’s most famous lover, ate 50 oysters a day to stoke the flames of his romantic stamina…and we agree that the bewitching bivalves are a perfect prelude to a romantic evening. Not only are they sexy to eat, but they’re filled with zinc and amino acids that scientists attest can contribute to vitality in the boudoir.
Accentuate raw oysters’ sweet, creamy, and briny flavors with a simple mignonette laced with pink peppercorns and Prosecco. And since you’ve popped the cork on a Prosecco to add a fizzy zing to your mignonette, how could you resist toasting with it as well?
We love Mionetto Prestige Brut Prosecco ($14.99) as a wine pairing.
Shaved Truffles + Champagne
Extremely rare and with a famously earthy, heady perfume that has made them one of the most expensive gastronomic treats in the world, shaved truffles are luxurious, indulgent, and sensual. Try them in a beautiful pasta, like this sublime gnocchi, crab, and truffle dish. As for the wine? Complete the luxe theme by serving a decadent Champagne. If you’re prepared to go over the top for your love, you absolutely cannot go wrong with the crème de la crème: Champagne Krug Grand Cuvée ($160).
Chile Peppers + Off-Dry White Wine
Said to make you flush, increase your heart rate, and release endorphins, chile peppers are a pleasure-inducing aphrodisiac wonder. Turn up the heat with a luscious Lobster Linguine with Chiles. The trick to pairing spicy foods with wine is to select a wine with a hint of sweetness that will balance out the heat in the dish and keep all the flavors in balance. A delicate, off-dry white wine, like a Riesling from Germany’s Mosel region, shimmers with pure fresh minerality, a touch of apple and white peach, and is a harmonious pairing for spicy dishes. Try Selbach-Oster Zeltinger Schlossberg Riesling Spätlese Trocken 2012 ($25).
Coffee + Vin Santo
The caffeine in coffee acts as a stimulant, increasing your energy and urging blood flow to all the right places. For Valentine’s Day, rather than simply drinking it, indulge in an espresso-spiked dessert, like Tiramisu. Translated as ‘Pick Me Up’, legend has it that Italian housewives would prepare the layers of coffee-soaked ladyfingers, rum, and creamy custard if their husbands were too tired from a hard day’s work to perform their, er, ‘conjugal duties’. Pick me up, indeed!
In Tuscany, Tiramisu is often paired with the famous dessert wine, Vin Santo. Badia a Coltibuono Vin Santo 2008 ($34/half bottle) is semi-sweet, offering a range of luscious walnut, caramel, toasted almond, candied fruit, and vanilla notes.
Chocolate + Italian Red Wine
Sinful, sweet, and associated with the goddess of fertility by the Aztecs, chocolate has been an important part of seduction rituals throughout history…perhaps because chocolate contains phenylethylamine, the same chemical that is released in the brain when we fall in love. Dark chocolate is especially irresistible when it enrobes ripe strawberries and cherries: pair simple, perfect chocolate-dipped fruit with Ciù Ciù Gotico ($17), a red blend from Italy’s Marche region. Ending your evening with a full-bodied, juicy, and velvety red wine is a perfect way to transition into whatever your evening holds next (wink, wink).
Aphrodisiac Story Welcome Mashup
Welcome Photo: Joan Crawford and Clark Gable
Welcome Quote: The Graduate, 1967