A lover's guide to wine

How to build your valentine vocabulary―and jump-start your evening

Lover's wine guide Albarino

Alex Farnum

Aromatic, flamboyant Albariño

Our favorite food pairings

Aphrodite had her tools―apples, pomegranates, and a mythical girdle that, legend has it, made her irresistible to men. We reject the girdle in favor of a glass of wine with seductive edibles. A half-dozen oysters, a few almonds, some spicy chiles, and a racy bottle of Western white.

Have a Latin fling 
Get cozy with the West’s new wave of flamboyantly aromatic, thoroughly romantic Latin grapes. Don’t be surprised if you fall in love––especially when you pair them with these aphrodisiac foods.

Toast with sparkling rosé and caviar

Photo by Thomas J. Story; written by Elaine Johnson

Toast with sparkling rosé and caviar

Go for the classic combo, or venture into something a little more unusual. Here's our guide.

More: Perfect sparkling rosé pairings

Almond cake and late-harvest wine

Alex Farnum

Almond cake and late-harvest wine

Almonds in ancient Arabian baking might have fueled The Thousand and One Nights, but we’ll settle for just one night and just one pastry: an Italian AlmondCake from Pacific Sourdough company on the Oregon coast ($25; almondcake.com).

Pair it with a wine that, as food editor Margo True says, “puts both arms around the cake”―Beringer’s honeyed “Nightingale,” a 2005 late-harvest Semillon–Sauvignon Blanc blend (Napa Valley; $40, 375 ml.). A less expensive alternative: Quady “Essensia” Orange Muscat 2007 (California; $13.75, 375 ml.).

Tablas Creek Vineyards 2005 "Vin de Paille Sacrrouge"

Jeffery Cross

Bottled seduction

This is no wine to sip politely. Gulp it, pour it over yourself, surrender sense to it.

The only one of its kind in the world, Tablas Creek Vineyard’s 2005 “Vin de Paille Sacrérouge” (Paso Robles; $45, 375 ml.) is made from 100 percent Mourvèdre grapes.

They were spread out on straw to dry for several weeks, concentrating all their dark cherry, plum, fig, and chocolate flavors in a precious little bit of juice (a method traditional in the Mediterranean for making white dessert wine).

Then the grapes were stomped by foot. How sensual is that?

Oysters + cold whites

Alex Farnum

Barbequed oysters 3 ways

All seafood has aphrodisiac credentials by right of sharing a birthplace with Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, who was famously born beneath the waves. But oysters have earned the sexiest reputation of all.

The good news for San Francisco Bay Area folks is that the Hog Island Oyster Co.’s new location in Napa’s Oxbow Public Market (hogisland oysters.com or 707/251-8113) is serving the bivalves hot off the grill. Executive chef Ian Marks shared three toppings with us.

View the recipes: 
• Barbequed oysters
• Bagna cauda butter
• Casino butter
• Langosta butter

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