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Valentine’s Day Wine Couplings to Turn You On

Sweet Sauternes and rich foie gras.

Oxidative Muscadet and briny raw oysters.

Barnyard-scented Pinot Noir and fatty roast duck breast.

Jammy Zinfandel and a juicy burger and crisp French fries.

Plump Sangiovese with a bloody steak. Bone-dry Riesling and smoked salmon.

Racy Champagne and oily fish roe.

The above are some of the world’s greatest and most famous wine pairings. But do they make you horny?

If the answer is yes, then read no further: Reach for one of the wine world’s canonical pairings for your coupling on Valentine’s Day this year. You really can’t go wrong with any of them. They’ve stood the test of time and have helped many a lover seduce the object of her/his desire.

If the answer is no, then rejoice: The most memorable wine pairings are as much about idiosyncrasy as they are about the “rules” of gastronomy. In other words, make this year’s Valentine’s Day wine pairing about your lover and you, the foods and wines that turn you on, and the setting of your love den.

Keep in mind: No one is advocating that you head to your favorite fast food location with a furtive bottle of 1961 Château Cheval Blanc as Miles did in Sideways.

But the following are some good rules-of-thumb for successfully pairing aromas and flavors and ideally making your lover feel as sexy as you do.

1. Avoid sweet foods when pairing with wine. Sugar will overwhelm the flavors in nearly any wine.

Even fruit, with its natural sugar, will get a wine out of whack. Yes, Richard Gere seduced Julia Roberts with Champagne and strawberries in Pretty Woman, but that was the movies.

2. Excessive heat, spice, and overly intense flavor are also best to avoid. Piping hot soup, for example, overpowers the nuance in wine. And the same holds for fiery chili peppers.

For the best pairings, look for foods balanced in their flavor and aroma. After all, no one is going to be up for smooching on the couch when her/his lover has been munching on overly garlicky garlic bread.

3. Look for affinity in the flavors of the wine and food you want to pair. Muscadet and oysters is a great example of this where the mineral character of the wine plays against the saltiness of the shellfish.

If a spritz of lemon tastes great on a piece of sautéed sea bass, so will the citrus flavors of a fresh-style Chardonnay.

4. Restrained alcohol is a lover’s best friend. There are very few foods that will pair well with excessively alcoholic wine. Wine professionals call wines like these “hot” but they’re not referring to their sex appeal.

If booze is what need to get in the mood, then stick to Bourbon and Scotch. But keep in mind: Drunk sex is rarely as good as you remember it to be (if you remember it at all).

5. Have fun with it. The chemistry between wine and food is like the sexual tension between two lovers. Sometimes it has nothing to do with the wines and foods themselves. If your lover is turned on by a pricy bottle of Napa Valley Cab, then splurge.

If the heat of Vietnamese cuisines makes you horny, then reach for some acidity-driven thirst-quenching quaffing white (aromatic Gewürztraminer would work well). Bollinger Champagne and peperoni pizza breaks rules one through three above. But it’s what one wine writer will be pouring for his lover this year…