NORFOLK, Va. — With thousands of varietals of wine available, picking out the perfect wine for a romantic Valentine's evening can seem a little daunting.
Not to worry. Wine expert Crystal Cameron-Schaad offered up some great suggestions to help us out. She owns "Crystal Palate" in Norfolk, and she knows just how to get your evening going.
Crystal's early recommendation: "I love to start off a meal with bubbly."
Sparkling wine is a perfect way to begin a romantic evening, and it doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg.
"You can find something great under $15. You can get a great prosecco, it's going to have nice mouth-watering acidity, it kind of gets you ready for what's to come with your meal."
When it comes to wine goes with your meal, the pairing is critical.
"I like to build things around either the recipes or the bottle of wine."
Heavier or fuller red wines like a Cabernet Sauvignon pair better with beef and richly sauced pasta.
Crystal suggests: "Maybe do a nice filet, a little bit of peppercorn on there, and a nice blue cheese sauce."
A white wine, like Chardonnay, goes better with seafood or chicken.
"How about a beautiful crabcake, or maybe if you really want to go gourmet a lobster pasta dish perhaps? It could go really nicely with that."
If your love has a sweet tooth, and really enjoys chocolate, Crystal says to keep this in mind, "You want to do something a little sweeter than the dessert. When you have a sweet food, it is going to take the sweetness and fruitiness out of the wine."
The best advice from our sommelier?
"Don't overthink it. At the end of the day, you know we get so programmed into thinking everything has to be absolutely perfect. If you like what your making and you like that bottle of wine, personal preferences do matter. Enjoy each other, and enjoy what's in front of you!"
If you like red wine, and your partner prefers white wine, here is a great compromise that may bring you together...
Know the story behind your bottle of wine...
These wines work well with chocolate...
Here are some more pairing suggestions from Crystal Cameron Schaad...