It's that day again tomorrow, in case you hadn't already been browbeaten with nudge, nudge, wink, wink spam messages. I enjoy the cheesy annual press releases exhorting me to recommend this or that booze as an aid to seduction, but they've been disappointingly thin on the ground this year. So I can't tickle your fancy with anything except news of a Valentine's Day Gourmet Food and Wine Masterclass at London's Vinopolis tomorrow. If anything was designed to provoke the desire but take away the performance, it's surely wine with "smoked and confit salmon terrine, strawberry sorbet, venison casserole with a vanilla mash and spicy red cabbage topped off with a marquis au chocolat with an orange flavoured custard, coffee and rum".
It's hard to be inspired by the usual roll-call of wines based on romantic names, such as St Amour, Chambolle Musigny Les Amoureuses, Cloof's the Very Sexy Shiraz, Hugel's Cuvée Les Amours, Mollydooker's Carnival of Love Shiraz or even Soif du Coeur, complete with its own wedding site link. I thought of highlighting the steamier sides of romance with the playful Ménage à Trois from California's Folie à Deux, widely available in America but not here, Marquis de Sade Champagne, now discontinued I'm pained to say, or even simply South Africa's Meerlust. It strikes me, though, that since everyone's a foodie these days, it might be more useful to find suitable wine matches for aphrodisiac foods.
They say the North Italian white truffle is one of the great aphrodisiacs and if I could afford the £2,000-odd a kilo, I'd be inclined to fork out for the erotically charged Tuber magnatum. Truffle oil over pasta is a decent alternative and with it a modern barbera such as GD Vajra's 2006 Barbera d'Alba, £19.95, Jeroboams shops, London, a slinky Piedmontese number full of damson plum fruitiness. Mark Hix's briney-fresh oyster recipes (see page 36) call for the cleansing minerality of a great chablis such as Jean-Paul & Benoît Droin's majestically complex 2007 Chablis Grand Cru Vaudésir, £37.15, Berry Bros & Rudd (0800 280 2440), but a more affordable white Burgundy such as the voluptuous 2008 Bourgogne Blanc 'Jean de la Vigne', Domaine Cordier, £11.99, down from £12.99, Majestic, or a super-fresh, appetisingly dry 2008 Grüner Veltliner Hefeabzug, Nikolaihof, £14.99, Majestic, will also fit the bill nicely.
Champagne is a Valentine's Day staple of course, usually pink, usually Laurent Perrier. It can be apéritif-style, like Marks & Spencer's excellent value Champagne Oudinot Rosé made, as it happens, by Laurent Perrier, £5 off at £17.99, down from its usual £22.99, or the fine 2005 Green Point Brut Rosé, £17.49, Waitrose; or, for a more affordable alternative, the fine 2007 Sainsbury's Taste the Difference Cava Rosé, £9.99, or delicious Bluff Hill Sparkling Rosé, £6.99, down from £8.99, M&S. For a truly luxurious rosé fizz, Louis Roederer's 2004 Rosé Champagne, around £65, Fortnum & Mason, Harrods, Harvey Nichols, with its youthful cranberry-like bite, slices neatly through the oiliness of smoked or hot-smoked salmon. I wouldn't be doing my duty to the sweet of tooth without suggesting Harveys' prune-oozing, treacle-toffeed Pedro Ximénez, £19.99, half-litre, Waitrose, perfect with those other stimulants – vanilla, banana or dark chocolate.