We've written about wine and sex here before: Since antiquity, wine and the cult of Bacchus and Dionysus have been associated with sexuality and intimacy. Wine -- red in particular, thanks to its polyphenols -- not only diminishes our inhibition ("I wanna tell her that I love her a lot, but I gotta get a belly full of wine," sang Paul McCartney on Abbey Road), it also induces vasorelaxation, making our blood flow more freely, facilitating the libido and putting us "in the mood."
So it's only natural that we'd be thinking about wine today, the day before Valentine's Day, the all-American holiday propagated by the greeting card industry.
Vivano le femmine, viva il buon vino, sings Don Giovanni in Mozart's Italian-language opera, long live women, long live good wine! (Act II, Scene XVIII)
It's not surprising that sex-obsessed Italy is home to a number of wines inspired by eroticism. Rome native Piera Farina (above) made a splash a few years ago when she launched her "Kama Vino" label inspired by the Kama Sutra.
Of course, the most famous sexy wine in our country was produced by porn star Savanna Samson (right), who received a coveted 90+ score from wine critic Robert Parker in 2005 when she released her Italian-raised Sogno Uno.
The Italians even have a grape variety that they claim has aphrodisiacal properties. The white pepper note in Pelaverga, literally the branch peeler, is believed to arouse sexual desire (although the grape's name is more likely owed to vine-training techniques once employed by farmers in Piedmont where Pelaverga is grown).
Choosing the right wine for your Valentine's Day celebration with your lover can really help to create the right setting for a romantic encounter.
Sparkling wines are always a standby: Nothing says I love you better than bubbles.
And while technically speaking, there is no wine that pairs well with chocolate (because of the intense, concentrated flavors of cocoa and sugar), I am a big fan of gently sparkling, low-alcohol Brachetto d'Acqui (also from Piedmont). Even though the marriage is not ideal, I find that it does work well with desserts and its rosé color and delicate sweetness are just right for the holiday (look for Brachetto at Spec's and the Houston Wine Merchant; Braida is my favorite producer available in our market but there are a few others as well).
I'm still not sure what wine I'll be opening with my lover and wife, Tracie P, for our Valentine's Day dinner. But I know one thing for sure: It won't be the wine that puts me in the mood; it'll be her dazzling blue eyes.
After all, it's not the wine that makes you feel sexy. It's the person with whom you share it that does...
What wine are your opening for your lover tomorrow night? Please share your Valentine's Day picks in the comment section.