A gourmet meal and a top-notch bottle of wine is a timeless formula for a dreamy night out—or in—with the object of your affection.
When you want to maximize amorous vibes and impress your date, opt for one of these proven romantic food and wine pairings.
Grilled steak and robust reds
For sirloins, ribeyes and the like, a bold red wine is the only way to go.
A good rule of thumb when selecting the best wine for grilled steak: the fattier the meat, the more robust the wine. Ribeye steaks tend to be the fattiest cuts, best complemented by a bold cabernet sauvignon.
For leaner steaks, like top sirloins, choose a juicy pinot noir (and for even more umami, add an element of earthiness with truffles or buttery mushrooms—they’re a perfect pair for the light-in-body, deep-in-flavour pinot noir).
Cheese and sparkling wines
A plate of cheese and a bottle of bubbly is a no-fail combination. To really maximize the romance, pair each cheese variety with a sparkling wine to match.
For triple crème cheeses, like a mild brie, pour a flute of a dry prosecco. Made in the Veneto region of northeastern Italy, it’s deliciously bubbly and more affordable than champagne.
Want to spring for a bottle of the real deal? Consider skipping over creamy cheeses in favour of aged, slightly drier options. Champagne and parmesan is a favourite pairing of experts.
Fresh oysters and muscadet
It doesn’t get much more romantic than freshly shucked oysters and white wine enjoyed with a partner.
Fresh oysters, when served with little more than a spritz of lemon, have a delicate flavour that shouldn’t be overpowered by whatever wine they’re paired with.
Muscadet (don’t confuse it with the similarly named, but very different moscato) is the wine for the job. Hailing from France’s Loire Valley, it’s known for being dry and bright. It will share, not steal, the stage with the oysters.
Lasagne and Italian reds
Italian food is inherently romantic, and lasagne is classically Italian. All those layers of meat, cheese and sauce call for a full-bodied red to match.
For best pairing results, stay local and look for a juicy Italian red, such as a primitivo or a sangiovese variety.
Seared Albacore tuna and a dry rosé
For a seafood lover, the only thing that could make a freshly seared tuna taste better is a desert-dry rosé from Southern Spain or France. With its meaty flavour, Albacore tuna pairs nicely with reds as well, but on an al fresco summer nights it’s hard to beat a rosé—especially when your fish is seasoned with salty soy and a squeeze of citrus.
Dark chocolate and port
Whether chocolate is an aphrodisiac or not isn’t exactly clear, but as far as setting the scene for romance goes, it’s always a winner. A date calls for a more refined chocolate experience; pick a dark chocolate (with a cacao content of at least 55 per cent) from an artisan chocolatier and serve it alongside extra-sweet fruit, like figs or melons.
The best accompanying beverage is a port or port-style wine—sweet and thick, with a high alcohol content—which will perfectly offset the dark chocolate’s bitterness.
Fatty fish and Chardonnay
Buttery fish, buttery chard. Whether you’re serving up a sizzling scampi, lightly cooked crab or lemon-butter salmon, a chardonnay from Australia or Chile will transport you and your lover oceanside in a sip.
Spicy grilled meat and syrah
Sometimes it’s all about balance, but in this case a bold wine likes a bold food. Standout seasonings like cumin, anise, clove and harissa need a wine pairing that won’t be overshadowed: a peppery Syrah is the ideal companion for everything from barbecue to blue cheese. Serve your syrah with anything braised, beefy or spicy, like brochettes seasoned with middle eastern spices, empanadas or Asian-spiced burgers.
Salty snacks and Spanish cava
If you’ve spent time in Barcelona or Madrid, you’ve probably found yourself pushing to the front of a bar in a tapas joint, attempting to order a tiny plate of patatas bravas, Jamón ibérico or croquettes. Channel your sun-soaked Spanish romance with crispy, crunchy snacks and a glass of cava—the bubbles cut beautifully through the salt, scrubbing the grease from your mouth to keep every bite feeling light and fresh. If your partner is a champagne lover but the occasion doesn’t call for a splurge, a glass of cava will help elevate your typical fried fare without breaking the bank.
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