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FEATURE

February 9, 2017

By Candace Longfellow

VALENTINE’S DAY IN: HOW TO IMPRESS YOUR DATE AT HOME

Coming on the heels of Christmas and the new year, Valentine’s Day can sometimes feel more like a headache than a holiday. With the wounds of the X-mas credit card statement still fresh, the idea of buying another gift let alone booking a dinner reservation may not seem all that appealing. But there is a way to escape the Valentine’s Day Industrial Complex and still make your partner feel loved. “Staying in can be a really romantic way to celebrate the holiday,” says Senior Art & Home Director Kim Brown. “Maybe you prefer a laid-back Valentine’s Day or it’s your first one together and you want to do something special. Whatever the case, it’s nice to avoid the crowds.” Here, we’re showing you how to take Netflix and chill to the next level with three easy ways to impress your date at home. 

Start With Breakfast

Who says Valentine’s Day is all about the dinner? Begin the day on a high note and surprise your partner with a romantic breakfast in bed — bring them a sweet homemade treat alongside their favorite tea in your most elegant serveware. “All the older, more formal stuff is trending again,” says Brown. “If you’re looking to invest in your first china set, my advice is to buy what you love, but go with the good stuff from brands like Herend and Rosenthal because it lasts forever and you can pass it down to your kids.”

Set The Scene

In the evening, take it up a notch with an intimate dinner for two. Make your date feel extra special with a perfectly set table even Emily Post would approve. “You can dress up any meal by breaking out your best china and flatware,” says Brown. “Even if you’re a terrible cook, a formal setting can be an instant upgrade.” The basic rule to remember is that forks go on the left, and spoons and knives go on the right. Then, arrange the utensils by course. The last course’s utensils should be placed closest to the plate, while the first course’s utensils should be the furthest outside.
Beyond the essentials, add to a romantic ambiance with a layered table setting. “Use luxurious linens, put chargers beneath the plates, and add a few romantic flourishes like bud vases and candlesticks for dramatic lighting,” suggests Brown.

Wine And Dine

Pairing wine with food can be intimidating, but there are a few rules of thumb that can help simplify the process. A good place to start is with the most obvious guideline —  light pairs with light, and heavy with heavy. If you’re serving a red meat for example, team it with a tannic red wine whose acidity and high alcohol content can balance the richness of the fat. Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah pair well with duck or a nicely marbled steak. “Wines with a little residual sugar such as Pinot Gris or Riesling with a touch of sweetness, pair well with spicy foods,” says Cory Gowan of Mission Wine Merchants. If you’re serving a light fish (or anything you’d squeeze a lemon on), reach for an unoaked white like Sauvignon Blanc or Albariño, though richer fish like salmon or halibut can stand up to a light red like Pinot Noir or Grenache. To amp up the celebratory feel, begin or end the meal with a bottle of sparkling wine which Gowan recommends pairing with oysters or strong cheeses. And while you’re at it, invest in a few extra bottles: “Whether it’s Champagne, Pet-Nat, Cremants, Cava, or Prosecco, sparkling wines make great food pairings and don’t need to be a reserved for special occasions.”

Ready to start planning your date? Shop all the makings of an impressive V-Day at home, here.