This week, the US, Mexico, Canada, France, Australia, and the UK will celebrate Valentine’s Day and LOVE. Valentine’s Day is shrouded in more mystery than the ingredients of an effective love potion— with a strong helping of legend. Was there a real St. Valentine? Was there more than one? Whip up one of these Valentine’s Day Love Potions and dig into the back story rooted both in Roman and Christian traditions.
Spoiler alert: No happy endings here. According to the Romans, he was a priest and physician who performed secret marriages defying the law of Emperor Claudius II that decreed young men could not marry—as they were needed for wars. When Valentine was discovered, he was beheaded.
Another story is that a man named Valentine helped Christians escape from Roman prisons. He then was imprisoned and fell in love with a woman who visited him, sending perhaps the first Valentine note and signing it, “From your Valentine”. The trouble was, she was the jailor’s daughter. Uh. Oh. Again, a beheading around 295 AD.
Either way, it appears that sometime around 496AD he/they was/were Sainted. However, it took 1000 years after his death before the “Day” became recognized. It was when Geoffrey Chaucer (author of The Canterbury Tales) wrote that the February Feast of St. Valentinus also fell during the bird-mating season. He compared finding love and mates to this bird season in a poem.
Soon European nobility began sending mushy and smarmy poetry to their crushes—and so the modern February 14th celebration began.
A century later and the holiday was seized upon by chocolatiers, jewelers, Champagne houses, and other luxury products to associate with this day of expressing love (and making money). These early Valentine’s cards were very florid and flowery and this continues apace today. So, let’s get the festivities going with our own unique LOVE POTIONS!
Make Magic with Sparkling Wines
Sparkling wines take center stage on this day because they tickle the tongue and the senses and they’re terrific wines to pair with sexy food. Let’s veer away from the obvious Champagne thought and tease out some surprising choices that will make us more interesting to the object(s) of our affection.
Schlumberger Sparkling – Brut and Rosé
The story behind this sparkler is very romantic. Robert Alwin Schlumberger was born in 1814 in France. As a young guy, he started working at the Champagne house, Ruinart, and worked his way up to become Cellar Master. In 1941, on a holiday cruise on the River Rhine, he met Sophie Kirchner and fell hard and followed her to back to her home in Austria, leaving his prestigious job behind. Ah, love.
He soon founded Schlumberger in Austria and began making sparkling wine in the Methode Champenoise aka Methode Traditionnelle manner which he knew like the back of his hand. Today, Schlumberger sparkling wines are acknowledged the world over for their pristine craft and extraordinary taste, made from both Austrian and international grapes, Pinot Blanc, Welschreisling, and Chardonnay. Released in both vintage-dated and non-vintage bottlings.
Schlumberger also produces a stunning sparkler made from Gruner-Veltliner. This grape is the noble grape variety of Austria. An extraordinary grape with aromas and taste of apples, white flowers, crisp acidity, and a finish of slightly spicy white pepper! The wines are filled with small, active bubbles; fresh fruit, and baked bread aromas and finish bone dry. Pairs with creamy soups, sauces, spicy repertoire.
Tip: All of these wines are naturally low in histamines, meaning no headache in the morning!
For the Brut: Fried chicken, Caviar, Chinese cuisine, Poached Lobster, Pasta with creamy sauces, soft cheeses, or Cheetos.
For the Rosé: Grilled Lobster, Sushi, Thai Cuisine. Do not pair with cakes and sweets—read on for that recommendation.
(Bra-ketto da kwee). Right away, the rosy-red color of this slightly frizzante wine makes it a natural for Valentine’s Day. Hailing from the elegant Piemonte region in northwestern Italy, known for the famous white truffles, this wine is named for the grape that makes up 100% of the bottle. Prepare yourself, for once you smell and taste this wine, it delivers a wild spray of fresh raspberry fruitiness that finishes so wonderfully full of fresh fruit, yet smooth due to the fizz with a long-lasting finish. You’re left with freshness from its crisp acidity rather than a cloying sweetness.
Tip: Pair with dark chocolate, Lava Cake, Flourless Chocolate Cake, Strawberry Shortcake. And, surprise! Spicy, salty foods such as bacon, Fajitas, Hunan Cuisine, or Pizza. The fruitiness will tame the heat of the spices and the acidity goes with the tomatoes. No. Yeah, really.
Brew Your Own Valentine’s Day Love Potions
While these sparkling wines will create instant and effortless magic, maybe you’re keen to mix up your own Valentine’s Day love potions using your beloved’s favorite flavors. The secret to effective love potions is—they’re unique to every taste. So tailor your brew to satisfy the tastes of the person you want to ensorcell!
This Valentine-themed cocktail is created from Four Roses Small Batch Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. They’re known for their different Small Batch blends which showcase some of the different recipes that come from barrel batching. Primarily this is a marketing term and there’s no real definition for batching, but it’s generally used to mean a small (2-200) selection of barrels batched (mixed and mingled) together prior to bottling.
Recipe for two cocktails:
4 oz Four Roses Small Batch
3 oz of Honey Simple Syrup
1 oz fresh lemon juice
Drops Angostura or Orange Bitters (to taste 1 -5)
Garnishes: Orange slices & Mint sprigs
Stir together and pour ingredients over ice into two cocktail glasses. Garnish with a lemon slice and mint sprig.
This classic should always be in your back pocket for a romantic evening, or for a surprise treat any day of the year. Especially on Valentine’s Day, skip the box of drug store chocolates and shake up this indulgent cocktail especially if your love has a grown-up sweet tooth.
Recipe for two cocktails:
3 oz Vodka
3 oz Mozart Dark Chocolate Liqueur (refrigerated)
Choice of garnish ideas to rim the glass:
Chile powder mixed with sea salt crystals (to taste)
Chocolate syrup from a squeeze bottle and dripped around the rim
Ground candied ginger
Chocolate-covered or plain espresso beans dropped into the glass
Combine vodka and liqueur in a shaker filled with ice, and shake vigorously. Strain into chilled, rimmed martini glasses. Drop 3 espresso beans into the glass and beguile!
Duke’s Cocktails for Two
If your enchantment leans on the swooning sounds and vibes of a joyful jazz orchestra—this cocktail inspired by Duke Ellington’s charming rendition of “Cocktails for Two” is the love potion you’re looking for. Ellington’s favorite cocktail is said to be the Sidecar. This blood-red twist is made with blood orange juice for a seasonally inspired rosy romantic hue. These cocktails + a Duke Ellington playlist will set an incredibly enchanting mood for Valentine’s Day. Turn down the lights and sway with the notes.
Recipe for two cocktails:
5 oz Blood Orange Juice
3 oz Cognac or Brandy
1 oz Grand Marnier
1 oz Simple Syrup or Agave Syrup
Dash of Orange Bitters
Garnish: Wedge or peel of blood orange
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously for 10-15 seconds. Strain into chilled cocktail glasses (typically coupe glasses). Garnish as desired.
Oh what a delight to be
Given the right to be
Happy and carefree again,
No longer slinking,
Like civilized ladies and men.
– Original verse by Sam Coslow, redacted from the final version of “Cocktails for Two”
What’s Love Got to Do with It?
Because let’s be real – Valentine’s day isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. But everyone deserves a sexy smoky mezcal cocktail regardless of their romantic status as well as to have a Galentine celebration. Originally created by the ever-creative Tom Richter, this cocktail is as smooth and alluring as the incomparable Tina Turner. Put on your favorite hot heels, strut, and feel good about yourself, regardless of who else is in the room. Secretly, we all want to be Tina when we grow up.
Recipe for two cocktails (feel free to drink both yourself):
6 dashes Angostura bitters
1.5 oz mezcal
1 oz Pedro Ximénez Sherry
3 oz. aged rum
Garnish: Lemon and lime peel
Stir all ingredients together with ice and strain into two rocks glasses. Enjoy with a single large ice cube. Garnish as desired.
Love Potion #9
I’m closing with this one to honor a quote from Charles Schultz, the creator of the famed Peanuts cartoon strip: “All you need is love, but a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.” The bewitching combination of dark chocolate and strawberries is a feast of love to satisfy any heart. Here’s the recipe to cast a spell for your own Love Potion #9.
Recipe for two “layered” cocktails:
4 oz Mozart Dark Chocolate Liqueur (refrigerated)
4 oz Mozart Strawberry Cream Liqueur (refrigerated)
Garnish: Fresh Strawberries or miniature marshmallows
Small, shapely cocktail glasses
Pour the chocolate liqueur into the glasses about halfway full. Then pour the strawberry liqueur slowly over the back of the spoon to float on top of the chocolate liqueur. Garnish with a fresh strawberry on the rim or marshmallows on a rosemary stem. This is not a sipping drink, rather throw it back like a shot. The heaven is that it tastes just like a chocolate-covered cherry. More, please…
And, so much like love itself, St. Valentine and his reputation as the Patron Saint of love are not matters of verifiable history—but of faith. Here’s to you and yours!
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Contributor: Stacie Hunt, Certified Silver Pin Sommelier/AIS; Vice President National Association of Wine Retailers; International Wine Judge, Author, Spokesperson, and Educator. As a television and video producer/spokesperson, she is the winner of several national and international broadcasting awards. When she’s not wearing her other hat as a partner of a digital media company for the music, corporate, and healthcare industries, her passion is hosting in-person and zoom wine events.