Whether you’re a passionate Catullus or a hapless Frank Spencer, there’s no avoiding St Valentine’s day this Thursday. 

If there’s one night of the year you have carte blanche to ask out the apple of your eye, this is it. 

Instead of going to a restaurant, make a romantic supper at home. With the money saved, you can splash out on the wine. 

Top tips for food and wine matches to impress your date are: 

Oysters and Champagne
 – quick to prepare and easy to eat. A big platter of oysters always looks erotic and Champagne implies a generous spirit. Grower Champagnes from small producers are a more imaginative choice than big names. English sparkling wines are also great with seafood and the quality is now excellent. Among the best are 
Camel Valley and Ridgeview.  

and The Sampler have good grower Champagnes. Camel Valley and Ridgeview are available in London from Waitrose

Steak and Bordeaux
– who doesn’t love this combination? Fillet or rib-eye are the best cuts. Buy meat from a good butcher like Ginger Pig, Harrods or Moen in Clapham. Bordeaux can be a minefield for the novice. Visit an independent with staff who know about wine. 

Roberson in Kensington and Lea & Sandeman both have good ranges of single, older bottles. Serve your meat with pommes dauphinoise and green beans – never fails to please. 

Chocolate and fortified wines – i
gnore those who say chocolate doesn’t go with wine. You just need the right wines. Tawny Port, Moscatel de Valencia and Rutherglen Muscats are all safe bets and widely available. Also good is sparkling Asti – retro-chic and goes well with puddings and ice cream. 

Make the effort to buy artisan chocolate from independents such as
Melt in Notting Hill. Melt also has concessions in Selfridges and Harrods

If you want to go out, try one of London’s top casual bars instead of an over-priced, pink-themed dinner. 

Bar Pepito
in Kings Cross was named Time Out Best New Bar of 2010. The busy, buzzy vibe is a good antidote to awkward silences.
Pepito’s stocks the full spectrum of Sherry wine styles – bone dry Fino and Manzanilla, nutty Amontillado and Oloroso, sweet Moscatel, luscious Pedro Ximenez and the aficionado’s favourite, Palo Cortado. 

Wine tastings
are also a great first date. There are hundreds of events listed on Local Wine Events. London merchants with good wine tasting evenings include Berry Bros, Roberson and The Sampler

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