Last year it was projected Valentine’s Day spending in America would reach close to $18 billion, based on the National Retail Federation’s Valentine’s Day Consumer Intentions and Actions survey. Unlike Christmas, most valentine shopping occurs in the five days leading up to Valentine’s Day. So there is still time to shop for that special someone just before merchants put out the chocolate bunnies and eggs.
The history of Valentine’s Day is clouded. Before the day was shortened to just Valentine’s Day, it was known as St. Valentine’s Day and it is with the saints that cloudiness originates. The Catholic Church recognizes several saints with the name Valentine. The most likely culprit was a Valentine executed on Feb. 14, 270 A.D. at the behest of Emperor Claudius II. Legend holds that Claudius prohibited young men from marrying because he believed single men made better warriors. Valentine continued marrying couples and was put to death over this action. On the eve of Valentine’s death, legend also holds he penned the first valentine for his jailer’s daughter signing it, “From your Valentine,” thus creating the beginning of a billion dollar-a-year greeting card industry.
Proof a Valentine existed at this time in history has been established by archaeologists who excavated a Roman catacomb and an ancient church dedicated to Saint Valentine.
Cupid also plays into this mix, but he was no saint. Valentine wore robes. Cupid apparently wore a diaper with a quiver of golden arrows slung over his back. Cupid is a mythological character appearing in both Roman and Greek mythology. In both cultures the Greek Eros and the Roman Cupid were gods of sexual love, beauty and fertility.
All this lore comes together in celebrations recognized in civilizations around the world, including China and South Korea, which both outspend America in celebrating the day devoted to love.
Gifts of jewelry, chocolates, flowers and an evening out remain popular favorites, but add to that mix a gift of wine. Wine is an especially good valentine gift for new acquaintances. Wine in and of itself does not carry the implied sense of commitment as jewelry and lingerie. A bottle of fancy champagne with a syrupy card is another matter.
Try gifting or sharing one of the following wines with your valentine:
Belle Glos 2011 Pinot Noir Clark & Telephone Vineyard
$30 at Tyson’s. A sexy pinot made by the Wagner family who also makes award-winning cabernets like Caymus Special Selection. Belle Glos is made by the third generation of the founding Wagner family.
The epitome of California pinot noir. Substantive. Brimming with plush fruit. Enrobed in a unique glob of red sealing wax that slithers down the side of the bottle.
Salvatore Principe Prosecco
$11.75 at Tyson’s. Light refreshing sparkling wine from Italy. The label looks like a valentine adorned with one of artist Salvatore Principe’s famous hearts.
Robert Mondavi Private Selection Coastal Crush Red Central Coast
A blend of syrah, merlot and malbec. $12 range at most grocery outlets. An uncomplicated, easy-drinking, medium-weight red wine. Strawberries on the nose. Slight sweetness on the approach. Smooth at mid palate with a nice finish.
Pair with Maggie Lyon dark chocolate sea salt caramels available at Tyson Fine Wine and Things in Golden Springs. If feeling particularly frisky, download the late Ella Fitzgerald’s song “I’ve Got a Crush on You” as your ringtone and play when presenting this gift.
$10.99 at the Wine Cellar on Quintard. A sweet pink sparkling wine made in New York state from fruit grown in the Piedmont region of Italy. Perfect if your significant other is named Melissa and likes sweet fizzy wines.
Contact Pat Kettles at firstname.lastname@example.org.