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Wine or Roses for Valentine's Day

Other Heartfelt Wine Gifts

Wine is a great gift but some might argue it's too routine. And with the importance of romance on Valentine's Day, it's time to step it up and be, well, romantic. So here are my more exotic wine-related gift ideas.

Call your favorite upscale restaurant and ask them to put together a private wine dinner for you. Most restaurants, with the appropriate notice, will put together a special menu for eight or more people that can turn an ordinary culinary outing into a great wine adventure.

Pick a restaurant with a good wine list and a proprietor with a solid working knowledge of the wines, tell them what you want to do and, presto, you have a dinner party fit for you, your spouse and six of your closest friends. You set the price parameters and food and drink preferences and let the restaurant do the rest. (A tip, literally: Make sure you compensate your hosts and servers at the restaurant appropriately for their efforts. If you do that the first time, you will have made friends for life and assure you will always be welcome!)

A step beyond is to plan a trip to wine country. While for most people that would mean California, it could also mean the Pacific Northwest, New York or even Virginia, a very underappreciated state for wines. An ideal trip is to make reservations at a place like Bernardus, a winery and lodge/spa near Carmel, Calif., that can provide the complete package: a great winery and vineyard tour, a pampering trip to the spa and a dining experience among the best you will find anywhere.

However, a trip to the Napa or Sonoma regions provides a bevy of quaint yet sophisticated lodging opportunities from small bed and breakfasts to full-service resorts. Take a long weekend, set up two to three private vineyard trips per day and enjoy the countryside.

Whatever your choice, have a Happy Valentine's Day. Let us begin the tradition of making this holiday a time for wine and roses!
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