In the Mood: What to Drink While You Dine on Valentine’s Day

At Cinghiale-Enoteca, owner/sommelier Tony Foreman + his staff invite wine drinkers to sign the special bottles they’ve ordered. There are thousands displayed.

Step away from the Chardonnay. Put down the pinot noir. Think outside the bourbon. That is an order. Seriously, though, you’ve carefully thought through Valentine’s Day dinner, picking an amazing restaurant with the perfect menu for you and your date; don’t stop there. You can make the 14th extra special with an unforgettable beverage experience that is anything but everyday. Eric Arnold, a wine and spirits expert and author of First Big Crush: The Down and Dirty on Making Great Wine Down Under, a book about a novice’s winemaking experiences in New Zealand, shared his four must-try picks to sip this Saturday.

“The spirit that was once the afterthought downed by tired waitstaff and line cooks in Italian restaurants has suddenly become hip – and it was long overdue. Sort of a lighter, more nuanced version of herbal liqueurs such as Fernet-Branca, Amaro is slightly sweet but ever so alluring. Usually consumed after dinner, but certainly appropriate before the appetizers, Amaro never fails to bring a smile to a first-timer’s face.”

Vintage Champagne
“It’s perfectly normal if you’ve sipped a glass of Yellow Label Veuve, Moët, or Mumm and wondered what all the fuss is about. Vintage Champagne – all the grapes were picked in the same season, and a year is visible on the label – is an entirely different experience, especially if the bottle is upwards of a decade old. Vintage Champagne sometimes is a little lighter on the effervescence, but all those extra years of cellar aging make the wine richer in texture, fuller in flavor, and multidimensional in character. These are also the bubblies you can drink right through an entire meal, as these Champagnes tend to pair better with a wider range of foods.”

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10 Extra Special Valentine’s Day Special Requests

With Valentine’s Day coming up this weekend, we’ve been thinking about special requests a lot. A LOT. Our data team has been crunching data. We’ve been looking for trends. And, we’ve been sifting through years of requests, looking for our favorites. Some are heartfelt, some are desperate cries for help, and some are deliberately cheeky — and they’ve all left us hoping the restaurants were able to fulfill these requests (particulary #1 — we sincerely hope you survived, dear diner!).

1. “Can you make it extra romantic and nice? A booth will be preferable. My girlfriend is a bit on the crazy side, and I would like to spend Valentine’s Day without getting screamed at. PLEASE HELP ME SURVIVE VALENTINES DAY!”

2. “If at all possible, we’d like a waiter with a ponytail/longer hair and/or accent.”

3. “Draw a puppy on a piece of paper and leave it on the table!”

4. “I want to get lucky with my girl tonight :)”

5. “A free meal for being so darn good looking!”

6. “I am sending my girlfriend here along with one of her friends. I am in Iraq right now and would like you to accept my credit card for this dinner.”

7. “[Female name, redacted] is breaking up with [male, name redacted].”

8. “No requests, but we’re just five ladies without dates on Valentine’s Day. Feel free if you’d like to give us chocolates or glasses of wine to fill our hearts with love.”

9. “I’m asking my date to prom, and I’m bringing cupcakes that say ‘me’, ‘you’, and ‘prom’ on them. Could our server or the manager bring them out as a special desert? Please and thank you!”

10. “Tell Libby she smells like Amish turkey.”

The Duo Behind Dai Due in Austin Share Their Favorite Shareable Dish

t.j.fall2014(2)Dai Due opened in 2014, but its origins date back to 2006. The restaurant takes its name from the Italian adage, “Dai due regni di natura, piglia il cibo con misura,” which translates to “From the two kingdoms of nature, choose food with care.” Naturally, then, choosing food with care is the mantra at this popular Austin eatery and butcher shop specializing in the hyper local. Having built a solid reputation and loyal following over eight years as the Dai Due Supper Club and Farmers’ Market, the newish brick and mortar location in the Cherrywood neighborhood of Austin is keeping culinary couple Jesse Griffiths and Tamara Mayfield super busy. Happily, their dedication has paid off: Dai Due was just honored by the Austin Chronicle, being named First Plate Top 10s by both Brandon Watson and Virginia B. Wood and included on the Chronicle’s 2015 Top 100 Restaurants. Open six days a week, Dai Due occupies much of Griffiths and Mayfield’s time.

When they have time to cook at home together, Mayfield says, “It’s always roast chicken.” Together for a decade, she says that they also enjoy sharing a bottle of wine. “If we are doing wine, our favorite would be a bottle of Gigondas (that is what we were drinking when Jesse proposed at Chez Nous in Austin.).

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Valentine’s Day Diners Are Getting More Demanding

The soft music of Argentine tango, or a live jazz ensemble playing away in the background, long-stemmed roses laid across the table, candlelight, a warm greeting with glasses of Champagne, a table by the fireplace, or near a window with a spectacular view of the sunset — these are some of the things many couples look forward to for the perfect Valentine’s day dinner.

Some of these aspirations get reflected in the requests diners make to the restaurant while making their V-day reservations. At OpenTable, we have a treasure trove of these requests dating back to 2004. When we laid them out in chronological order, we started seeing some interesting trends.

Continue reading on the OpenTable tech blog Ingredients.