Valentine’s Day presents difficulties every year for couples wishing to go out on a date. 

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Valentine’s Day presents difficulties every year for couples wishing to go out on a date. Restaurants are booked, or if they are not, the wait can be endless. Even planning in advance can’t save you from the sheer volume of people who will have the serving staff utterly exhausted. What about adding a different twist to a Valentine’s date? How do you do something different, something that isn’t dinner and drinks or dinner and a movie?

For eight years, LaVeryl Lower has hosted Wine and Chocolate the Sunday before Valentine’s Day. Lower owns The Metro Wine Bar & Bistro, and she said it was the absolute craziness of Valentine’s Day that helped her decide to offer an alternative date night before the big day.

“So many people go out on that night or the night after that it’s difficult to get reservations unless you make them months in advance,” Lower said. “I thought it would be a good idea to create a Valentine’s date that takes the pressure off and is far more relaxing.”

Lower features five by-the-glass wine lists every year. Wine and Chocolate is the night guests can sample her late winter list.

“Since it’s right before Valentine’s Day, I thought it would be fun to make it a wine and chocolate tasting instead of just rolling out a new wine list,” Lower said.

In addition to the 20 wines (10 red and 10 white), guests enjoy house-made cocoa confections created for pairing with specific wines on the list. The pairings offer another layer of experience to the event: education. She helps guests understand which flavor components go with what kind of wine because not all desserts need dessert wines or big, jammy reds.

“For whites, we look for flavors like lime and ginger or peppers and herbs,” Lower said. “Acid is always good for pairing desserts with white wine.”

This year’s event includes white chocolate with lime, ginger and Szechuan pepper; white chocolate with blood orange and basil; and white chocolate with coconut, pistachio and curry.

“People say that white chocolate isn’t really chocolate,” Lower said. “I know that’s true, but it’s still delicious.”

For the reds, Lower is planning raspberry-and-dark-chocolate truffles as well as Bourbon-and-brown-butter truffles. This year, for the first time, there also will be savory chocolates featuring bacon, cocoa-roasted beef tenderloin and bitter chocolate.

Wines at The Metro are chosen from all over the world and include a relative newcomer from Spain, Alejandro Fernández El Víncula Tinto Crianza, a very dry Tempranillo. Lower’s list always includes local favorites, too, so names like Alexana, Banshee, Neyers and Turley will also be featured. Wine geeks will recognize Stolpman Roussanne and Spann Carignan, two of the more unique wines that will be poured.

print headline: Pour more, Chocolate and wine — what more could your valentine want? Perhaps a date just before the holiday rush

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