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story.lead_photo.caption (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Kelly Brant)

As Valentine's Day draws near many of us are planning the "perfect" evening with the one we love. If you know me well, you know I enjoy savoring foods almost as much as wines. Most restaurants offer a "set menu," and I always feel the crowded room of diners are going through the same motions we are to check off the must-do Valentine's dinner.

Don't feel guilty if you opt-out.

Instead, this year consider an intimate and fun wine and cheese pairing dinner at home.

Keep it simple by focusing only on tried-and-true pairings. If your Valentine has never explored wine and cheese pairings it will be an exploration he or she will always remember.

There was a time when good quality cheese was expensive and only found at cheese specialty stores. Not today, most grocery stores offer an exceptional selection. I was able to find each of the cheeses I recommend below in Central Arkansas grocery stores. In addition to the wines and cheeses include some grapes, crackers, olives, prosciutto and other snacks around the table.

To really impress your Valentine, do your research. Search out information on the cheeses. The country of origin, what makes it unique, etc. It will be an added touch and the attention to detail may impress your date.

Pick two or all pairings below, depending on your budget. Because there are so many to explore this week's wine recommendations are half bottles.

Pinot Noir and Gruyere

2017 Goldeneye Anderson Valley Pinot Noir 375 mL, California (about $34 retail)

Champagne and Brie

NV Moet Chandon Imperial 375 mL, France (about $42 retail)

Moscato D' Asti and Gorgonzola

2018 La Spinetta Moscato d'Asti 375 mL, Italy (about $17 retail)

Sauvignon Blanc and Goat Cheese

2018 Honig Sauvignon Blanc 375 mL, California (about $14 retail)

Cabernet Sauvignon and Aged Cheddar

2017 Honig Cabernet Sauvignon 375 mL, California (about $27 retail)

Rosé and Havarti

2018 Luc Belaire Rare Rosé 375 mL, France (about $22 retail)

Malbec and Gouda

2017 Catena Malbec 375 mL, Argentina (about $14 retail)

Port and Stilton

NV Bell Port Lodi 375 mL, California (about $33 retail)

Lorri Hambuchen is a member of London's Institute of Wines and Spirits. Contact her at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, P.O. Box 2221, Little Rock, AR 72203, or email:

[email protected]

Food on 02/12/2020

Print Headline: Simple wine, cheese pairing the perfect Valentine

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