Valentine’s Day is a funny old day. It all feels so forced and corny – especially when stuffed animals for grown people get involved. Especially when those plushies are carrying tiny signs that say ‘I wuv you more’ and ‘I’m glad I swiped right’.

Creepy soft toys aside, is there anything more cringe than declaring your one-in-a-million feelings for someone right alongside millions of other someones?

Mind you, we already know how awful the whole shebang is. We get that it’s a grabby, tacky Hallmark occasion that really should get in the bin.

Except, there’s a reason we’re all lined up cheek-to-blushing-cheek on 14 February. FOMO gets us all in the end. For you may think your love is so beyond schmaltzy-ol’ Val’s Day, but when said day rolls around, someone is buying all those wilting service station roses.

No one really wants to get caught empty handed on Valentine’s Day.

So, here’s a thought: a late-evening picnic, preferably somewhere with a view of the setting sun, is always romantic. Even on that day.

Roll out a generous-sized mat, add a comfy cushion or two, throw down a platter and stack it with fruits, nuts and cheeses galore. Add a plate of oysters and a jar of pate, plus the crispiest crackers that ever did crack. You can drop a few rose petals here and there, if that’s your person’s thing.

Then choose a top bubbly, because if ever there was a time to raise a glass to love, sweet love, that time is now. And, for heaven’s sake, pack proper crystal flutes, not dreadful plastic cups. Despite its best efforts, love can’t actually conquer everything.

Rising bubbles
Louis Auger Champagne Brut – $
It’s not that you’re a cheapskate, it’s just that you know a great deal when you find it. Louis Auger is a steal at under $40 a bottle. It’s a dry, but well-balanced Champagne with a full-mouth finish. Definitely one to open with a bang.

A by Arras Premium Cuvee Rosé – $
A pink sparkler fits Valentine’s Day to a T (presumably for Tasmania, which is where all the best Aussie rosé comes from). This bubbly is light and fruity, but is nicely balanced by a distinctive creaminess that makes it a memorably drop for a memorable picnic.

Bellebonne 2018 Vintage Cuvée – $$
Another decent Tassie sparkling wine, Bellebonne has had several good vintage years since 2016. The 2018 is mellow with a touch of toasty spice – just the way we like a fine romance.

Soaring bubbles
Billecart-Salmon Brut Réserve Champagne NV – $$
Those who know their mid-price Champagne bypass the Veuves and the Moets and head straight to the Billecart-Salmon. It’s such a fine, drinkable offering that’s smoother than its price might suggest. In fact, it’s the ideal choice for winning new affections.

Vouette & Sorbee Fidele Champagne – $$$
Pack regular wine glasses, not flutes, for this medium-bodied Champagne that needs a decent airing to be at its best. The glorious amber colour is a dead-giveaway that this is a particularly mighty Champagne to share with a particularly mighty person.

Krug Vintage Brut 2000 – $$$$$
If you want to add some razzle-dazzle to your gentle twilight picnic, try to get your hands on a bottle of Krug 2000. It’s exxy for a reason – 2000 was an exceptional year for the House of Krug and they managed to capture the chaos and excitement of the turn of the millennium in a bottle. Now, if that’s not worth throwing the picnic rug down on the 14th for, then it ain’t true love.

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