redwhite_bottles.jpg By a show of hands, how many people are stressing about Valentine’s Day? Were you able to get that sought-after reservation? Are you cooking a romantic dinner at home and don’t know sauté from flambé? (If you fall into that category – a word of advice – keep the fire extinguisher handy, the fire should be in the bedroom, not the kitchen) Is the little token of affection you bought too much or too little? It’s enough to suck the romance right out of the day.

It may sound like we are cynical, and perhaps we are, but it seems to Gothamist that we try so hard to make sure the day is just right that we end up feeling frustrated - not hopelessly in love. That’s why this Valentine’s Day we are throwing tradition to the wind and mixing things up Gothamist style - and by that we mean heavy on the wine. Now traditional Valentine’s Day wine would be Champagne – you won’t find any of that here. [Writer’s note: dear champagne, you know we love you - nothing personal].

We are going to mix things up with spicy red and white wines that tantalize every last tastebud. Just think, if the wine can create that much excitement – you already are on the right path. Here are our picks of the bold and the beautiful:

Elegant Spice: Syrah embodies that perfect balance of spice and fruit. The delicate notes of white pepper intertwined with rich black fruit are expressive but not flashy. 2001 Paul Jaboulet Aine Crozes Hermitage Domaine de Thalabert, Rhone Valley, France, $24.99

Zesty Spice: Those who are faint of heart - continue on, this is not the wine for you. Imagine combining Italian spicy inhibition with explosive fruit from South America – it just screams passion. That’s what you get with this Babera from Argentina. Bodega Norton Barbera Mendoza, Agentina 2003 $10

Exotic Spice: The name Gewurztraminer may not conger images of passion and romance but with one sip of this aromatic, exotic white wine and you might think otherwise. This wine is an incredible mix of roses and lychee, tropical fruit and sweet spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and star anise. 2002 Charles Baur Gewürztraminer Grand Cru Pfersigberg, France $25

And to think people give Champagne credit as the elixir of romance. Don’t be afraid to spice things up and break Valentine’s traditions. Nothing gets in the way of romance like convention.