Romantic Food and Wine Pairings Perfect for Date Nights at Home

Chicken-Sausage Meatballs with Zucchini
Photo: Brie Passano

Date night done right! Instead of making a reservation, make a memorable romantic wine dinner together. Share this lovable food and wine pairing menu at home. With such dishes as oysters and pasta and desserts like chocolate fondue and cheesecake, we've paired some of our best recipes with a range of affordable vinos.

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Brie Passano

Our hearts practically melt each time we look at this cheesy cast-iron skillet recipe remembering how decadent and delicious it was when we tasted it in the Test Kitchen. Make it date-night-friendly as a food and wine pairing menu starter by adjusting the cheese amount to 1 pound. Then just add your desired dunkers (such as boiled potatoes, steamed veggies, and bread) and kick the night off with a snack-a-palooza.

Pair it with: A nicely acidic sparkling wine like thisBohigas Brut Reserve Cava($15, Gary's Wine) will cut through the richness of the cheese.

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Charcuterie Platter

Charcuterie Platter
Jason Donnelly

Just like the fancy appetizer board you might order at a restaurant, this charcuterie platter is a beautiful and variety-filled way to launch into a DIY date night. It's actually even better enjoyed at home. Not only can you customize your spread with your favorite cured meats, cheeses, pickled items, spreads, and more, but you also can enjoy it in the comfort of your pajamas if desired.

Pair it with: A lighter-bodied red like a Bordeaux makes a lovely red wine food pairing for the cured meats. We recommend 2015 Château Greysac Cru Bourgeois Médoc

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Oysters de Tabasco

multiple Oysters de Tabasco on ice
Karla Conrad

If you're more in the mood for a lighter start to your romantic wine dinner, try fresh oysters as your app instead of meats and cheeses. For this fiery rendition, we call for spicing up the natural aphrodisiac with a buttery, peppery sauce spiked with bacon. What's not to love?

Pair it with: Wildly affordable, effervescent Vinho Verde from Portugal. Try Broadbent Vinho Verde ($10,

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Grain Salad with Greens, Cherries, and Crispy Bacon

Grain Salad with Greens, Cherries, and Crispy Bacon
Blaine Moats

Tiptoe from snack to supper territory with a hearty whole grain dinner salad. With savory bacon, sweet cherries, nutty farro, and funky blue cheese, it's far more flavorful than your standard side salad. Plus, all of those complex flavors make it a dreamy rosé wine-food pairing.

Pair it with: A crisp Provence rosé along the lines of 2018 Trés Chic Rosé ($19,

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Chicken-Sausage Meatballs with Zucchini

Chicken-Sausage Meatballs with Zucchini
Brie Passano

Savor a Lady and the Tramp slurp-a-spaghetti-strand moment with this cozy yet light meatball pasta dinner. Chicken meatballs are remarkably juicy and fall-apart tender once infused with shredded zucchini. Toss them with your favorite marinara sauce and a big pile of pasta, then all that's left to do is twirl and share a big bowl together.

Pair it with: One of the best tips about how to pair wine with food is, "What grows together goes together." So with a classic pasta dinner like this, we recommend a light Italian red such as a 2017 Dei Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.

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Simplified Paella

Simplified Paella in bowls
Jacob Fox

Invite your plus-one on a taste bud tour of Spain by serving this seafood and rice entrée as part of your food and wine pairing menu. After just 25 minutes of prep time, it essentially cooks itself in your slow cooker as you snack and start the night off right with an appetizer, cocktail, or glass of sparkling wine.

Pair it with: Spanish Tempranillo like 2016 CVNE Crianza

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Red Wine Beef Stew with Cheesy Potatoes

pot of Red Wine Beef Stew with Cheesy Potatoes
Brie Passano

Beef stew is a match made in meal heaven if you're aiming to enjoy a red wine dinner. This one gets an über-comfy upgrade with a scalloped-potato-like topping, complete with melted butter and cheese. Yes, please!

Pair it with: Accentuate the beef and mushrooms—and use the rest of the bottle called for in the stew itself—by sipping on a fruity red like a 2018 Oberon Merlot with this dish.

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Easy Boiled Lobster

Boiled Lobster
Blaine Moats

Few foods say, "treat yourself," more than a perfectly cooked lobster. Since it's not too heavy and feels a bit fancy, it's one of our go-to wine pairing dinner recipes. This rendition shows how simple and speedy it can be—the serves-two recipe can be on your table in just 30 minutes.

Pair it with: Since they're less buttery and more food-friendly than many new-world Chardonnays, try a French Chardonnay. We love William Fevre Chablis Champs Royaux

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Petite Beef Wellingtons

Petite Beef Wellingtons
Carson Downing

A steak and wine dinner is good. But you know what's even better? Red wine with steak that's topped with an ooh-la-la mushroom duxelles (aka a mixture of mushrooms sautéed with onions, shallots, garlic, and parsley) and wrapped in puff pastry. *Chef's kiss.*

Pair it with: A light- to medium-bodied red such as Pinot Noir. Consider 2018 Siduri Pinot Noir Willamette Valley.

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Mini Greens-and-Cheese Soufflés

Mini Greens-and-Cheese Souffles
Carson Downing

As a snazzy side to any of the main dish wine pairing menu ideas, show off with a soufflé. If you can whip egg whites, you can add this French-inspired recipe to your spread! Bake up single servings in cute cups or small ramekins ($19 for 12, Amazon).

Pair it with: A full-bodied French white like the one you drink with the lobster or 2018 Louis Latour Mâcon-Lugny Les Genievres.

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Maple Cheesecake with Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream

Maple Cheesecake with Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream
Carson Downing

No wine pairing dinner is complete without dessert! We're wild about this easy make-ahead cheesecake recipe that comes complete with a luscious homemade vanilla bean whipped cream. A sweet-tart pomegranate compote takes it over the top. (Try any leftover compote on tomorrow's waffles, biscuits, or oatmeal come breakfast.)

Pair it with: A nutty, rich, yet not too sweet tawny port. Try Graham's 10-Year-Old Tawny Port ($35,

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Dark Chocolate Fondue with Fruit Kabobs

Dark Chocolate Fondue Fruit Kabobs
Karla Conrad

Don't choose between after-dinner coffee or dessert. This retro slow cooker dessert combines both into one. Serve the food and wine pairing menu dessert with strawberries and angel food cake for a sweet, easy-to-share date night treat.

Pair it with: A rich Shiraz/Syrah. (They're made with the same grape, by the way, just called "Shiraz" if made in Australia.) Something like a 2017 Elderton Shiraz will work beautifully.

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Banana Pancakes with Chocolate Bits and Raspberries

Banana Pancakes Chocolate Bits Raspberries
Jason Donnelly

Why stop at dinner and wine? Roll the celebrations into breakfast in bed—or if you prefer, a more casual breakfast-for-dinner date night—and sizzle up a batch of chocolate-and-berry pancakes.

Pair it with: Come morning, mimosas are a must, so opt for bubbly such as USUAL Brut ($48 for six 6.3-ounce bottles; USUAL Wines). OJ optional.

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