Feb 8, 2021
In the tradition of Aphrodite, the goddess of love and fertility, after which aphrodisiacs are named, we give you a list of 12 foods that inspire love and passion, and the wines to match. Date night just got more exciting!! You can let us know if any of these actually work.
William Blake Richmond, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Here's the list of the top 12 aphrodisiac foods and the wines to pair with them:
1. Watermelon is rich in L-citrulline, an amino acid that helps improve blood flow. Like Viagra, L-citrulline increases blood flow to the sexual organs but without any negative side effects!
Put it in a salad with feta and arugula (rocket, also and aphrodisiac so you get a double hit of spice in your life).
Wine: Spanish rosé. I like a Monastrell-based wine because it's bolder and fruitier than some other Spanish versions, and you need that fruit to stand up to the flavors in this tasty but sweet, bitter, and salty salad. You can use a California rosé too, but Pinot Noir may be too light so get something a bit bolder and made from a different grape.
2. Salmon (and other cold water fish like herring, anchovies, sardines) has lots of omega-3s, which encourage good moods, good skin, good brainpower, and a good sex drive!
Since salmon can be prepared in so many different ways, we give a few wine ideas:
3. Oysters. Both because they are thought to resemble certain female body parts and because Romans in the 2nd century AD claimed that women had much prowess after eating them, oysters have become the standard for aphrodisiac food.
Wine: If you like the magnification of salt, go for a Chablis, Muscadet, Albariño, or Champagne. If you dislike that, stick with a Bordeaux Blanc or a Côte du Rhône blanc, both of which have lower acidity so it won't make the oysters seem quite as salty.
4. Asparagus. Well M.C. Ice had ALL sorts of issues with this one, but it's on all the lists I've found, so it has to make ours too. Another food that is all about increasing and maintaining sex drive, both its intrinsic properties and its "interesting" shape contribute to its effectiveness. M.C. Ice was grossed out by the smell factor and the shape argument really made him squirm.
This one comes from the Aztecs. They called the avocado tree "ahuacuatl." That means "testicle tree", because the avocados hang in pairs off the branches, so...yeah.
Wine: Avocado is great alone or in salads, sandwiches, or with Mexican. If you are having Haas avocados, the most popular type in the U.S., you'll notice they are both creamy and nutty. What's a wine that's creamy and nutty? One of my favorite whites: Fiano di Avellino, which has a lovely almond or hazelnut finish. Arneis from Piedmont could work too.
6. Carrot and ginger soup. Here we go again with the shape thing... but carrots also have beta carotene and lots of other good-for-you vitamins, which Middle Easterners believed aided in making people more attractive.
Ginger is spicy and it helps get your blood flowing. It also tastes delicious when combined with carrots in a soup!
Wine: If you're having roasted carrots (and other dishes that will fit this) you can easily pair them with a red like Côtes-du-Rhône or another Grenache-based wine that will be moderate enough to stand up to char but let the carroty flavor shine through.
If you take our suggestion of the soup (and add coriander, which we mention is known to increase sexual appetite), you'll have a trifecta of goodness that will pair well with Alsace Riesling or a Viognier from California or from the northern Rhône.
7. Truffles. I'm not talking about the chocolate kind. I'm talking about the rare fungi kind found in the Piedmont of Italy. Greeks and Romans both claimed the musky scent of truffles made people's skin more sensitive and that's a good thing for a healthy love life.
Wine: Slightly older Barolo or Barbaresco (also from Piedmont) is a perfect fit for the earthy, barnyard, mushroom note of truffles. Especially if the truffles are with red meat, bolder versions of these Nebbiolo-based wines will be perfect matches.
If you are having risotto or pasta with truffles, have Fiano di Avellino from Campania, or a bold white from the Rhône. I would steer clear of fruity, young wine for this pairing.
8. Fennel. The ancient Greeks found this vegetable, which is like a celery, licorice mash-up (both also alleged aphrodisiacs), to be a real libido enhancer. Maybe it's because it has plant estrogen in it!
Wine: If you are have a steak with roasted fennel or a soup or stew with a fennel base, a great Northern Rhône Syrah or a more subtle California Syrah will be an excellent pairing. The flavors of a Syrah -- the rich fruit, the black pepper, and the spice will be great with the fennel notes.
For lighter style fennel dishes like vegetarian soups with a fennel base or chicken with a fennel cream sauce, a white Rioja or a slightly oaky Chardonnay can each hold their flavor and structure against the strong celery/licorice notes well.
9. Figs. Like oysters, when cut open, figs allegedly resemble a female body part and for that reason they have always been considered a food for the amorous. Because having them on their own presents a tough wine pairing challenge we recommend having them with a little cheese -- goat, feta or especially blue with counter some of that natural sweetness.
Wine: If you take the idea of having figs with cheese for your date night appetizer or tapas, you are going to need a very fruity, bold red to pair. Zinfandel, or southern Italian wines like Nero d'Avola, Primitivo (Zinfandel), and Negro Amaro can take on both the sweetness of the figs and the salty, penicillin-like note of the blue cheese. A slightly sweet tawny or ruby Port could also do the trick quite well.
10. Pesto (the aphrodisiac trifecta). Basil produces a sense of well-being and boosts fertility. Garlic spices up your desires. Pine nuts have zinc, which increases male potency. Put them together and bam! the most love enhancing potion there is.
Wine: Pesto comes from Liguria, right near the Piedmont region of northwest Italy. Cortese di Gavi and Arneis are classic Piedmont whites that have enough flavor to stand up to the garlic, a nuttiness to go well with the pine nuts, and excellent acidity to make them stand out. If you want a light red, stick with Piedmont again -- a simple Barbera, Freisa, or Grignolino will do the trick.
11. Dessert of strawberries, raspberries and vanilla cake or whipped cream. Strawberries and raspberries are said to invite love. Latin American legend tells us that the vanilla plant was created when a beautiful young girl fell in love with a boy from the wrong social class, who she couldn't marry. When a god asked for her hand and she said no, the god got so angry he turned her into a vanilla plant.
Wine: The honeyed, apricot flavors and good acidity of Sauternes or Barsac from Bordeaux would be excellent dessert partners. A late harvest (Auslese) Riesling from Mosel would be great or a lighter style fizzy wine like Moscato d'Asti also work wonders with berry vanilla desserts. Each of these ideas would work but my favorite pairing for berry vanilla desserts is demi-sec Champagne
12. Wine! All on its own, is an aphrodisiac in a bottle! Whether it's because your inhibitions go away or because alcohol also increases blood flow, red wine and Champagne, specifically, have been praised for raising the libidos and amorous intentions of those who consume it (in moderation). Apart from Champagne, which is always a great wine to pair with any food, and to liven up any dinner, here are some love inspired wines to consider:
1. St. Valentine's remains lie in Rome. Although Lazio's wines are a bit lacking, you could get a Sagrantino di Montefalco from Umbria (it borders Lazio in the northeast) or a lovely Piedirosso or Aglianico from Campania (borders Lazio to the south). Close enough, and these are great reds!
2. Relics of St. Valentine's are also in Madrid. There are some wines coming from Madrid now, but if you can't find those, get the rich reds of Ribera del Duero to inspire love. If you prefer white, get the whites of Rueda, in the same zone as Ribera del Duero, due north of Madrid.
3. It's a little unclear whether the relics in Roquemaure in the Rhône are the real deal, but if it justifies drinking Châteauneuf-du-Pape, which is across the river, I'll go with it!
**Note: there are also a ton of St. Valentine stuff in Dublin, so if you want a Guinness, that works too!
Whether it's for Valen-wine, date night, or to test the properties of these aphrodisiac foods, we wish you a fun filled night!
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