Preparation time: 2 hours
Cooking time: N/A
Dietary guidance: v
1 bottle of nice dry wine (may substitute non-alcoholic sparkling grape juice, if desired)
1 bottle of less expensive wine
1 wedge of Brie cheese
Other gourmet cheeses
Gourmet crackers (at least two kinds)
Gourmet chocolate (at least two kinds)
Sliced fresh apples and/or pears
1 bunch of rinsed seedless grapes
1/2 quart or so of rinsed whole strawberries
2 sliced kiwi fruits
Other fruits if desired
nice matching wine glasses
wine bottle opener
nice serving dishes and plates
wooden serving tray or cutting board for the cheese
a cheese knife
a flower arrangement in a vase
loose rose petals (more on this later)
two tapered candles in holders
romantic music on the stereo
No woman I have ever met has ever said that she does not like an evening tete-a-tete with wine, cheese and fruit. In budgeting for this, spend more on the cheeses, the first bottle of wine, and the chocolate. You can then save money by getting less expensive items for the rest of the elements.
The first wine should be one that is dry (not sweet), bold, and has a lot of flavor. If your first bottle of wine is a red, open it about 20 - 30 minutes before your guest arrives,in order for it to develop its full flavor. This is highly important! Don't serve a complex wine just after it's been opened, or it will taste horrible. It needs to "breathe" first!
The second bottle of wine is not as important, because once someone has drunk a bit of alcohol, their ability to taste the nuances of very good wine diminishes. So there's no need to spend lots of money on the second bottle. It is not necessary to open the second bottle, if the first is adequate, but it is imperative that you have a second bottle on hand just in case the first one was not enough. In selecting this second bottle, it is good to go for something a little sweeter, since it is sort of like a dessert. Again, if the wine is complex and has a lot of subtle flavors (typically if it's a red wine), make sure to open it at least 20 minutes before you drink it in order to give it time to breathe.
The next item is the cheese. You'll need to heat the Brie for about 15 - 20 seconds in the microwave. You'll want it warm but not hot. You don't want to overheat it so that the cheese is runny! The idea is to dip your fruit or crackers into the very soft Brie.
The rest of the cheeses should be at room temperature.
Arrange the cheeses around the plate in a clockwise fashion from mildest to most pungent and complex. Place the Brie in the center. Arrange the fruits and the crackers so that they are out on plates or in bowls in an attractive way.
Have the soft romantic music playing. Place the flowers behind and above everything else on the table, and "bookend" the flowers with the two tapered candles. Place the settings so that you will be sitting close to each other, but at an angle so you look at one another.
Now, for the rose petals. This is a nice trick I picked up, and it's a cheap but great way to really make the presentation look lavish. Stop in to a local florist and ask if they have any loose rose petals that have been stripped off while they were being prepared for display. These loose petals are usually just thrown away with the rest of the floor sweepings, so you can probably get a bag full of them for absolutely nothing! Take the petals home and decorate your table with them by scattering them over the table top.
Have everything ready at least a half hour before hand so that you can shower and relax before she arrives. Light the candles just before answering the door.