Spin the bottle
Remember those youthful days when romance was decided via Spin the Bottle? Our kids would be horrified to hear that we were ever so cavalier in our smooching decisions. (Heck, they'd be horrified to hear that we ever smooched.) But we can't help but be charmed by Buellton's Spin the Bottle Cellars, which produces chardonnay, cabernet and a red blend with labels that feature a spinning bottle. Seriously. It's the same printing technology that's used to make pictures wink and move as you shift perspective. We can't speak to the contents, but the bottles are adorable and at $12 and up (available at Safeway, Fresh & Easy and spinthebottlecellars.com), they're a perfect way to tell your Valentine, "I have no intention of leaving this smooching decision up to chance."
Love & hoppiness
Is it any accident that SF Beer Week coincides with Valentine's Day? This festival is all about love and hoppiness, and the Valentine's Day events range from a Pucker Up! sour beer celebration at San Jose's Original Gravity Public House to a beer breakfast at San Francisco's Social Kitchen, a sweet-and-sour beerfest at Oakland's Rosamunde Sausage Grill and a beer and dessert pairing -- hello, beeramisu! -- at Half Moon Bay Brewing. Check out our other suggestions on page 5.
Anyone can give their heartthrob a box of sweets, but if you really want to wow, try a pair of tickets to the San Francisco Chocolate Salon. This grand cacao fest runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on March 15 at Fort Mason, where you can immerse yourself in 55,000 square feet of chocolate. Well, not literally; Fort Mason will not be filled with molten chocolate. But you can taste the creations of 40 master chocolatiers, confectioners and chefs, watch chocolate demos and enjoy wine and beer pairings. Think of it as Valentine's Day, the Sequel. Tickets are $20 in advance, $30 at the door; www.SFChocolateSalon.com.
Oh, lordy, we hear about ill-advised Kickstarter projects all the time. Do not get us started on the Wine Condom. (You'll find horrified commentary at blogs.mercurynews.com/eat-drink-play.) But Audra Quinn and Ashley Borg's "Uncorked!" game might actually be fun. If Loaded Questions and Cards Against Humanity ever played, er, spin the bottle, this would be their love child. The game is designed for folks who enjoy drinking the stuff but do not want to hear about their cabernet's crunchy tannins and precocious attitude. Players sip, swirl and pen over-the-top wine descriptions, then guess who wrote what. The hilarity depends on the wit of your fellow players (and, no doubt, how much wine you've imbibed), but you can check it out at uncorkedgame.com.
-- Jackie Burrell