The most romantic meal I’ve ever had was eaten entirely on my own.
Years ago, on a solo trip to Barcelona, ostensibly to finish working on a book proposal, I found myself dining alone, sitting outside at a little neighbourhood restaurant as the heat of the day faded into a quiet evening.
I can still remember exactly what I ate – sopa de pimientos rojos (that’s a red pepper soup to you and me) with a prosciutto-topped tostada, followed by arroz con gambas and a plate of the most deliciously sticky pork ribs. “Dessert?” my waiter asked with a polite smile as he cleared away the last of my main course, though of course we both already knew what my answer would be – in for a peso, in for a pound.
As I worked my way through each dish, like a truffle pig on a Tuscan hillside, digging and scraping, scooping a stray drop of sauce off a thumb and back into my mouth, I was struck by how romantic the setting was – and it suddenly dawned on me that our definition of romance could be expanded.
To me, romance doesn’t have to just be about heart-shaped balloons and giant bouquets of red roses – even if we all love those things on the day. Rather, it’s about applying your fanciest perfume even though you’re not planning on leaving the house, or taking the time to iron your pyjamas before you put them on (I promise you, the way you’ll sleep hits different). It’s drinking the “good wine” with your midweek dinner just because. Personally, I love nothing more than opening a bottle of McGuigan Black Label Red when I’ve got a night to myself; its versatility and smooth fruit flavours make it the ideal partner for a Netflix and takeaway session (especially if that takeaway is pizza or spicy Asian). It’s about treating yourself as you would a lover: with care and indulgence, by going the extra mile.
So, if your bank balance – or your heart – is feeling a little worse for wear in the aftermath of yet another pressurised Valentine’s Day, it might be worth reframing your concept of what romance really is.
McGuigan Wines are available in most UK supermarkets. For more information, please go to mcguiganwines.co.uk