By Carl Hanson

It's Valentine's Day. If ever there was a day to pick the perfect wine, this is the one. So let's aim high! It's time to rise to the challenge, to boldly go into that cavernous wine store and select the single most romantic wine from among rows and rows of pretenders. Oh, it can be done.

And here are the four simple guidelines for choosing the best bottle of wine to share with your sweetheart. With so many options, though, you'll understand why rule number 1 must be...

1. Limit Your Options

Red, it's where the romance is. I mean, right? Well, maybe. But it doesn't even matter if it's true, just that you think it is. In which case, congratulations; you've just eliminated half the bottles in the store. (Note for white-wine lovers: This rule works the other way too.)

2. Consider Your Companion

Now let's narrow the focus even more by establishing the type of person your Valentine is. Is he or she a Master of the Universe, easily impressed by lavish displays of wealth and privilege? A conspicuous consumer accepting of nothing but the very finest luxuries? Well, your little charmer will easily be made happy with a rare bottle of tremendous pedigree from a spectacular vintage with an unbelievably exciting storyline.

Bring the big wallet.

Now then, if you've established that this is indeed the person you've hitched your bright star to, ditch immediately and save yourself enormous piles of cash, not to mention headache and heartbreak. Otherwise...

3. Recall the Romance

This is where we drill down. Consider the romantic places where you've passed the precious moments gazing into each other's eyes and so on and so forth. If you've been to wine country, to France, Italy, or Spain, to Napa, Willamette Valley, or Walla Walla, your perfect bottle is now within easy reach.

Or rely on your rich fantasy life instead. Think of places you've always dreamed of visiting. A nice bottle of Bordeaux can't transport you to France, but after a glass or two, it can close the distance.

Ava on African safari. With diamonds, pearls, and Burgundy.

Also, it's useful to know that at last check every state in the US was producing wine. If that romantic trip was to New Mexico, consider a bottle of Gruet sparkling wine. A weekend getaway to the Texas Hill Country? Try a Bordeaux blend from Fall Creek Vineyards, TX.

Warning: The key to success here lies in not confusing travel companions. If the question, "Remember that fantastic dinner in Charleston?" is answered with, "That wasn't me," you're doing it wrong.

4. Make It Meaningful

It doesn't need to involve exotic destinations. If you can think of a particularly important dinner or otherwise meaningful time that included wine, seek out a similar wine.

Anyway, it doesn't need to be the exact same wine to register on the romance scale. The remembering should be enough. Even the attempt at remembering can get you there. "Remember that little cafe in [Romantic Setting] where we [something important and memorable]? Wasn't this the wine we were drinking? I thought it might be."

So, yes, OK, the single most romantic bottle of wine in the entire world is the one that means the most to you two lovebirds. But wait a minute...what if you don't have a relationship history with your Valentine yet?

Well then, you better make this meat valentine. I know it's a raw deal, but try it, preferably with rosé Champagne. You're going to love it. And maybe even each other, too.

Check out our collection of Valentine's Day Recipes.