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Sexy and Sensuous Valentine’s Day Gift Guide

by Mark Thompson
EDGE Style & Travel Editor
Monday Jan 31, 2011

Remember how when you were a kid and you made Valentine’s cards for everyone in your class - and an extra special one for the pretty boy with the blond forelock who’d flunked the year before and now he was in your class? You were going to be his best friend, starting with the prettiest Valentine’s card in your entire hand-made collection.

Well, you’re all grown up now and that boy is probably watching the Super Bowl with a meatball hoagie - but there are plenty of other deserving friends and family in your life who need a little visit from Cupid. It’s not easy for everyone on Valentine’s Day. There are a lot of Miss Lonelyhearts out there - and Valentine’s Day is the perfect opportunity to show them some love. Free from the burden of creation myths, Valentine’s Day is about nothing so much as Eros and Amour.

Look around and celebrate those who put the amorous and erotic in your life - and make them love you a little more with any of these sensuous (and sensual...) gifts.


Montenisa Rosè

Pink champagne and Valentine’s - it’s a no-brainer. They belong together - like you and your boo.

First produced in 2006 in a village whose origins date back to 1158, Montenisa Rosè is from the Franciacorta area, highly regarded for its rich, fertile soil loaded with minerals. Granted the first and only Italian Brut D.O.C.G. appellation (reserved for the highest level of Italian wines) in 1995, the Franciacorta wines undergo a second natural fermentation in the bottles.

The resultant Montenisa Rosè is rosy pink in color, with a creamy foam and lingering perlage (which is a fancy word for "tiny bubbles," those little pinpricks of pleasure that cross the tip of your tongue with every sip of bubbly). Made of 100% Pinot nero grapes, the Montenisa Rosè releases vibrant aromas cloaked in 12.5% alcohol, which is just enough to loosen the tongue and sharpen the wit. Because, after all, doesn’t everything look better through a flute of rose-colored champagne?

You’re going to need two bottles of this one - and maybe a third, just in case you both get lucky, because as Balzac said, "Great love affairs start with Champagne..."

PRICE: $26 - 35 / 750 ml.
LINK: Montenisa Rosè


Jacques Torres Chocolates / William Dean Chocolates

Chocolates and roses and Valentine’s go together like that threesome you knew in college: always together, always in bed, always beaming. And let’s face it, you give your boo some chocolate and some roses, it’s almost inevitable that Cupid’s going to make sure you get some.

The thing is, when you’re giving chocolate, you’re giving a taste of yourself. The chocolate you give reflects back on you - so step it up and make sure you’re giving good chocolate. Heaven knows there’s an abundance of boutique chocolate out there these days, so pick up something worthy of your reflection. Consider chocolate aficionados Jacques Torres and William Dean.

Better known as "Mr Chocolate" (check out his domain name), Jacques Torres was a pioneer in Williamsburg, causing Manhattanites to flock over the river for his Jacques Torres Spicy Hot Chocolate. The star chocolatier’s current flavors include grand cru, Earl Grey, pineapple pastis, Bin 27 port, golden espresso, ginger - and on and on with enough imaginative appellation to make you salivate in your sleep.

Founded in 2007, William Dean Chocolates is named in honor of the founder’s father and grandfather. Everything at William Dean is made by hand in their Largo, Florida shop, in small batches without preservatives. If you haven’t yet seen William Dean chocolates, you’re in for a surreal surprise. The decorative chocolates appear in a wide range of evocative flavors such as lavender, key lime, bananas foster, crème brulee, grapefruit & tarragon, hot chocolate marshmallow, port with fig and plum, PB & J.

As for us, we’re partial to William Dean’s Mexican mango, an award-winning bon bon of milk chocolate ganache infused with fresh lime juice and a layer of mango pate de fruit with a green chile infused sea salt. Try repeating that - or better yet, hand a boxful to your Valentine right before you roll into bed.

PRICE: $13.00 / 5-piece assortment / Wiliam Dean
$19.20 / 25-piece assortment / Jacques Torres
LINK: William Dean Chocolates
Jacques Torres Chocolates


MensUnderwearStore : Underwear of the Month

Chocolates, check. Roses, check. Underwear? It’s the new Valentine’s trio: chocolates, roses - and underwear. Can we say Victoria’s Secret? Those straight men know how to get some - so should you.

If you’re not the Victoria’s Secret sort (and who are we to sit in judgement?), then you might try out MensUnderwearStore, which has their own Underwear of the Month club. Who needs Cookie of the Month club, when you could be receiving briefs that enhance your package (rather than packing on the pounds with cookies).

For example, the December/January Underwear of the Month at MensUnderwearStore was the All Star No Show brief from 2(x)ist. Made of 57% cotton, 37% modal, and 6% Spandex, these briefs not only showcase your wares, but they’re also delicious to wear - and equally nice to remove.

PRICE: $14.00 / pair
LINK: MensUnderwearStore


Jurlique: Rose Hand Cream / Love Balm

A rose is a rose is a rose, wrote Miss Gertrude Stein - who knew how to hold on to a partner for life. But who needs a bouquet of roses when you can, instead, offer your Valentine a tube of Jurlique’s Rose Hand Cream.

Ever since 1985, Jurlique founders, Dr. Jurgen Klein and his wife, have farmed a small corner of south Australia, cultivating more than 35 herbs and flowers for their all natural skincare line. The 153-acre Jurlique farm uses no pesticides or herbicides in order to maintain a completely biodynamic organic business.

Fragranced with calendula, viola - and yes, rose, Jurlique’s Rose Hand Cream deeply moisturizes and protects the hands of the one you love.

Give this to your sweetest Valentine, along with Jurlique’s Love Balm. Because who could resist a product called Love Balm? A moisturizing salve scented with tangerine oil, Jurlique’s Love Balm protects dry and chapped skin, thanks to a beeswax base and oils of olive, soybean, and safflower.

Packaged in a sweet little pot (perfect for the pocket or the manbag) Jurlique’s Love Balm is meant for lips, fingers, elbows - and any other body part that needs a little extra tender loving care. Gertrude Stein would know how to use it.

PRICE: $25.00 / 1.4 oz (40 ml) / Rose Hand Cream $15.00 / Love Balm
LINK: Jurlique


(Valentine’s Day Gift Guide continues on next page: Stoli, Parker, Nu Skin, and Ooh la la Candy...)

Stolichnaya : Wild Cherri

During World War II, Russian soldiers received a daily allotment of vodka: one hundred grams - nearly four ounces, which was, apparently, enough for them to defeat the Nazis. Or maybe the vodka was Stoli.

Stolichnaya has been Russia’s premier vodka since - well, there’s some debate about when the distillery was established. You see, back in 1894, Russia created a state monopoly on the production of vodka, establishing 350 state distilleries around the country.

(In the meantime, in the States, we were gearing up for thirteen years of Prohibition, thereby sending distilleries into the backwoods of Appalachia.)

And then, at the height of the Cold War in 1972, a deal was brokered in which Pepsi Cola would be imported into the U.S.S.R. - while Stolichnaya vodka would be exported to the States. In other words, score one for the States.

No wonder Russian vodka rules - and particularly Stoli.

Introduced in October of 2010, Stolichnaya Wild Cherri is Stoli’s twelfth flavor. An even dozen of some of the natural world’s more intoxicating flavors. Now there’s a Valentine’s gift suggestion right there: a perfect dozen Stoli bottles. Forget about the roses...

An ancestor of the sweet cherry, the wild cherry is both sweet and tart; in Stoli’s rendition, there’s a deep cherry aroma with notes of red plum and maybe a hint of vanilla like a cherry Coke. Sipped on ice, Stoli Wild Cherri has a warm finish, like a ripe merlot. Or mix up a batch of Wild Cherri Lime Ricky (which sounds like the sister act to Kiki and Herb).

Not unlike Dita Von Teese, Stoli’s Wild Cherri is like one of those riveting bad girls you can’t take your eyes off - and equally delicious.

PRICE: $24 / 750 mL
LINK: Stolichnaya


Parker Premier Black Lacquer GT

When you’re writing love sonnets to your Valentine, it’s only appropriate that you use a proper writing tool. An instrument worthy of your intentions. Something that feels nice in your hand, something with flow, something that’s just the right size - and diameter... Well, you get the idea.

Founded in 1888, Parker Pen Company is one of the oldest names in the pen business, and for much of the twentieth century, it was the largest writing instrument company in the world.

Known for their understated elegance and use of precious materials, Parker’s Premier line of pens are high-precision writing instruments that combine lacquering, chiseling, and plating to create a well-designed object. You might think of them as the Ferraris of writing: sexy and sleek as they race across the page.

Parker Pen’s new Black Lacquer GT line features glossy black lacquer and 23 ct gold-plated trims. Available in three modes - ballpoint, rollerball or fountain - the Parker Premier Black Lacquer GT has been coated with four layers of lacquer. Created from thirty separate parts, this is a pen that has been polished and tested at every step of its manufacturing.

Write your love sonnets with something worthy of your words - and watch how your thoughts become larger than life.

PRICE: $125.00
LINK: Parker Pen


Nu Skin : ageLOC™ Radiant Day SPF 22

You might be going somewhere special for Valentine’s. Maybe somewhere in the sun. Your Valentine might be taking you to his favorite secluded isle - where you’ll need a little something to keep you from boiling like a lobster. Nothing sends you from vacation to hell faster than a second-degree sunburn.

Nu Skin ageLOC™ Radiant Day SPF 22 protects against sun damage, thanks to the highest sun protection factor for any Nu Skin facial moisturizer. In other words, the emollient guards your skin like a lifeguard - while also stimulating cell turnover and reducing fine lines and wrinkles. (Now, find a lifeguard to do that...)

Since 1984, Nu Skin has been producing anti-aging products - and their latest line, ageLOC™, stimulates collagen production by 150%. Nu Skin ageLOC™ Radiant Day SPF 22 is a lightweight lotion that brightens and hydrates the skin, while moisturizing and fortifying your skin cells all day long.

Think of Nu Skin ageLOC™ Radiant Day SPF 22 as a day at the beach for your face.

PRICE: $68.00 / 15 ml (0.5 fl. oz.)
LINK: Nu Skin: ageLOC™ Radiant Day SPF 22


Ooh la la Candy

In spite of the burgeoning anti-cupcake movement, we still love them (did we tell you about the recent cocktail reception where we stood by the cupcake bar and ate salted caramel mini-cupcakes by the handful?). If, however, you find yourself in the throes of buttercream fatigue and you’re ready to step it up a littie, you might think about Ooh la la Candy’s candy cupcakes. That’s right: candy cupcakes, made entirely of candy, in a cupcake liner and boxed with a ribbon for gift presentation.

Ooh la la Candy founder, Sara Stevens, has loved candy since she was a Florida kid - and now, with her daughter, Rebecca, as business partner, Stevens creates custom candy collections good enough to land in the hands of celebs like pop/rock singer Ke$ha.

With a line of candy cards and sweet stuff boxes, as well as retro treats, Ooh la la Candy launched its line of candy cupcakes in 2010. Perfect as party favors or hostess gifts, Ooh la la Candy’s candy cupcakes come in numerous styles from zebra print and cheetah to their special Valentine’s collection.

Our suggestions: the red hots candy cupcake for the UPS guy - and the conversation hearts candy cupcake for that quiet guy at yoga class. As for the candy cupcake with chocolate candy balls, we’ll let you decide.

PRICE: $6.95 / candy cupcake
LINK: Ooh la la Candy


(Valentine’s Gift Guide continued on next page: Tignanello Toscana, O&Co., 2 Chicks with Chocolate, and GetGloved...)

Antinori Tignanello Toscana 2007

There’s something reassuring about lineage when it comes to wine. Since the 13th century, for a full twenty-six generations, the Antinori family has resided in and around Florence. The 16th-century villa on the Antinori estate was built upon the foundations of another villa dating from 1346, during a time when the land belonged to the Buondelmontis, the family of the famous Italian traveler Cristoforo, whose firsthand knowledge of Grecian antiquities influenced Roman culture. Later, the land passed to a branch of the Medicis.

With illustrious terroir like that, it’s understandable that you open a bottle of Antinori Tignanello Toscana with a great deal of expectation. Antinori Tignanello Toscana is one of the first red wines in Chianti not to use white grapes, a practice that ceased at the estate in the mid-1970s. A modern red wine, the Antinori Tignanello Toscana is blended with non-traditional varieties like Cabernet.

The composition of the ruby red Antinori Tignanello Toscana 2007 is 80% Sangiovese, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 5% Cabernet Franc. Upon first inhalation, there’s a richly complex aroma of ripe red fruit, dark cherries and berries, which meld into vanilla. This is a mid-winter’s wine, dense and seductive, with hints of stone fruit like plum, and notes of chocolate and huckleberry on the finish. It’s a cassoulet wine, deep and multi-faceted; it’s as complex as a mole with thirty-six ingredients, each of them awakening on the palate.

Wine Spectator awarded Antinori Tignanello Toscana 2007 a full 92 points, while Wine Advocate went further with a full 95 points - and both sources positing a recommendation to wait until 2012, at the earliest, to open this opulent gem. Ha! Who are they kidding? Antinori Tignanello Toscana 2007 deserves to be on your Valentine’s table this year - and also next. Order a case now and watch your investment soar - while your Valentine beams.

PRICE: $89.99 / 750 ML
LINK: Antinori Tignanello Toscana 2007


O&CO. Vinegars: Wild Poppy Vinegar / Purple Basil Vinegar

Since 1999, when the first O&CO. boutique opened on the Ile St. Louis in Paris, this Provence-based purveyor has introduced customers to some of the Mediterranean’s more flavorful and aromatic extra virgin olive oils.

With more than eighty boutiques worldwide, O&CO. is trusted the world over for their sublime taste in olive oils - and what better to complement those premier oils than an exclusive collection of vinegars.

As most people recognize, vinegar (from the French vin aigre, meaning sour wine) is one of those miracle elixirs that everyone should use regularly - in plentiful amounts. O&CO.’s Wild Poppy Vinegar comes from Nemours, France, where a regional wine is blended with hand-harvested wild poppies (picked by Dorothy and the Tin Man - no, just kidding...) - and then aged according to ancestral traditions. The resultant poppy-shaded vinegar is fruity, with an intense aroma that transforms salads and sautéed vegetables.

O&CO.’s Purple Basil Vinegar is equally delicious on salads, as well as with Asian cuisine. With its delicately peppery notes, this ruby-colored vinegar is the product of a savory white wine blended with tender purple basil leaves (we’re thinking these might be harvested by the Munchkins...).

As lovely to look at as they are to taste, both of these distinctive French vinegars make for a perfect Valentine’s offering - and especially if you’re hopeful of getting a gourmet meal in return.

PRICE: $18 each / 8.4 fl. oz
LINK: O&CO. Vinegars: Wild Poppy Vinegar / Purple Basil Vinegar


2 Chicks with Chocolate : Fire & Ice Chocolate Martini Mix / Wine Collection

Years ago, Teena Marie and Rick James had a huge hit with a torchy love song called "Fire and Desire," which, to this day, still brings Lotharios to their to speak. So when we first read about 2 Chicks with Chocolate and their signature "Fire & Ice Chocolate Martini," we couldn’t help it that something sinfully delicious was triggered in the memory banks.

Based in New Jersey, the award-winning 2 Chicks with Chocolate recently landed on the Top Ten Chocolatiers in America list, as compiled by Dessert Professionals magazine - thanks to the celebrated work of Master Chocolatier, Patrick Coston. Coston was once a judge on Food Network Challenge, as well as one of the "Top Ten Pastry Chefs in America," according to Pastry Art & Design Magazine. And no less than Gourmet magazine called Coston’s chocolates a "box of bliss" - and who are we to argue with chocolate gourmand Ruth Reichl.

You want to woo someone with the same ardency of Teena Marie and Rick James? Think about the "Fire & Ice Chocolate Martini Mix." Make it hot, cold, or frozen - just make it strong. The rich chocolate base is blended with cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, and a few other in-house secrets - and when mixed with milk or cream or vodka, or all of the above, the result is as aphrodisiacal as Barry White in the back of a stretch limo.

And if, for some strange reason, that elixir doesn’t do the trick, there’s also Coston’s "box of bliss," a quartet of infused chocolates that ooze seasonal flavors such as pumpkin, pear William, cranberry, cinnamon caramel - or any customized flavor that your seduction routine requires.

It’s no wonder these 2 Chick with Chocolate consider themselves an amalgam of Willy Wonka and Samantha from Sex in the City. Available at sinful locales such as the recently-opened Chocolate Library in the East Village, as well as Ballys, Harrah’s, and Caesars in Atlantic City, anything by 2 Chicks with Chocolate makes a deliciously, seductive gift.

PRICE: $9.95 / Fire & Ice Chocolate Martini Mix
$7.95 / 2 Chicks Mini Collection
LINK: 2 Chicks with Chocolate



It’s hard to remember, but once upon a time people washed their hands with soap and water - rather than a squirt of hand sanitizer.

Those ubiquitous sanitizers have become an urban addiction - and while hand hygiene is laudable, over-frequent use of the alcohol-based sanitizers kills even the good bacteria on the skin, while also aggravating cuts and scrapes.

And yet who wants to catch the flu? What to do?

GetGlovd has one solution: a pair of bamboo gloves that are nearly as soft and silky as cashmere.

Bamboo? That’s right: as anyone who’s been to Fire Island will attest, bamboo is fast growing, as well as highly sustainable. Bamboo regenerates without replanting. And when bamboo is processed into fiber, the resultant textiles are both UV-resistant and anti-bacterial.

Phenomenal, right? Made of 100% processed bamboo fiber without any harmful chemicals, GetGlovd are both anti-bacterial and hypoallergenic, thanks to a manufacturing process similar to the one that produces linen from flax.

Perhaps even more important than saving the planet and preventing the flu, a pair of GetGlovd enables you to work your cell without losing your fingers to frostbite. And you don’t want your Valentine to go missing a finger.

PRICE: $19.99
LINK: GetGlovd


Jaira Lima : Kama Sutra The Getaway Kit

If Beckham does it (and Enrique Iglesias), well then, you know it’s a man thing.

Waxing. We’re talking about waxing.

If you’re looking for that sexy, smooth look, you might think about getting your Valentine’s a Brazilian wax. Jaira Lima Brazilian Wax Salon works to insure that men are manscaped and groomed with an array of hard, soft, and sugar waxes to minimize pain (unless pain is your thing, in which case, go for it).

Follow up that wax with the Kama Sutra Getaway Kit, a dop kit packed with travel-sized containers of sensuous elixirs, including Sweet Honeysuckle Honey Dust (complete with feather applicator...), Vanilla Creme Oil of Love, Love Liquid lubricant, French Vanilla Creme Body Souffle, and a scented candle.

Infused with pure essential oils and fortified with skin-nourishing Vitamin E, the Kama Sutra Getaway Kit is what helped Stella get her groove back. Okay, we made that up - but it could happen to you.

PRICE: $27.99
LINK: Jaira’s Brazilian Wax
Kama Sutra The Getaway Kit


A long-term New Yorker and a member of New York Travel Writers Association, Mark Thompson has also lived in San Francisco, Boston, Provincetown, D.C., Miami Beach and the south of France. The author of the novels WOLFCHILD and MY HAWAIIAN PENTHOUSE, he has a PhD in American Studies and is the recipient of fellowships at MacDowell, Yaddo, and Blue Mountain Center. His work has appeared in numerous publications.


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