Is it really wise to present the object of your affections with a bottle of booze on Valentine's Day?
Not only do you run the risk of looking like a lech (Ogden Nash's oft-quoted 'candy is dandy but liquor is quicker' comes to mind), but it can also look like you've dashed out to the off-license after work in a mad panic.
Both may be true, but you still need to shop - and drink - carefully if you want to seduce rather than repel your beloved. Well-chosen wine, a luxurious spirit or even the cliched bottle of champagne are all better options than a six-pack of whatever was cheapest at the mini-mart.
Even if you do consider February 14 to be a completely commercial construct created by florists and greeting card companies, there's no better time to spread the love than during a recession. You don't need to spend the rent money on flowers or chocolates (though based on previous experience, she'd rather get nothing than a plastic rose), but you should embrace the chance to cast off the great British reserve and express your feelings. As a stroll down any UK high street on a weekend night will prove, alcohol can be a great help.
Believe it or not, the tradition of sending love tokens actually originated in the UK. Geoffrey Chaucer noted that February 14 was a special day for lovers in 1382, while the practice of sending Valentine notes became de rigeur in 19th century London.
Rather than treating your dearest one to a bunch of gas station carnations, splash out on a bottle of homegrown fizz from the award-winning Chapel Down winery in Kent.
Chapel Down's Vintage Reserve Brut (RRP £17.99) is a very classy drop, just perfect for a cosy dinner for two. It's available from Waitrose and Selfridges, or visit www.englishwinesgroup.co.uk to buy it by the case at a discounted rate.
It's not quite the same as serving up a glass of champagne with a diamond ring sparkling in the bottom, but the new Goldschlager cinnamon schnapps certainly makes a glittering statement.
This sweet and spicy Swiss liqueur contains flakes of real 24-carat gold, and is available from the www.thedrinkshop.com, priced £20.89.
While it's a fun cocktail ingredient, I think it's best served as a straight shot. Just be careful to warn her if you've plopped some wearable gems in the glass.
Are you the shy sort? Now you can spell out your intentions with a personalised bottle of wine from The Original Gift Company (0844 482 1717/www.originalgift.co.uk).
Their selection includes 10 wines from California, France, New Zealand, Chile and South Africa, plus a French champagne. Prices start from about £5 for a bottle of wine, up to about £40 for a bottle of champagne and six handblown hollow stem flutes.
All you have to do is decide on the message - but please proceed with caution if it's going to be delivered to them at work.
Finally, it might scream 'I have no imagination' but if you do get caught out you could do worse than the traditional fizz and chocolates combo.
If money's no object, Berry Bros & Rudd have an incredibly lavish Krug Rose gift set, which comes complete with the champagne, a pink Moleskine notebook and French chocolates and almonds from Laduree, for £100. Call 0870 900 4300 or visit www.bbr.com to order.
At the more sensible end of the scale, Sainsbury's has a special offer on the pretty-in-pink Codorniu Original Rosado and a box of Thorntons Premium Collection chocolates. The cava alone usually retails for about £12, but between February 4-17 you can grab the two for just £10. Just don't wave the receipt around - there's no greater turn-off than a tightwad.
DRINK THIS: I'm in two minds about Valentine's Day. I don't want a cheesy night out, but I don't want to be totally neglected either. My beloved will have had a hard day at the office coalface on February 14, so I think I'll put on my apron and whip up a feast for two at home, accompanied by a bottle of De Bortoli Windy Peak Pinot Noir 2008.
This vibrant Yarra Valley drop is the perfect match for a rustic winter stew - and it's a heart-warming £7.99 from Sainsbury's. Who said romance was dead?