Gentle readers, since the inception of this column, I have offered subtle reminders about Valentine’s Day. If there is a significant other in your life, a valentine remembrance might be in order.

Americans spent about $19 billion on Valentine’s Day remembrances last year. One survey found that those observing Valentine’s Day spent an average of $146.84 on various Valentine’s accoutrement. Obviously they did not survey my significant other.

Candy remains the top gift for Valentine’s Day. Fifty percent of those surveyed will buy candy. Four out of ten surveyed will take their significant other out for a special dinner, hopefully with a secured reservation as Valentine’s evening is the busiest restaurant day of the year.

More than 50 percent of those surveyed will purchase greeting cards, and an estimated 85 percent of those will be purchased by women. I guess most men just do not have the time to read through an array of hundreds of cards covering every relationship known to man — even pets. My dog won’t be getting a Valentine’s card; even though he is terribly precious, he has not mastered reading.

Flowers round out the Top 4 gifts. Most of these will be purchased by men, likely at the last minute, though in defense of men, according to statistical data most Valentine purchases are last-minute, day-of purchases.

Though many may think Hallmark invented Valentine’s Day, its origin dates to the 3rd century. Early Christians celebrated the day as a replacement for the pagan holiday of Lupercalia, when among other debauchery, animals were slaughtered in homage to the gods. The flesh of the sacrificial animals was cut into strips, which were then carried through the streets by men and used to hit any women in striking distance. A blow from these skins supposedly rendered women fertile. How romantic.

Romance entered the picture with St. Valentine, a 3rd-century Roman priest who was executed by Claudius II for converting pagans to Christianity. He became known as the saint of engaged couples, beekeepers, young people, happy marriages, epilepsy and the plague, among other things. I don’t know which saint oversees such things today.

There may have been several Valentines known to the ancient church. Their histories were so clouded that in 1969 the Roman Catholic Church removed St. Valentine from the General Roman Calendar. I guess Hallmark did not get the message.

Regardless of all that, Valentine’s Day, the day Jay Leno refers to "Extortion Day," is important to 62 percent of the adult population. So if you have a significant other, go with the majority and spend a bit for a card, flowers, candy, dinner or all of the above.

Though wine does not appear on the list of top Valentine gifts, a special bottle of wine makes an excellent gift.

Historically, Champagne more than any other wine has been linked to romance. Tyson’s Fine Wine and Things in Anniston has a special bottling of Moet & Chandon Nectar Imperial Rosé, a delicious Champagne in a romantic pink color, for $63.

At this time of year, Tyson’s also features artisanal chocolates from famed Atlanta chocolatier Maggie Lyon. Check out the edible, chocolate heart-shaped box filled with chocolate truffles.

For moscato fans, consider Piquitos from Spain, also available at Tyson’s for $10.75. The label looks like a Valentine, featuring a rendering of a heart with flowers.

Moscato lovers should also check out Allure, a wine appropriately named for Valentine’s Day, available at Winn Dixie for $11.99.

For red wine lovers, consider the popular red blend Cupcake Red Velvet, available at most grocery stores in the $10 range. Pair with a red velvet cupcake and a single red rose for a classy Valentine gift well under $146.84.

Contact Pat Kettles at pkettles@annistonstar.com.