Thanks to Coronavirus, use of video chat apps has exploded – and not just for work purposes. Couples (and singles looking for a partner) are seeing the benefits of staying in touch via video link for those times they can’t meet in person.

But it does take some getting used to.

Ideas for Zoom or FaceTime dates are endless, but sometimes it makes sense to go back to basics and the tried-and-true classic date night: dinner and wine.

Here’s how to make it work.

1. Set the scene with some props

The good thing about a video date is that you don’t have to dash around tidying up for the visit – you only have to take care of what’s visible in the frame (though if you can go the extra mile and tidy your apartment, go for it – you never know if your date will request a virtual tour).

To create a romantic restaurant vibe at home, try to find these items:

  1. A white cloth napkin – a restaurant staple that will make you feel extra fancy
  2. Flowers (fresh or fake) can really elevate your space – and they’ll look gorgeous on your nightstand afterwards!
  3. Candles – super affordable from your local grocery store or Amazon (don’t forget the matches)

2. Pick a great wine

Wine tasting doesn’t have to be stuffy; it can actually be great fun and a talking point for your date. Pick a great bottle (and have your partner do the same), watch some YouTube videos about wine tasting and then bring out your inner wine critic as you dine – bonus points for whoever can produce the most creative description.

If you don’t know where to start, a service like Majestic Wine’s ‘wine fitting’ service is a good place to go for unpretentious (and free!) advice. You could even go for one of their free wine tasting events to learn more.

3. Put on some restaurant-worthy music

A gentle soundtrack is an essential part of bringing that upmarket restaurant feel into your home. Find some jazz, lounge or classical music on YouTube or Spotify for the perfect background noise to your virtual date.

A tip: this isn’t going to work if you both do it – the two tracks will clash and sound confusing! Instead, decide beforehand who is handling the music choice, or use an app to sync it up.

4. To cook or not to cook?

If you really want restaurant quality food and the luxury of not cooking, you could order in your food from your favourite restaurant via Deliveroo or a similar app.

Plenty of supermarkets also have dinner deals where you can get a main course, side, dessert (and sometimes drink) for a tenner and usually require nothing more than heating in the oven.

If you’re feeling a bit more ambitious, you and your partner could agree on a particular recipe and each create it yourselves before logging in to eat together.

5. Have a back-up plan for your WiFi

How vital this is depends on the strength of your internet connection, but the last thing you want is for your WiFi to fail at the crucial moment and for your dinner to get cold as you wait for it to sort itself out.

If your phone has a data plan, use this as a backup – either by tethering your phone to your computer, or just by using your phone for the call in the meantime.

To keep it hands free, you could invest in a gooseneck phone holder, allowing you to keep on eating whilst you chat and wait patiently for the WiFi to recover.

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