They say that the way to the heart is through the stomach and certainly a cosy meal for two is often top choice with couples out celebrating Valentine's Day.

But if that can be taken to apply to drink as well as food then Wetherspoon's pubs could prove an ideal date location on February 14.

The pub chain is launching a Gin Festival on Valentine's Day with a huge range of options including overseas brands, unique flavours and liqueurs. What's more, it will run for 17 days until March 1 so that pretty much everyone will have time to sample what's on offer.

The festival will take place at 11 J D Wetherspoon pubs around Newcastle and the North East as well as more across the country. On sale will be a range of gins costing from £2.75 to £3.99 for a single measure and including a free mixer.

Customers will be able to pick up 'tasting notes' about the gins which, in addition to each pub's usual selection, will  include up to 14 types from across the UK and Italy.

Among the British varieties will be Aber Falls Gingerbread Gin Liqueur; Didsbury Gin Strawberry and Sicillian Lemon; Slingsby Marmalade Gin; Whitley Neill Blackberry Gin and Hawthorn's London Dry Gin. There also will be a Mor Irish Gin from the Republic of Ireland and, from Italy, a Malfy Gin Rosa.

"We have sourced an excellent range of gins, a number of which have not previously been available in the pub," said Kristopher Lee, manager of Wetherspoon's Newcastle Quayside branch at The Close which is amongst those taking part.

"We are confident that our customers will enjoy the different gins which each have their own unique appeal."

Among the flavours adding a twist to the gin range will be ginger and cinnamon, strawberry, grapefruit, rhubarb, marmalade, watermelon, berries and orange blossom.

And the range of tonics to pair with them will include Valencian orange; elderflower and pink grapefruit tastes, while other mixer options which can work with the various spirits include apple juice; bitter lemon; fizzy rhubarb; ginger ale and lemonade. Nor are non-alcohol drinkers forgotten, with the likes of Caleño Juniper and Inca Berry drinks adding new ideas to try.

Wetherspoon's Gin Festival will run from February 14 until March 1 at pubs in and around Newcastle and, besides the Quayside branch, these will be The Five Swans in St Mary’s Place - which is set to open, just in time, following its extensive refurbishment- as well as The Keel Row in Newgate Street and The Mile Castle in Westgate Road, all within the city centre, plus The High Main in Shields Road, Byker, and The Job Bulman in St Nicholas Avenue, Gosforth.

Others taking part will be The Red Lion in Front West Street, Bedlington, Northumberland; The Ritz in High Street West, Wallsend; The Fire Station in York Road, Whitley Bay, and - in Gateshead - The Tilley Stone in Jackson Street and the Wetherspoon's in the Metrocentre.