Next Friday is St Valentine’s Day so today’s post is all about wine to drink on that traditionally romantic day.
Rather quaintly, my mother always called 14 February “the birds’ wedding day” – to her generation, it was only alphabetically that nesting could precede nuptials!
The saint himself goes back much further than even largely outdated views like hers.
Saint Valentine was a Roman priest executed over 1800 years ago who would be as mystified as I am about how his name came to be linked with drinking substantial quantities of pink wine.
Enough history though, let’s look at some wines.
Whatever form your own celebration takes, one or more of these selections should suit the occasion.
Shall we start with Fizz?
Essential mood music for romantic occasions is surely the pop of sparkling wine corks.
Laurent Perrier Cuvée Rosé (£50 – instead of £60 until 2 March – at M&S and 12%)
If your celebration is a special one, then splash out a bit on this delightfully mellow champagne with strawberry, cherry and raspberry fruit, a good mousse and neat herbal touches in the background.
Hard-nosed MidWeekers will note that this is currently on offer but obviously (I hope) don’t shatter the romantic atmosphere by saying so!
Les Pionniers Rosé Champagne (£20 – down from £22 until 18 February – at the Co-op and 12%)
Significantly less expensive but a very respectable bottle indeed is this pinot noir led Co-op exclusive pink champagne, which is from the same stable (and almost as good as) as their fantastic Pionniers Brut.
Note the nicely balanced strawberry and red cherry fruit on display here which is enlivened by good acidity and complemented by savoury – almost brioche – depth.
Freixenet Ice Rosé (currently £9 – instead of £11 – at Asda and 12%)
If you just want to add a modicum of sparkle to the day and are fans of prosecco, give this cava a try – although Spanish wine purists should look away now!
Presumably to grab a slice of the prosecco market, this has more residual sugar than much cava but is designed to go “on the rocks” and those ice cubes do take the edge off that sweetness.
Instead, the emphasis goes on its attractive, floral raspberry and mandarin fruit and good acidity to provide straight forward, unpretentious sparkling wine.
Remember though, Asda’s “Rollback” price reductions like this one often end suddenly.
2019 Santa Julia Plus Malbec Rosé (£7.50 – instead of £9 until 16 February – at Sainsbury’s and 13.5%)
For a conventional (non-sparkling rosé) seek out this malbec based version from Mendoza which, for me, is seriously good for the money.
Light coloured and floral, it has soft red cherry and cranberry fruit coupled with bold grapefruit acidity and suggestions of clove and rhubarb.
2018 Estandon Lumiére (£9 at Asda and 12.5%)
Meanwhile, Europe’s rosé capital must, surely, be somewhere in Provence where winemakers are skilled at securing the most delicate flavours and colour for their wine (notice, incidentally, how rosés on retailers’ shelves are getting paler and paler in colour).
Light in colour of course – and with aromas and flavours that open slowly, this guy has fine-spun cherry fruit with good acidity that leads into a long finish containing hints of savoury spices.
To find background details to rosé and a helpful guide on the different ways of making it, follow this link to simply expressed explanation.
2018 Exquisite Touraine Sauvignon Blanc (£5.89 at Aldi and 12.5%)
If you want nothing to do with this rosé fad but still want a subtle yet tasty wine for the day, here is an excellent Loire sauvignon from a less fashionable area than Sancerre – a fact which, happily, is reflected in its price.
I really enjoy the soft, classy, apple and lime fruit on display here especially as it is nicely supported by sherbet acidity with grassy, green pepper touches yet is significantly less assertive than New Zealand versions of the grape variety.
2018 Tesco Finest Central Otago Pinot Noir (£13 at Tesco and 13.5%)
For a red wine option that will grace any special occasion, I recommend this award winning (Gold at IWC) New Zealand pinot noir made by Villa Maria that (pound for pound) compares very favourably with Burgundian pinot noir.
Pale in colour, it has juicy raspberry and pomegranate fruit with good acidity but little tannin and a smooth chocolate and nutmeg background containing those earthy notes that pinot does so well.
Be back on Friday, folks with suggestions about a couple of wines that provide tasty yet modestly priced weekend drinking
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