Dear Cyril: 1987 Vina Ardanza should get the message across. But it has a soft touch underneath that fiery label: a wonderful rich, penetrating, wild strawberry flavour. Actually, Ardanza doesn't really mean "ardent". It's the name of one of the families who founded La Rioja Alta winery, home of Vina Ardanza, 100 years ago. But she'll never know. Stockists include: pounds 9.21 Laymont & Shaw of Truro (mail order, 01872 70545); pounds 9.45 selected Sainsbury and the largest Tesco and Tesco Metro stores; pounds 9.99 Wine Cellar and Berkeley Wines).
Dear Grapevine: Henry loves his red Burgundy. I'd like to buy him something special for Valentine's Day. Mostly we drink Rousseau's Gevrey-Chambertin from Fortnum's at pounds 23.75 a bottle. What do you recommend? Lucinda Legge
Dear Lucinda: It has to be Chambolle Musigny Premier Cru Les Amour-euses. The village of Chambolle Musigny is only three miles away from Gevrey- Chambertin, right among the finest reds of the Cote de Nuits. There's a lovely velvety, fragrant 1990 Chambolle Musigny Les Amoreuses (pounds 45 per bottle Morris & Verdin of London SE1) made by Jacques-Frederic Mugnier, and oil man turned winemaker. Freddy Mugnier also made the lovely 1987 Chambolle Musigny Les Amoureuses, Chateau de Chambolle Musigny (pounds 34 a bottle, by the case only, Howard Ripley Wines of London N21).
Dear Grapevine: I'm tired of being subtle. I'm looking for a Valentine wine that will simply tell him that I love him. (If that doesn't work, I'll need another bottle for when I propose on 29 February.) Jane Smith
Dear Jane: At our own wedding, we served the 1985 vintage of Georges Duboeuf's Beaujolais Cru Saint Amour, Domaine du Paradis. The current, 1993 vintage is less wonderful, but the 1993 St Amour Cuvee St Valentin, Domaine du Paradis is fairly rich and fruity (pounds 6.99 Le Nez Rouge, London N7 and Pagendam Pratt of Wetherby). The label has an attractive, flowery- abstract painting of a heart. 1993 St Amour, Domaine du Paradis, Georges Duboeuf (same price, same stockists) would do for the 29th. Saint Amour is a village in the Beaujolais hills, north of Lyon, named after St Amateur, a Roman centurion turned Christian who found refuge on the spot when fleeing from persecution.
Dear Grapevine, He loves mature claret, more, probably, than he loves me, but I'm broke. Help. Prudence Redbank
Dear Prudence: Borrow a decanter, or thoroughly scrub out an old vase. Then buy a bottle of 1986 Special Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Dealul Mare, Rovit (pounds 3.05 Morrisons) and gently pour it in just before he arrives (old wines often deteriorate if opened and decanted too soon). He may not normally be impressed by Romanian wine, but this one tastes pounds more expensive than it is with its mature flavours of cedar and tobacco, and heaps of ripe, blackcurrant fruit.
Dear Grapevine, I want to woo her with Champagne, but I can't afford the big names. Kim Flint
Dear Kim: Maybe this busts your budget, but I'd go for the Waitrose Brut Vintage 1989 (pounds 14.95), excellent value for Champagne of this quality, quite toasty and fairly rich (because 1989 was a very ripe vintage for the cool-climate Champagne region). Not quite as good but a little cheaper, two runners-up are Sainsbury's Extra Dry Champagne (pounds 12.95) and a soft, subtle Champagne Bonnet Brut Prestige (pounds 12.99 on special offer until 10 March, normally pounds 13.89, Kwik Save).
Dear Grapevine: I've been saving up for a lovely bottle of pink Champagne to give my Cyril on Valentine's Day. Which one should I buy? Florence Damper
Dear Florence: You can't beat Lanson Brut Rose. It normally costs between pounds 22.49 and pounds 23.99 a bottle, but it's on special offer at pounds 17.49 at Thresher, Wine Rack, Bottoms Up, Wine Cellar, Berkeley Wines and Victoria Wine Cellars - but note that ordinary Victoria Wine Shops still have it at the higher price. This is delicious but not frivolous rose, with its toasty, chocolatey, malty flavours. But Florence, my dear, are you sure Cyril wouldn't prefer something a little more full-blooded, not to say ardent?Reuse content