Pink champagne suffers from an image problem. Essentially, the only true difference from "white" champagne is that the skins are allowed to rest in the "must" - the brewing juices - as well as the "clear" inner liquids, with the resultant rose appearance. Traditionally, they have a less dry, more mellow flavour and whilst a favourite with the ladies they have been the poor relation to the whites.

There are a number of excellent Methode Champenoises from many differing sources, and we have felt in the past that if your budget is only around the pounds 10-pounds 15 mark you may get a better result by avoiding the cheaper end of the true Champagne market, where the wines often have a rougher, more acidic taste. But we took the spirit of the occasion into account and tried to push the boat out with some good real champagnes that wouldn't break the bank.

First test was from Marks & Spencer - their Oudinot Rose Brut is reasonably priced and yielded a sharp, light flavour. We tried it with Italian food and it seemed to stand up fairly well. It is lighter and more acidic than the second, Waitrose's own brand rose. This had a fuller-flavoured and mellower taste with very low acidity.

Next was Victoria Wines' Mercier. which delivered a refined and subtle dry flavour. Finally, Safeway have Albert Etienne, a very light delicately pink effort - Brut Rose - which was thoroughly enjoyable.

Starting prices

Waitrose Brut Rose (pounds 13.45) *****

Mercier Brut Rose (pounds 16.49, Victoria Wines) ****

Marks & Spencer Brut Rose (pounds 10.99) ***

Safeway Brut Rose (pounds 13.99) ***

The Nosh Brothers' `Winter Nosh' is on Carlton Food Network on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays

This week's highlights on Carlton Food Network:

Food for Thought (Today 3pm) Erotic food is the subject of today's programme presented by Sarah Greene. Italian chef Aldo Zilli cooks a romantic meal of Angelhair pasta for a Valentine's meal.

The Green Gourmet (Tuesday 3pm) Chef Tony Tobin shows viewers how easy it is to produce delicious vegetarian feasts for all the members of your family. The tasty menu includes vegetable tempura with dipping sauces plus a feature on the history of edible weeds.

Winter Nosh (Friday 3pm) Mick and Nick Nosh cook garlic-stuffed mushrooms and spaghetti with meatballs. Today's dessert is Pear Tarte Tatin. All this is served up in their own inimitable style, with lashings of wit and wisdom.

Comments