Will you be spending Valentine’s Day – this year falling on a pretty humdrum Tuesday – with your loved one, friends or yourself? All equally satisfying options so long as the company is good. Valentine’s Day gets a bad rap:out of all the days of the year to grandly express your love, it’s the one day that often ends up feeling coerced, overpriced and veering on schmaltzy.
You may be adamant that 14 February is a day you’d rather miss altogether, after all who wants to pay through the nose for average-looking flowers, chocolate and Champagne?
And why isn’t there a day to celebrate being single and free? But I feel there’s a small part in all of us that still wants some sort of recognition to be given, however microscopic to our inner Valentine.
egardless of which side you’re coming from, we can all agree it’s intimate, and a bit of a treat, to open up a bottle of something special on the day – each sip recalling a memory of your first date, a care-free holiday with friends under the Tuscan sun, or just total relief the day is over and you can enjoy the slow calm of the evening ahead.
I don’t think you have to get caught up in the frenzy of overspending on Valentine’s Day. There are affordable options with great quality, if you take the time to look. So create a memory that makes you feel special this year. Show yourself, or another, the colour of your love with these pink and red options.
Dumangin Fils. Brut Rosé
An attractive, delicate pink in colour, with wild raspberry on the nose and palate, this is a blend of 50 per cent Chardonnay, 40 per cent Pinot Noir and 10 per cent Pinot Meunier. Fine bubbles and an unexpectedly saline, tangy finish beautifully balance out the red-fruit juiciness.
Domaine des Rouges-Queues Maranges 1er Cru Clos Roussots, Burgundy 2013
In the tiny village of Sampigny-les-Maranges, at the southern end of Burgundy’s Côte de Beaune lies Domaine des Rouges-Queues. Husband-and-wife team, Isabelle and Jean-Yves Vantey started the vineyard in 1998 with only one hectare of Pinot Noir. A labour of love, they have now expanded to six hectares across eight different appellations, working with biodynamic methods since 2008. This Burgundy is fresh and light-bodied with a flourish of juicy red cherry and raspberry, framed by structured tannins. Perfect with some light conversation.
Dominique Piron, Saint-Amour, Beaujolais 2015
One of the 10 Cru villages producing superior Beaujolais, Saint-Amour is the most northerly and this 2015 from Dominique Piron is a well-priced example of the complexity and elegance Beaujolais is capable of. Made from old-vine Gamay, this is ripe with crunchy berries and a touch of violet. Medium-bodied and well structured, this is a great match for cosy dishes including lamb chops, grilled pork or cassoulets.
Albert Levasseur Extrait Gourmand Brut Rosé
From grandparents to grandson, Albert Levasseur is a small grower house, founded in 1944. Now run by grandson David, who blends predominantly Meunier and Chardonnay grapes with 20 per cent from Pinot Noir, a small portion of which is taken from the red wine of Coteaux Champenois (the AOC for still wine production in the same Champagne region). On opening the stylish, opaque bottle, the pale salmon-pink liquid reveals mature notes of green fruit, cherry, seductive strawberries and vanilla. With a relatively higher dosage of 10g/L, and full of flavour, this is one to crack open with a good spread of sushi, or aromatic and spicy dishes from India, Thailand or China.
Graham Beck, Brut Rosé NV
A great-value sparkling rosé, this is perfectly suited to enjoy with main courses or canapés – or to knock back all on its own. Crucially it’s easy to get hold of in the UK, making it even more perfect for those last-minute gifts and impromptu celebrations. It is made in the traditional method from hand-picked grapes from Robertson, Franschhoek and Stellenbosch, with sufficient bottle age to reveal notes of crushed red berries, cherry and raspberry. The fruit is perfectly balanced with refreshing acidity, leaving a deliciously moreish finish.
Nuria Stylianou is a WSET-qualified wine and spirits columnist. Email her on email@example.com and follow her on Twitter and Instagram @nu_on_the_vine