Valentine'sDay" class="body-link" data-vars-item-name="BL-9319326-/topic/Valentine'sDay" data-vars-event-id="c6">Valentines Day comes at just the right time to brighten up the middle of what can be the dullest month of the year the festive season is a distant memory, the weather is pretty grim and there are still a few weeks to go before we can feel spring in the air.
And theres not much in the way of seasonal foods shellfish apart perhaps to liven the table prompting us to find some compatible wines.
So, although the day has become horribly commercialised, lets surrender a little to all the pink fluffiness, avoid the often horrible Valentines Day themed menus in restaurants, shut out the cold, light some candles and indulge in some nice food and wine with our loved ones
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And its obviously a great excuse to open a bottle of something sparkling. If it really is a special occasion for the two of you, then a bottle of pink champagne is a must. There are loads of timely big name discount offers on the high street such as the impeccable, refined, red berry flavoured Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Brut Rose NV Champagne (37.49; normally 49.99 until 18 Februarywaitrose.com) or try the more expressive, lighter, chardonnay dominated Ayala Rose Majeur NV (32.50 champagnedirect.co.uk; 33.50 tanners-wines.co.uk).
My personal choice would be a fine English sparkling rose, such as the Ridgeview Fitzrovia NV (35ridgeview.co.uk; 30.56 thedrinkshop.com) made in Sussex by one of the pioneers of English sparkling an elegant bottle, classy carefully made, precise red fruits and hedgerow aromas.
If you are looking for something a little more budget friendly, then try a pink cremant such as the Domaine Langlois-Chateau Cremant de Loire Rose Brut NV (14.95 winedirect.co.uk; 15.25 divinefinewines.co.uk) made in the champagne method, with cabernet franc grapes in the Loire, which gives really fulsome, raspberry and blackcurrant flavours.
All pink sparklings are a great match for seafood, but particularly anything which is also pink, such as lobster, crab or prawns. My view is that mid-February is not really a great time for a chilled still rose, but if thats your preference, there are lots around in lovely, romantically styled bottled, such as the Whispering Angel 2018 (17.99 waitrosecellar.com; ocado.com; various independents) a blend of Grenache, cinsault and vermentino and one of the originators of the trend in upmarket Provencal roses, with its very dry, orange scented flavours and distinctive bottle.
Many other have followed suit, such as the Jean Claude Mas empire [which I wrote about a couple of weeks ago] which has the syrah dominated Jardin de Roses (14.99 sohowine.co.uk) from an estate in Roussillon near Mount Canigou, dry, slightly spicy, but aromatic and lively and stylishly bottled and labelled, with four different rose-themed variants.
Speaking of roses, wine gifts have become increasingly popular at Valentines, as an alternative or indeed an accompaniment to flowers and there are lots out there on the High Street or via online wine merchants, including the Tattinger Rose and Two Glasses (48.75 amazon.co.uk; 55 johnlewis.com) which pairs a bottle from this excellent house with two fine sparkling flutes. There also good ranges here from online wine merchants Virgin and Laithwaites.
But, you say, enough of all this pink fluff, what about a big, meaty red to accompany, say, a fine Chateaubriand for two? Well, of course there are masses to choose from, but and, like those roses, you have to acknowledge the French are pretty good at this sort of thing here is a terrific gift for anyone with interest in mediaeval history and the story of the ill-fatedlove affair between 12th-century theologian Pierre Abelard and abbess Heloise dArgenteul, which has entranced France ever since.
The upmarket, organic and biodynamic boutique Chne Bleu winery, based near Mont Ventoux in Provence, names its flagship wines after the pair: The Chne Bleu Abelard 2010 (49normally 59, until February 18, waitrosecellar.com; 69.30 hedonism.co.uk) is a big, intense, rich, powerful, brooding, special occasion Grenache based blend in typical Rhone style, that needs to be decanted at least two hours before drinking, while the Chne Bleu Heloise 2011 ( 57.00 waitrosecellar.com;67.90 hedonism.co.uk) is Syrah based and lighter and more expressive and fragrant, but still a big, fulsome, concentrated wine. also needing plenty of air before drinking.
Both wines can now be bought in a stylish and elaborately decorated gift box fromHedonism Wines(in-store only) from 167.20 or sent direct from the Chne Bleu wineryhereat 150 (127.24 + shipping) for Ablard & Hlose or 160 (135.66 + shipping) to include a third bottle, Astralabe, named after their son and, naturally, a lighter syrah/Grenache blend. Orders need to be placed by Tuesday, 11 February, for delivery by Friday.
Yes, its all quite pricey, but it makes a change from a bottle of branded Aussie syrah and a bunch of roses from the petrol station, doesnt it?
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