Wines for Valentines Day

Planning an elaborate home cooked banquet or perhaps just a glass or two before heading out?

Maybe it’s simply to pick up a bottle on the way back from work. Whichever, Valentine’s Day provides a great excuse to pop some celebratory bubbles and the good news is that there’s something on the shelves for everyone.

Wine pouring at Terre a Terre, Brighton

The traditional ideal would be to opt for a sparkling rosé; champagne of course springs to mind immediately but on this occasion our first two choices are home grown, from Sussex vineyards.

Albourne wine estate - Great British Charcuterie

Wiston Estate’s Vintage Rosé, doesn’t just fit the bill visually, it’s a beautiful wine to drink as well.

Peaches and cream come spliced with a Granny Smith and biscuity crumble. Rich, refined and with just the right amount of sweetness versus acidity. There’s finesse and power in equal measure here. Costing £35.95 it probably features at the higher end of most peoples budget but it’s worth every penny.

Win shop Hove, Cafe Malbec

At around the same price (£32.95) there’s also Ridgeview’s Victoria Vintage Rosé. A delicate pale salmon colour, with subtle hints of honey and toast on the nose.

Semolina restaurant and cafe, Brighton, Ridgeview champagne

The grapes used for this wine are exclusively red, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, so in comparison the wine offers a touch more body than the Wiston; hence there are understated red berry flavours on the palate too.

A polished affair from our friends in Ditchling.

Prosecco – Wines for Valentines Day

Moving away from England to Italy and the focus shifts to Prosecco. A lighter offering, on the palate as well as the pocket.

Al Doumo, Italian Restaurant, Brighton, Gluten Free Dining

There’s an abundance to choose from and quality seems to vary at random. Generally speaking (though there will always be exceptions) it’s worth paying around £8 to £12 for a decent bottle.

Most of the very cheapest will be carbonated by gas injection and don’t taste as pleasant as they could. Frizzante (semi sparkling) examples are gentler then Spumante (sparkling), which house greater pressure; more carbon dioxide. I say go Spumante.

Blush rose wine at Cafe Malbec, Hove

However, an often overlooked wine of a semi sparkling nature is Moscato d’Asti; a fragrant and sweeter alternative, considerably lower in alcohol than the previous wines at around 5.5%. It’s recognized as a dessert wine but if your Valentine’s Day celebrations are starting early then not for nothing is it also viewed as the perfect wine to accompany breakfast (it’s great with fresh strawberries). Fairly priced too, usually at around £7 to £10.

It would be unjust not to recommend some champagne; so out of many and temporarily disregarding cost in the pursuit of love, Iet’s opt for the Bollinger Grand Annee NV Rose at around £50 for a standard bottle but readily available in half bottles as well. Red berries, wild strawberries, flowers and a dusting of chalk meld attractively in an expertly crafted wine. This would pair very well with Lobster.

If you’re looking for a touch more originality then finding a Grower Champagne (denoted on the bottle by RM, Récoltant-Manipulant) comes highly recommended and will more likely be stocked by independent drinks retailers.

Other ideas / food pairing:

Oysters – Ideally go for Chablis or drier examples of champagne as well as Sauvignon Blanc wines evoking a leaner style like Sancerre. The best value option would be in choosing a good Muscadet Sur Lie. Albarino wines and Picpoul de Pinet may also fit the bill.

Copper clam, seafood, restaurant, Brighton, seafront

Asparagus – Richer styles of Chardonnay, though if served with a dressing (as opposed to butter or hollandaise) then opt for Chablis once more and good quality Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire – Sancerre / Pouilly Fumé.

Smoked Salmon equals Champagne and duck is a friend of Pinot Noir.

smoked salmon, brunch, Redroaster, Kemptown, Brighton, cafe

Dark chocolate – For a sweet option this Black Muscat by Andrew Quady pairs excellently. Drier reds made from the Syrah grape (called Shiraz in the New World and generally fuller bodied) can also prove a decent match.

Edible body paint – You’ve probably had enough to drink.

View all the Valentine’s Day menus for Brighton, Hove and Sussex.