The day approaches and half the world buys into the commercialised love-in that is Valentine’s Day and the other other half shrinks back and tries to ignores it’s existence. Singles and couples alike wonder what to do on this romantic day in February. But whether you’re going full cliché and getting fizzy with the pink stuff, or sipping anything else for that matter, I’ve got a few tips to get you going, whether you’re in a relationship or not.
Sipping a delicious drop doesn’t always have to involve wine or even involve a lot of alcohol. But if you fancy fizz, without the giddiness, why not try something a bit different. Croft Twistis a refreshing sparkling drink made with Fino Sherry blended with hand-picked elderflower, lemon and mint. But don’t turn your nose up elderflower haters! This drink has really well balanced flavours and is all natural. I’ll be honest and say that I usually turn my nose up at anything involving over fragrant elderflower, but this is great. Pour it from the bottle, over ice and it’s simply delicious. But if you want to try it as the makers intend, add the zest of lemon and a ripped basil leaf for a more intense sensation. Perfect if your date doesn’t want a fuzzy head. And great for a lunchtime date too.
Croft Twist is £7 from Sainsbury’s Waitrose and Ocado.
If you’re going a bit more traditional with your fizz, Majestic Wine Warehouse have a great Prosecco on in stock. Prosecco isn’t my usual favourite but this example is surprisingly luscious. It’s full of ripe pear and has a pleasing roundness and really nice depth to it. It has more flavour than some empty, shallow, generic Proseccos out there.
Alba Luna Prosecco is £12.50 a bottle or £8.99 on the mix six deal.
For more fizz, I also have I have to direct you to the shelves of Co-Op. I am constantly impressed with their own label range of wines and their Les Pionniers Rosé Champagne Brutis vivaciously fun. This cheeky fizz makes me smile every time I sip it and it isn’t too heavy on the pocket (leaving some change for you to buy the ingredients for that shellfish platter you promised your date). There’s a vibrant tang of cranberry and redcurrant with a slightly saline finish, great to enjoy pre-dinner nibbles with, and isn’t too serious like some richer, vintage Champagnes. Oh, and while we’re on the subject of Co-Op rosé, their Coeur de Caredline, from Costières de Nîmes is fantastic if you want a glass of still pink with your starter. The nose reminds me of strawberries and cream, and the taste is full of fleshy ripe strawberry with a spicy, peppery finish.
Les Pionniers Rosé Champagne Brut is £21.99 and Coeur de Caredline Rosé is £9 from your local Co-Op.
- And while we’re on the subject of pink fizz, M&S have Graham Beck “The Rhona” Rosè on the shelves from South Arica. At £15 a bottle, this fun bottle is great with smoked salmon blinis or a retro prawn cocktail.
If whites are your thing, I encourage you to do what I’ve done recently and embrace Sauvignon Blanc. I often overlook the grape as I find it can be the easy choice, and I often leave it on the shelf in favour of more interesting blends that excite me more. I’m also pretty keen to save my favourite Sauvignon Blanc recommendations until asparagus season is here as it can be a great match with the beloved green spear. That said, I have however tasted a couple of incredible examples recently that I wanted to share. Jackson Estate in Marlborough, New Zealand is producing superb Sauvignon Blanc with amazing diversity. Jackson Estate Stichis just the most beautiful and elegant Sauvignon Blanc. It’s heavenly citrus flavours aren’t lip-pursingly acidic like some of the more full-on exapmles of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, but it is refreshing and luxurious on the palate. I have recently taste the 2018 vintage which will be on the shelves soon but in the meantime, the 2017 is the perfect drop for an evening in.
But if you think you now Sauvignon Blanc, think again, because Jackson Estate Grey Ghost Barrique Sauvignon Blancis something else! The wine has a little barrel age (50% is fermented in 6yr+ French oak barriques and then has a further 8 months in barrel before blending) which means that It’s a totally different fish to the Sauvignon Blanc your used to. The texture and flavour is richer but it still retains the grapes’ unique vibrancy. It’s not liked oaked Chardonnay, it has its’ own individual character. It is so deliciously moreish, you’ve got to give it a go. It would be perfect if you’re roasting turbot or pan frying halibut in cpar butter.
Stich is £13.50 in Waitrose, Ocado, Majestic, Booths and CostCo and Grey Ghost is £19 from Ocado, Majestic, Cheers Wine Merchants and Whitmore & White.
And as we’re moving on to red, the Jackson Estate have some divine Pinot Noirs too. Look out for Vintage Widow Pinot Noir (£21 in Ocado, Majestic and Cheers Wine Merchants)which exhibits bright, vibrant hedgerow fruit and Gum Emperor Pinot Noirwhich is super mellow and mouth-wateringly delicious (£25 in Christopher Piper Wines and Cheers Wine Merchants).
Now, how about a sparkling red? Tesco Finest Lambrusco Frizzante is an interesting drop. It’s from the vineyards of Emilia Romagna. Yes, this wine is going to split opinion with it’s deep woody and fruity nose. It’s a soft and fruity fizzy red wine, which tastes great at room temperature or slightly chilled. It’s deep red hedgerow fruit and blackcurrant jamminess is really fun and I’m a real fan of its gentle sweetness too. It’s not for everyone, but if fancy being cheeky with a date and surprising them, try this with an Asian style beef stir fry. It’s a real treat.
Finest Lambrusco is £7 from Tesco.
And if you want a drop of pure red class with an indulgent steak, Asda has a great drop. Their Extra Special Barolois a real treat. It’s made from Nebbiolo from Piedmont and is oak aged which gives at a glorious slightly brown/red colour and a velvety texture. It has a luxurious teath-coatingly tannic nature and has dried fruit charm all over it. The peppery finish is delightful and will be a hit with any red wine lover.
Extra Special Barolo is £16.98 fromn Asda.