As Valentine's Day approaches, it is time to make an effort to find wines that are both delicious and suitable for the occasion. I like to move away from classical choices like Rosé Champagne, in favour of something that has required a little more thought, yet is readily available. Rosè wine, with its romantic hue, is an obvious choice, but we shouldn’t exclude others. My recommendation, if staying at home, is to put on a wine tasting for your partner. Not only will it spark conversation, but it will add an element of interaction to your evening.
Below is a selection of wines that I feel match the occasion perfectly.
Hola! Mediterraneo Brut Rosé NV - £15 from Laithwaites
Start with this as an aperitif as it greets you just as warmly as its name suggests. This is like a romance – full of excitement, colour, and vivacity. It's the kind of wine that doesn't just sit in your glass; it dances. Bursting with fruity berry notes and a playful character it is delicious and the perfect way to wake your senses up for the evening’s tasting. Made near Barcelona from Macabeo, Xarel-lo and Pinot Noir, it is light in alcohol at 8.5% and takes you back to warm summer evenings. It might be an ideal time to start thinking of summer holiday locations over a glass of this. The bottle’s modern design is very appealing.
Whispering Angel Provence Rosé 2022 - £21 from Waitrose and Sainsbury
Stretching from the Mediterranean coast to the foothills of the Alps, the Provencal climate is typically Mediterranean, characterised by hot, dry summers and mild winters, which is ideal for grape growing. The region is synonymous with rosé, producing more than half of France's Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC) rosé wines. The rosés from Provence are known for their pale, pink colour, achieved through a short maceration period where the grape skins are in contact with the juice for a brief time.
Whispering Angel has been made by Sacha Lichine, the “Golden Boy” of Provence, who has used modern winemaking techniques, barrel maturation and lees stirring to create this wine, which has become something of a benchmark for the region.
It has a pale, rosé colour, with delicate aromas of red berries, cherry and citrus. There is a beautiful acidity which the creamy texture balances well with. It is full of soft summer fruits such as raspberry and strawberry on the palate, making it the perfect accompaniment to a seafood starter. It is so fresh and delicious and lives up to its reputation as one of the finest Rosé of Provence.
Quinta da Pedra Alta, Reserva Tinto 2019 - £27.95 from Cellar Door Wines
This is from the Douro region of northern Portugal, which is one of the world's oldest wine regions, and mostly known for Port (which is coming next). Having been officially demarcated in 1756, it is one of the first legally defined wine regions globally.
Geographically, the Douro Valley is characterised by its rugged, mountainous terrain with the Douro River winding through it. This landscape creates a unique microclimate and terroir, which significantly influences the quality and character of the wines. The vineyards are typically planted on picturesque steep terraces, so it could be an ideal holiday location (or weekend away) if you hadn’t decided on one over the Hola!
It has a deep ruby colour with a hint of purple at the edge. On the nose, blackberries and dark cherries are prominent with vanilla and oak. As the wine opens up, secondary aromas of black pepper, liquorice, and a hint of Mediterranean herbs, like rosemary and thyme appear. It is full-bodied, with flavours mirroring the nose – ripe black fruits, complemented by spice and a touch of earthiness. The finish has a lovely hint of dark chocolate, making it perfect to have with venison or a beef main course.
Quinta da Pedra Alta No. 10 Tawny Port - £24.99 from Taurus Wines
Tawny Ports are aged in wooden barrels, often for many years. This ageing process not only imparts the characteristic tawny colour but the prolonged exposure to wood and gradual oxidation creates a Port that is less fruity, but often more complex compared to its ruby counterparts. From the same producer as the red wine, the nose opens with rich notes of dried fruits, like figs and raisins, intertwined with nuances of roasted nuts and a hint of caramel. Having been In the glass for a few minutes, subtle layers of cinnamon, vanilla, and a touch of orange peel emerged.
It is smooth with a velvety texture, with flavours of dried fruits, toasted almonds, ripe figs, and sweet spices. The sweetness is balanced with acidity, preventing it from being cloying, making it the perfect choice to accompany a chocolate fondant (if you are brave enough to make it) and then a couple of your favourite English cheeses. I suggest Montgomery Cheddar.
Cave de Turckheim NV - £13.99 from Waitrose
Coming from the picturesque village of Turckheim in Alsace, this Crémant d'Alsace might be another sparkling wine, but why not indulge - it is Valentine’s Day after all. Made in the same way as Champagne, this has a straw-yellow hue with lively, fine bubbles. On the nose, there is a bouquet of floral and fruity aromas, including green apples, ripe pears, and a hint of citrus zest, with hints of elderflower. A light touch of brioche is also present.
There is a lively acidity that will bring your palate back after the meal with apples and pears still present. It has a creamy texture and is the perfect way to toast your relationship long into the evening.