After the January detox and ritual breaking of New Year’s resolutions, February brings the Romance of Valentine’s Day.
According to Wikipedia, the day is named after one or more early Christian martyrs named Saint Valentine, and was established by Pope Gelasius I in 496 AD, becoming first associated with romantic love in the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer during the High Middle Ages, when the tradition of courtly love flourished.
However, of far more importance, is how to woo that special person with something appropriately impressive and indulgent, so here are four wines, all suitable for some serious Valentine’s wooing.
Best with food – Angas Brut Rosé NV, £9.50 Cambridge Wine Merchants
This is a classy and elegant pink fizz from Australia, using the two main Champagne grapes, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Like Champagne, it undergoes secondary fermentation in the bottle, giving a rich, leesy depth of flavour.
Salmon pink in the glass, it foams with a fine mousse; there are aromas of red berries and a touch of yeastiness on the nose. The palate is extremely elegant and smooth with a hint of red-berry fruit sweetness, a creamy texture and a fresh acidity.
It finishes dry, crisp and savoury, so will work well as an aperitif or just a Romantic indulgence a deux. However, if you are planning to make an evening of it, it will also match with food such as salmon, meaty white fish or even roast chicken.
This month, we welcome a new-comer to Wine of The Month in the shape of Charles Hardcastle, proprietor of Joseph Barnes wines in the pretty and genteel village of Saffron Walden, just a short drive south of Cambridge.
This Ameztoi Rubentis is perhaps the most unusual wine here – made from the Hondarrabi Zuri and Hondarrabi Beltza grapes, it is from Spain’s Basque region.
With a petillant spritz, it is pale pink in the glass with aromas of red berries, watermelon and something aromatic.
On the palate, there is also a touch of minerality and just a hint of something bitter – either grapefruit or perhaps quinine, as FringeWine notes – but overall this is a light, easy quaffer with elegant red berries and fresh acidity balanced with a touch of fruit sweetness.
The delicate fruit here will be overpowered by most foods, so plan on sipping this in the most Romantic of circumstances – but if food is required, salmon or tuna sushi would be a good match for the fresh acidity.
Best with something sweet – Innocent Bystander Pink Moscato, £6.99 (37.5 cl) Noel Young Wines
Another wine from Oz in the European style, this Pink Moscato is a dead ringer for an Italian semi-sweet frizzante.
On the nose there are red berries and watermelon whilst the palate shows fresh strawberry fruit, a hint of red fruit gums, a touch of elderflower and a delightful sweetness and fresh acidity; it is almost a grown-up raspberry elderflower lemonade.
With a gentle mousse and a pleasingly balanced finish, this is an elegant and accomplished antipodean wine – think Nicole Kidman rather than Hugo Weaving in Priscilla.
Although light, this wine has enough weight on the palate to match with fruit-based desserts and rather incongruously (perhaps ironically ?), it’s sealed with a crown-top.
The most immediately noticeable thing about this this Italian Spumante is the shocking pink / fuchsia foil and label, set against a blacked-out bottle.
Beneath lies a pink, charmat-method sparkler which foams enthusiastically on pouring – there are aromas of pink grapefruit and hoppiness, whilst the palate shows redcurrant fruit and sweet pears.
Clearly, with their pink hues, bubbles and even sweetness, none of these wines is intended to be particularly serious – but they all demonstrate that making a romantic and frivolous gesture does not mean having to dumb down on quality; they are all good wines in their own right and make for a gentle return to oenology after the traditional month of abstinence.
And as we are all so loved-up this month, it would be churlish to single out any individual wine as a winner – simply choose the one that best suits your occasion, mood and loved one’s preferences.
And don’t forget to buy her some flowers, as well – just preferably not from a garage forecourt.
Bacchanalia – www.winegod.co.uk
Cambridge Wine Merchants – www.cambridgewine.co.uk
Joseph Barnes Wines – www.josephbarneswines.com
Noel Young Wines – www.nywines.co.uk
Image Credit: The Art of Wooing – http://rosebud-design.blogspot.com/
Copyright Tom Lewis 2012
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