If you’re looking to impress your date with wine, it’s best to keep things simple, says Margaret Clancy
Unless you’re in the right frame of mind, restaurants can be a bit smoochy on Valentine’s Day, but a meal cooked by/for one’s (hopeful) beloved is ideal.
But what wine to serve? Of course the straightforward choice is champagne. The bubbles have an effervescent effect on drinkers as well as the glass, and it’s a great ice breaker, but let’s assume the ice is already broken and there’s dinner and romance in the air…
Beware matching the wine to the food too closely; the emphasis might fall on the gastronomic experience rather than on romance and you’re also faced with the prospect that your date might turn up with wine, which you should serve whatever you’ve planned. So much better to look for simple, generic wines, which can be enjoyed rather than being the bedrock of the occasion.
Light reds work well with meat and fish as well as for those of us who like a glass on its own – Beaujolais Villages, chilled a little to tame the sweetness, or a simple pinot noir should do the trick. If you prefer white wines, avoid the sauvignon blanc/chardonnay debate – Valentine’s Day is not the time to find out which side of the divide your date sits on. Instead go for the perfumed, fruity numbers – albarino is a good idea, or try a greco di tufo from Southern Italy.
It’s a little early in the year for rose wines, and besides, there’s something slightly clichéd about pink on February 14, but we make an exception for the totally brilliant version from Majestic – see below.
Finally, if everything is going the way you want it to and you feel the urge to pop the question, it’s time to come back to the bubbles. Have a bottle tucked in the back of the fridge out of site, so that it’s there if you need it. Half bottles are the thing – it’s an occasion you’ll remember for the rest of your lives, so make sure you’re not too tipsy. There are some decent Prosecco halves, but if you can manage it, this is an occasion for the real thing. Make it as elegant as your budget allows…
Beaujolais Villages (France), Waitrose, £7.49
Made by Georges DuBoeuf, it’s a classy little number – lots of lovely sweet fruit, which makes it easy to drink with food and without.
Taste the Difference Pinot Noir Gran Reserva (Chile), Sainsbury's, £7.00
A much earthier wine, more designed with food in mind, but at this price it’s an absolute bargain.
Daydream Pinot Noir (Australia), Waitrose, £7.79
A softer pinot noir with a very smooth finish – and a really pretty label, all to the good on Valentine’s Day.
Hey Rose (Argentina), Majestic, £11.99
It’s not the time of year, really for pink wine, but this has such a brilliant label for Valentine’s Day that it’s worth considering – and the wine inside is surprisingly good – full of fruit and plenty of acidity.
Vina Taboaexa Albarino (Spain), Waitrose, £9.49
A great example of these perfumed, but very upright Spanish wines, assertive without taking the limelight. Full of apples and citrus flavours – it works well as an aperitif wine and with salads and fish.
Taste the Difference Godello 2015 (Spain), Sainsbury's, £8.00
Another perfumed grape from North Western Spain, this time with lots of almond and apricot on the nose. The zesty follow-through will do really well with fish and shellfish.
Taste the Difference Greco di Tufo 2015 (Italy), Sainsbury's, £9.00
An ancient grape variety producing a herby, fragrant wine – slightly off the beaten taste-track, but worth seeking out.
Prosecco Romeo and Juliet (Italy), Majestic, £11.99
I included this purely in the name of romance. Though bottle and name are great, it’s a bit sweet for easy quaffing.
San Leo Rosato (Italy), Waitrose, £5.29 (37.5cl)
Light and fruity, it’s not quite a Prosecco, but it can mark the moment without breaking the bank. Waitrose also sells a sister Prosecco from the same maker and at the same price.
Brut NV Champagne (France), Waitrose, £10.99 (37.5cl)
Entry level for the real thing – for the money it’s remarkably good – plenty of acidity and a nice long finish.
Still thirsty? Check out our Wine Section for more scrumptious pieces like this on
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