Wine to share with your Valentine, from pink fizz to romantic prosecco

Valentine wines 2017

It’s great that when love is in the air you can buy special treats for your Valentine. Even better, you can buy a treat you’ll enjoy too, which is a win win. Or perhaps it’s wine, wine. Here’s some ideas.

Me & Monsieur Jones 2015 (£15.99, www.nakedwines.com, or £11.99 if you’re one of Naked Wines’ investing Angels, 14% abv) Love was in the air when English girl Katie Jones moved to France to make wine and met and married local winemaker Jean-Marc. This wine is a blend of grenache grapes from his vineyard and old vine carignan from hers. It is deep red, velvety, with lush fruity aromas and soft tannins. It’s as cuddlesome and snugly as your Valentine.

If prosecco is your Valentine’s favourite fizz this one fits the theme. Prosecco Romeo & Juliet NV Treviso (£11.99, or £8.99 in a buy six deal at Majestic, 11% abv) I love the arty label which helps it stand out from the prosecco crowd. The wine has typical aromas of pears and apples and signature prosecco favours. You’ll find cheaper prosecco, but if you want a message of love, it’s all there in the name.

Veuve Monsigny Pink Champagne Brut (£14.99, Aldi, and www.aldi.co.uk, 12% abv) This pink sparkler is new in store this week, just in time to turn your thoughts to love. Enjoy a flirtatious evening with this good value champagne which has a shimmer of red berry fruits, a flutter of fizzy bubbles and delicate fresh and dried fruit flavours.

Vin Mousseux Beaumonde Rosé Brut 2015 (£11.99, www.laithwaites.co.uk, 12% abv) Beaumonde Rosé is the pink of a blushing English bride – well, a bride that hasn’t been on the sunbed for hours and hours before the wedding. It is made from grenache grapes grown on limestone just down the coast from the hills of Provence, the home of elegant pink wines. There’s flavours of fresh red fruits and strawberries, together with a wisp of herbs on the nose.

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Lanson Rose Champagne (£28.99, from £34.99 until February 14 at Bargain Booze, 12.5% abv) This champagne is such a pretty rose petal pink. It has aromas of my favourite strawberry tarts, you know the ones; crisp shortcrust pastry, fresh strawberries and a peak of cream. Fresh red fruit flavours tingle with a juicy flash of acidity. What’s not to love.

Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Rosé (RRP £58.99, down to £43.99 at Waitrose until February 21, and £44.99 at Majestic in a buy six deal) This extra-special champagne is presented in a 16th-century style bottle and speaks class. It has elegant fresh aromas of red fruits, raspberries and strawberries, and to taste, delicious red fruits dance on the tastebuds, as a peek of cherry emerges from the shadows. Light some candles and enjoy.

Finally for small budgets …. Lambrini has released special bottles of Very Cherry and So Strawberry (both RRP £3.29, 5% abv) and Always Original (RRP £1.99, 7.5% abv). They’re bang on trend for this Valentine season, as they’re festooned in hearts and flowers. The limited editions are in Asda, Tesco, Morrisons, Co-op and Sainsbury’s while stocks last.

*First published in February 2017 in over 20 regional UK newspapers including:

Liverpool Echo – South Wales Echo – Daily Post Wales – Huddersfield Examiner – The Chronicle, Newcastle – Teesside Evening Gazette – Birmingham  Mail – Coventry Telegraph – Paisley Daily Express

Your best-buy supermarket champagne… here’s the festive fizz factor scores

Champagne bubbles in a glass

supermarket prosecco supermarket champagneYup – that’s me on this page. Sadly not the pretty thing in the middle, but the old blob on the left wearing a grey cardie. You’ll see we ran a supermarket festive fizz taste test … here’s the supermarket champagne ratings. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

SUPERMARKET CHAMPAGNE: BEST BUY

Wm Morrison Champagne Brut NV supermarket champagneWm Morrison Champagne Brut NV (Morrisons, £15, down from £19 until January 1st)  This is a silver winner at the International Wine Challenge and is a champagne which is happy in its soul. It has honeysuckle, the juicy tease of ripe red apples, vanilla, cream cake and a summer breeze on the nose. It is soft and subtle with gentle flavours and acidity and the juiciness stays with you long after the last sip. Which is what we want, right?
Fizz Factor: 5/5

SUPERMARKET CHAMPAGNE: BARGAIN BUY

Lidl Champagne Comte De Senneval

Champagne Comte De Senneval (Lidl, £9.99) I really, really liked this. There’s aromas of fresh apples with a touch of cinnamon and a yummy ooze of baked apples too, with some sweet temptation of a baking cake. It’s not in your face though, it is subtle like a spring freshness. Apple flavours are very refreshing, and the bubbles, well, they’re happy little bubbles.
Fizz Factor: 5/5

 Supermarket Champagne: The best of the rest

Champagne Veuve Monsigny Vintage Blanc de Blancs Champagne (Aldi, £19.99) You might find this a bit overpowering unless you have a head start in knowing Champagne nuances.  I love this wine. Its an award-winning seasonal  offering which has aromas of apple compote, super-fruity apple tarte tatin, butterscotch and nuts. Side by side with other champers it is almost toffee-like. It has a good acidity and lovely complex rich apple flavours.
Fizz Factor: 4/5

Duval-Leroy Fleur de Champagne Premier Cru (Waitrose, £17.99, down from £26.99 until January 3)  Ah, this is subtle and feminine, delicate and wistful. There’s fresh apples and apple crumble on the nose, with a “hey notice me” wave from lemons. It is more fruity than complex, has a soft mouth-feel and is confident in itself. The name is inspired by the scent of the vine flower.
Fizz Factor: 4/5 

Les Pionniers Champagne Brut NV (the Co-operative, reduced by £1 to £15.99  until January 3) Ah. One of my evergreen favourites. It is a super-reliable Champers, named after the Rochdale Pioneers who founded the Co-operative movement, and it has a reputation of beating big names in blind tastings. It has a nose of biscuit, brioche and apples, and tastes of toffee-dipped green apples. Very drinkable.
Fizz Factor: 4/5

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Tesco Finest Premier Cru Champagne (£16, down from £19, until January 9) The grapes for this champagne come only from premier and grand cru vineyards, which makes for a special experience from beginning to end. The champagne has a rich nose with lots of ripe apples, vanilla and brioche. It has a good balance of fruit and acidity and some lovely fizzy giddiness plays around your tastebuds. It’s not an overbearing style but has finesse and elegance.
Fizz Factor: 4/5

Sainsbury’s Champagne Blanc de Noirs (£20) There’s three main champagne grapes, one white, two black. If champagne is made   from the white grape only it is blanc de blancs; if just the black grapes are used, the wine is blanc de noirs. That’s what we have here. There’s sumptuous, tempting aromas of brioche, vanilla, butterscotch and citrus but the taste doesn’t live up to the aromas. Saying that, it has a good balance of acidity and a nice fruity flavour.
Fizz Factor: 3/5

Louis Vertay Brut NV, (Marks & Spencer, £16.50, from £33 until January 1) A High Five to M&S for just scooping 60 medals, including six golds, at the International Wine Challenge last month. This champers has subtle aromas of fresh and dried fruit, with a sweep of tropical fruit which tickle the senses. Lasting bubbles liven the glass and a taste reveals touches of fruity complexity.
Fizz Factor: 3/5

Marquis de Belrive Champagne Brut Reserve (SPAR, £16) I was surprised when I had my first nose dip of this champagne. I said “oooo” because I wasn’t expecting it to have such pretty aromas. It’s not a flag-waving champers, but it’s definitely one you’d be happy to pick up on your way to a party or a family visit. Grapefruit and toasty apples play on the nose and to taste a creamy texture is fizzled with citrus and brioche.
Fizz Factor: 3/5

Champagne Pierre Darcy (Asda, £10, reduced from £18 until  December 27)  Well it’s a tenner so you can’t complain at that, but it needs perking up with fresh raspberries to make it a festive treat. The aromas have buttery edges but there isn’t much fruit; to taste there’s no depth or complexity. In fact it is bland and leaves a bitter aftertaste.
Fizz Factor: 1/5

*First published in December 2016 in several regional UK newspapers including:

Liverpool Echo – South Wales Echo – Daily Post Wales – Huddersfield Examiner – The Chronicle, Newcastle – Teesside Evening Gazette – Birmingham  Mail – Coventry Telegraph – Paisley Daily Express