Panicking over which bottle to pick for your beloved? Peter Ranscombe and his Cupid-shaped corkscrew have the answers.
WHETHER you’re staying in for a bit of “Netflix and chill” or “going out-out” for Valentine’s day, Galentine’s day even Palentine’s day then here’s a quick survival guide for the 24 hours that lie ahead…
I want bubbles – lots of bubbles! What should I pick?
I love your enthusiasm. If you want those bubbles to be a romantic shade of pink then go classic and splash out on the Champagne Taittinger Brut Prestige Rosé (£30, Asda) – one of the stars of last year’s Champagne school – with its fine balance between crisp acidity and fruity strawberries-and-cream flavour. And for white sparkles? It’s a bit of a cliché, but the 2012 Moet & Chandon Grand Vintage (£45, Sainsbury’s) was on fire at the recent Moet Hennessy tasting in London, with its restrained nose leading into a savoury explosion of lemon rind, apricot, red apple and cinnamon on the palate. Its little brother’s not bad either.
Money is no object. I’m out to impress. Where should I splash the cash?
If you can get hold of it at short notice then I was blown away by the amazing richness and complexity of the 2004 Maison Bruno Paillard Nec Plus Ultra (£129.99, Ministry of Drinks; £190, Hedonism Wines). Maybe an expensive courier can help you out with your last-minute order…?
I love my bae but I ain’t got no benjamins – help me out?
Chill – Valentine’s day isn’t about spending money to show someone that you love them. If you still want pink fizz then head for Barcelona and the Vilarnau Rosé Brut Reserva (£9, Tesco), a crowd-pleasing cava that is much lighter and fresher than its off-red hue suggests. It’s really versatile with food too; lots of acidity to take on tacos, and enough fruit to balance a bit of Lebanese spice. In the white corner, opt for the Pianeta Organico Prosecco (£7.99, Aldi), which not only has attractive green apple, pear and melon notes but also has that amazing brightness and fruit concentration that seems to only come from organic wines.
Nothing screams romance like takeaway, right? Which bottle will do the business?
Tricky one without narrowing down the takeaway options. But a multi-purpose staple is a dry riesling, like the Limestone Riesling (£5.99, Aldi) from Germany, which has the acidity you want to sliver through oily sushi, slice through sticky sweet and sour, and even calm a chicken korma. It’s an award winner too, having scooped silver at the International Wine Challenge. For something pinker, check out my recent winter rosé rundown.
We can never agree what to cook, so I’m having steak and he’s having fish. Is there a wine to match both?
There sure is and its name is pinot noir. It’s a thin-skinned red grape that produces really elegant wines, full of red fruit flavours. Its tannins – the substance that you find in tea that makes you suck in your cheeks – aren’t too high; there are enough in the Finest Central Otago Pinot Noir (£13, Tesco) to match a nice sirloin without spoiling a meaty fish like cod, especially if it’s wrapped in Parma ham or prosciutto. It’s even got enough body to take on an oily salmon fillet if need be.
My jokes are corny, my gifts are corny, so I want my wine to be corny too. Any suggestions?
Oh, go on then – the obvious answer is to pick Saint-Amour, a village in Burgundy with one of the most romantic names in the wine trade. But when the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie then look no further than the 2018 Amori Pinot Grigio (£7.90, Davy’s). So much pinot grigio is bland and boring but this crackles with oodles of freshness and an orchard-full of green apple. Davy’s might struggle to get it to you for Valentine’s day itself, but I spotted that wholesaler Laurence Smith & Son in Edinburgh distributes the wine in the Central Belt, so look out for it in restaurants instead.
Help! We’re out for dinner and I don’t know what to order! Save me?
Don’t panic. The sommelier – or wine waiter – is there to help. Ask her or him to let you have a cheeky wee sample of a few of the wines by the glass to help you get a feel for what each of you enjoys. Don’t be frightened to order a different glass for each of you – the romance isn’t going to die if you pick different drinks. In fact, there’s something quite intimate about picking and mixing, and trying each other’s vino. If you want to share a bottle and you’re heading down the chicken or fish route then a white wine like Gruner Veltliner from Austria would be ideal – it’s a superb all-rounder.
Read more of Peter Ranscombe’s blog entries about whisky, wine and other drinks on The Grape & The Grain at https://www.scottishfield.co.uk/grapegrain/