Valentine’s Day gets a bad rep. With plenty of pricey and awkward expressions of love out there, you might be dedicated to skipping it altogether. Yet strip out the schmaltz and take it back to the simple joy of uncorking a bottle of something special and you’ll likely be onto something…special. Whether with a loved one, friends or by yourself, here are eight wines handpicked by our buyer and in-house wine expert Lucy Lettice designed to surprise and delight this Valentine’s Day.
Made by Josh Donaghay-Spire and his multi-award winning international winemaking team at Chapel Down in Kent, this rose petal pink bubbly number is the perfect choice for Valentine’s Day. Josh’s grapes are harvested by hand and undergo cool fermentation, resulting in an elegant and sophisticated sparkling wine that’ll enchant even staunch rosé refusers.
Tastes like: Light lemon sherbet on the nose with hints of blackcurrant, rosehip and wild strawberry on the palate.
Food pairing: Kick off the evening with a glass paired with a cold and fresh-tasting starter such as smoked trout and buckwheat blinis.
Gran Cerdo Blanco, The Wine Love, £8.95
Who could say no to a bottle made by a producer called ‘The Wine Love?’ on Valentine’s Day? A natural and organic wine made using many biodynamic practices that’s pale in colour, it’s 95% Viura grape – the white grape variety of Rioja – and a 5% mix of 9 other varieties such as Muscat, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc. Winemaker Gonazalo Gonazalo is a bit of a rebel – gran cerdo translates as ‘fat pig’ – naming the wine after the bankers who refused to loan him money for his vineyard.
Tastes like: Very fresh with good acidity, with some aromatic back bone. The slightly floral nose comes from the myriad of experimental white varieties in the blend.
Food pairing: An ideal conversation starter to accompany an aperitif or a silky pasta dish.
Vieilles Vignes Chardonnay, Domaine de la Verpaille, £14.50
An organic, consistent and wonderfully moreish wine, enjoy this fridge cold. The grapes in this bottle are sourced entirely from a single plot of 100 year old vines grown on a limestone/clay soil. If that doesn’t woo, we don’t know what will. It’s cracking tipple for a bottle sub-£15 too.
Tastes like: A fine, classic Macon Villages bouquet with aromatic tones of pear, white flowers and a touch of exotic fruits. Gentle, creamy and yet perfectly balanced with a telling cut of fresh acidity and a trace of minerality.
Food pairing: Great with oily fish such as tuna and salmon as well as cured meats.
English White Pinot Noir, Litmus Wines, £24.95
A great one to impress on Valentine’s night or to take to a dinner party because of its amazing story. Pinot Noir and Sauvignon are the main grape varieties used in Burgundy to make red and white wine. However, this a white pinot that uses the red grape and the style is like a white pinot from Burgundy. It’s pale straw in colour, oily, oaky and mineral-y, but cleverly is also clean and crisp – and it’s made in Surrey.
Tastes like: Peach, honeysuckle and smoky characters. This complex wine displays a fullness and roundness that is rare in wines from England. The palate is structured, full bodied; rich and silky with a steely backbone of acidity and layered nuances that’s almost like a red wine.
Food pairing: Try with creamy soups, a crab starter or avocado salad. If you’re a mushroom lover, go for this.
Ciu’ Ciu’ Sangiovese, Ciu’ Ciu’, £9.95
You simply can’t go wrong with this easy drinking wine. It’s a classic Italian red made in the Marche region of Italy. A Montepulciano / Sangiovese blend, it’s similar to a chianti, but a little more full bodied. There’s an unfussy juiciness in this vegan wine that cries out for a second and third glass and it’ll happily be chilled. If you choose one bottle of red this Valentine’s Day, try this.
Tastes like: Light to medium bodied with plenty of fresh ripe fruit character. Rose-perfumed with strawberry, morello cherry and liquorice root.
Food pairing: Why not try it with a dishes with rich tomato sauce or even a classic Italian pizza.
Dolcetto d’Alba, E. Pira & Figli, £14.95
This organic and vegetarian wine is perfect to cosy up to next to a fire (or loved one). Made by the exceptional Barolo winemaker Luigi Pira, its Zinfandel-like fruitiness and Merlot-like soft tannins make it charmingly seductive. Think an intense ruby red that is balanced and elegant. Much like the idea of a good Valentine’s gift.
Tastes like: Aromas of ripe blackberries and plums are mirrored in the flavour with soft tannins.
Food pairing: Antipasti, red meats, middle eastern-style lamb, soft semi-sweet cheeses.
Crozes-Hermitage ‘Papillon’, Domaine Gilles Robin, £17.95
An absolutely delicious red that’s a winner for a Valentine’s Day dinner. Succulent and rounded but not too heavy, it’s full of an exciting, vibrant young Syrah aroma. As an AOC wine there are strict rules about which grape varieties are used as well as the ageing of the wine. This one’s 100% syrah from 10 year old vines in the largest appellation in the Rhone region and is a bit of treat. You could lay this one down to crack into in the future, but not for too long (this one’s good for drinking until 2022).
Tastes like: Expect an immediate Syrah perfume of plums and violets. Very fine tannins and well-textured with lasting flavour on the finish.
Food pairing: A food friendly wine, enjoy with cheeses and most meats, especially duck.
Le Pas du Moine Rosé, Le Pas du Moine, £13.45
A dry rose that’s luxurious, excellent with food and a beautiful salmon-pink colour that’s guaranteed to delight and romance rosé lovers. The family’s fifth generation winemaker Baron Georges Gassier ensures its red grapes are very delicately harvested and pressed in a cool environment followed by cool fermentation, so the grapes don’t get too ripe and too much colour doesn’t come out of the skins.
Tastes like: Full of red berries such as raspberries and loganberries with a nose of fennel and herb. Dry, super-smooth and balanced body. Very moreish.
Food Pairing: Amazing as an aperitif, it also matches perfectly with Mediterranean dishes and asian meals, like sushis, spring rolls or Asian stir fried beef.