PUBLISHED: 09:38 13 February 2018 | UPDATED: 09:38 13 February 2018
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Jeremy Dunn, chief wine tutor at Norfolk Wine School shares his list of fabulous fizz that will help you create the perfect romantic night in.
I don’t know about you, but when it comes to Valentine’s Day it just has to be fizz. It might be the association with luxury or the excitement of the bubbles, but there’s something very indulgent about sharing a bottle of Champagne or sparkling wine with a loved one.
For some, Champagne is still the best way to toast l’amour and there are plenty of budget bottles available, such as Tesco Finest Premier Cru Champagne NV, £19. While not the cheapest, is consistently one of the best quality own-label Champagnes on the market. It’s made with grapes sourced from some of the very best premier and grand cru vineyards (the best sites for growing grapes in Champagne) and delivers big on notes of brioche and baked apple, with a wonderfully creamy and complex palate. Of the big brands my personal favourite is Pol Roger Reserve Brut NV, widely available, £43. This was Winston Churchill’s favourite fizz and has a high proportion of aged reserve wines in the blend giving it greater breadth and a fuller flavour than many other branded Champagnes.
If it has to be pink on Valentine’s Day then the delicate salmon pink hue of Oeil de Perdrix Rosé NV, £27.99, Majestic Wine, makes a very attractive drop. It’s light and delicate in style but has more than enough weight to carry a smoked salmon starter. From Majestic I’d also be tempted with a bottle of the very fine Bouvet Ladubay Saumur Rosé Brut NV, £12.99, from one of the Loire Valley’s leading sparkling wine houses. Made with local Loire grape varieties it has plenty of crunchy redcurrant fruit and a crisp and refreshing, yet very elegant style.
While the prosecco bubble shows no sign of bursting, dig deeper into Italy and you can very easily find fizz bursting with local character. Harper Wells in Norwich, has the excellent Collavini Il Grigio Brut Spumante NV,£15.99, which knocks the socks off most prosecco. The secret lies in blending Chardonnay with the Glera grape (the grape of prosecco) and encouraging the yeasty character that you find in fine Champagne. However, those in the know, know about Franciacorta, Italy’s secret weapon in the world of sparkling wine. It’s a tiny region in central northern Italy that makes sparkling wine using the ‘Champagne method’ which is different to the way prosecco is made. Harper Wells has limited stocks of the very special Ferghettina Franciacorta Rosé Brut 2013, £31 (or £38 in a beautiful presentation box) that puts the bling back into Italian fizz. It’s a delicately coloured ‘onion skin’ rose with notes of fresh berries and toast on the nose and a pretty palate that mingles both sweet and savoury flavours.
Norfolk Wine School runs regular wine tastings and short courses for anybody interested in wine. Our next four week Discovery Course explores the vinous delights of Spain and Italy and starts on Tuesday, March 6.