Rosé fizz is a tricky thing to get right. And I don’t mean knowing which to buy. Making it is hard. Once upon a time rosé champagne was nothing but an embarrassing mistake, deemed to be a faulty wine. If you weren’t extremely careful, colour from the black grapes, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, might inadvertently bleed into the juice colouring it in a way that was not desired, turning the wine pink, or sometimes even purple, brown or blue. Now of course, and thanks to Ruinart and Veuve Clicquot, the earliest proponents of rosé, most champagne houses have perfected the technique.
It is the perfect choice, of course, for Valentine’s Day, each flute somehow or other packed full of pulsating passion, ardour and romance.
You can splash out serious money on such mind-blowing, tongue-trembling rosés such as those from Dom Pérignon, Veuve Clicquot’s La Grande Dame or Dom Ruinart – you won’t be disappointed – but for something slightly more affordable, but still, sadly, £64.99 from Leamington Wine Company, Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé is one of the most elegant, stylish of champagne rosés perfectly restrained and poised with subtle beautiful strawberry notes. It will be perfect as an aperitif, or serve with sushi, salmon or a light, not too sweet, red berry desert.
Bollinger Rosé can handle something meatier. Champagne is a great food wine, and rosé is no exception, just choose carefully. Bolly has a bit more structure and oomph about it while retaining a classy minerality and fresh acidity making it able to cope with lamb and duck. It also carries a £60 price tag but bought with Majestic’s ‘buy any 6 wines’ policy it comes down to a more palatable £44.98.
For something more unusual in style from a highly-respected grower, with an intensity, complexity and tension Larmandier-Bernier Rosé de Saignée Premier Cru Extra Brut (The Drinks Emporium, £55) will make your evening simmer with excitement. It’s a wine-lover’s champagne; dry, with an acidity-laden swell and just the merest hint of grape-skin chewiness. Enjoy with tuna, cured meats and lightly spiced dishes.
Of course you’re not looking for a bargain on Valentine’s Day – your loved one is worth every penny, surely – but you shouldn’t be put off by Lanson’s affordability (around £35) nor its very pink label. It actually delivers well on flavour and fizz; Pink Lady apples and raspberries burst forth and last well in the mouth. For a heavenly match try making Tom Kerridge’s simply gorgeous Raspberry Rose Water Jellies. Just bear in mind that they are made with sparkling wine. You know what I’m saying. It’s Valentine’s Night, go steady. I made these myself so I know what I’m talking about!
Feeling patriotic as well as loved up? You’d be hard-pressed to find a more stunning English rosé than Wiston Estate 2011 available from Loki at £35, as chic on the outside as on the inside. Its delicate sour cherry and strawberry flavours balanced with crisp acidity and a tingling fizz will have you topping up your glass with dangerous regularity. What more could you want?
Great rosé may be difficult to make but it’s easy to enjoy, especially in the company of your beloved. Don’t make the mistake I’m sometimes guilty of by paying more attention to the glass rather than the man in front of me