Ben Franks: My Top 5 Wines for Valentine’s Day
We’re fast approaching the big day for couples and the commercial whirlwind around it has been in full force for some weeks now. But what makes Valentine’s Day memorable is those beautiful moments when it’s just you and the one you love.
Whether you’re cuddling up in front of the fire with a bottle of your favourite tipple or you want to toast the occasion before popping out to enjoy the nightlife, here’s my top five wines to make your day extra special:
The One with Fish
There are some stunning white and rosé wines that are sublime with fish, whether you’re a fan of Sauvignon Blanc or flinty Chablis, a Provence salmon-pink rosé or fresh green apple Chenin Blanc – the list feels endless.
Yet for me few can compare with Spain’s star white wine grape: Albariño. As dry, fresh and zippy as the best Riesling yet with more ripe fruit and a smooth minerality, it’s so versatile with fish dishes. My current favourite Albariño is Palacio de Fefiñanes Albariño 2014 (£15.99, Waitrose Cellar). It’s an exceptionally good wine for the price.
The One with Mexican
It’s becoming a popular choice to enjoy Mexican during the big holidays from the full spread at Christmas to cheesy chilli burritos on Valentine’s. However picking the wine is a challenge for a lot of wine lovers because Mexican food tends to marry both hearty, soulful home cooking and a whole range of spices.
A classic option in the whites is a medium dry Pinot Gris. Light pear fruit and a glint of rose colour make it as alluring as your food. That said, I would really recommend a juicy Chilean Merlot like De Gras Merlot Reserva 2014 (£8.75, Great Western Wine). Plums and blackberries go fantastically with tomato sauces and melted cheese, while its soft tannins and firm structure pair nicely with spice. It’s great value as well!
The Great All-Rounder
What’s a wine that you can enjoy with a whole range of foods and on its own? I have two that come to mind without having to think too hard: Sant Ilia Cabernet Sauvignon (£8.79, Waitrose Cellar), the easiest drinking Bulgarian red wine with jammy blackberry notes. While the white that comes to mind is the crisp, lemon and apple Château Saint-Jean-des-Graves (£8.99, Waitrose Cellar). It’s a wine I go back to again and again – and it’s living proof that Bordeaux can make high quality, tasty white wines as well as reds.
The Bubbly One
You could always pick your favourite Cava, Prosecco or Champagne but I think Valentine’s Day always calls for pink sparkling wine. I love pink bubbles purely because they take everything that’s wonderful about Champagne and add a dab of colour and wild berry flavour, which makes everything that extra bit more memorable and romantic.
A recent absolute favourite and super value pink Champagne is Champagne Jacquart, Brut Mosaïque Rosé NV (£32.50, Great Western Wine). Light cherry notes mix with strawberry, creamy mousse and digestive biscuit for a complex, moreish wine perfect for toasting your love.
The Sweet One
Want something sweet for Valentine’s? Perhaps as an aperitif after your meal or some rich Rutherglen Muscat drizzled over your ice-cream? A sherry with your tapas?
Sweet wine is making a comeback and for good reason. The quality today is exceptional at nearly all levels, whether you’ve got a tenner to spend or substantially more. Great value dessert wines include Monbazillac (a lighter, citrus sweet alternative to Sauternes) and Late Bottled Vintage port (juicy black fruits and lots of sweet alcohol).
My top choice though is Peller Ice Wine Cabernet Franc (£47.00, Great Western Wine). Yes, it’s very expensive – but that’s mainly because it’s so rare. It is unequivocally one of the finest drinking experiences I have ever had. Concentrated sweet summer fruits, raspberry, rhubarb and a tickle of spice will stick in your memory for years to come and guarantee the perfect end to a romantic evening.
Sweet Wine and Cupcake Tasting
Ben Franks is running a sweet wine and cupcake tasting with the cake-making extraordinaire Celia Adams of the Bath Cake Company on Friday 12 February at 7.30pm. If this sounds like something you’ll love, visit www.benfrankswine.com/events and book your tickets today. Standard tickets cost £30pp, or you can buy a couple’s ticket for £50 – saving you £10! We look forward to meeting you…
I’m always on the look-out for new wine lists to try and I’m here to help any restaurant or pub who think their wine list needs a seasonal update. For more information or to get in touch about some more of my favourite wine & dine destinations, call Ben Franks Wine on +44(0)7545353147.
Images © Copyright Ben Franks Wine 2016