It is Valentine’s Day next Friday, so now is the time to think ahead and plan something for the love in your life.

At this point I can hear a collective groan from anyone who has been in a partnership or marriage for more than five years.  Surely you don’t have to bother anymore?  Yes, you do. Look at it this way.  It is mid-February, the weather is cold, the days are short, and if you have someone to share your life, your dog, your holiday plans and your bills, then this is definitely something to celebrate.

These days it is not enough to buy a slushy card and a bunch of roses. Effort scores more points than flowers.  After all, those roses have been flown halfway around the world and if you care about your carbon footprint then those roses might not fit into your ecological lifestyle.  Daffodils come from closer to home and a big bunch of daffs brightens the home so much more than a spindly bunch of hot house roses.

And while you have time to book a restaurant, maybe you don’t want to be squeezed on to a tiny table for an allotted time slot.  Why not dine at home instead?

All you have to do is to declare that you have dinner preparations under control get yourself to a supermarket.  There are so many meals for two in fancy boxes that you should have no trouble making a decent dinner that both of you can enjoy, and since you are dining at home you can afford some serious wine to go with it.

Valentine’s Day is not the time to cut corners and here I would like to suggest a budget.  Starting with a baseline of £20 you need to add £1 for every year you have been together, with a bonus £10 every five years. So a five year relationship should budget for a £35 spend while a decade together calls for a £50 spend – at least.

If you are more used to spending between £5 and £10 on your weekend wine then you might think this is sheer extravagance, but just look at the economics.  Living in a partnership usually means that chores are divided and whichever ones fall to you, the alternative of doing everything yourself will cost a lot more effort and expense.  Check out the cost of an ironing service, a gardener or a cleaner and almost any wine budget looks totally affordable.

Here are some suggestions for your evening of togetherness, with bubbles, a white and a red wine to go with whatever you have planned for dinner.

1 to 5 year romances – Budget £20 to £35

Bubbles – Conte Priuli Oro Prosecco, Marks and Spencer down from £15 to £10 until 2 March

This frothy, floral and ripe pear-scented wine comes all dressed up in its own golden bottle, ready to party. It sets the mood for a great night in.

White wine – Tesco Finest Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2019, New Zealand down from £8 to £6 until 14 February

Crisp, bright and refreshing, this will accompany any kind of fish dish.

Red wine – CVNE Crianza Rioja 2015, Spain, Morrisons, down from £8.50 to £7 until 18 February

Whatever you are cooking, from a roast chicken to a piece of steak, this Rioja will sit alongside it providing ripe, juicy, raspberry-scented fruit without the thud of oak that comes from older Riojas.

5 to 10 year romances – Budget £35 to £50

Bubbles – Les Pionniers Rosé Champagne, Co-op, down from £22 to £20 until 18 February.

Everyone loves pink champagne and this one is a bargain.  Made by one of the great Champagne Houses it has complex red berry fruits with a creamy, rounded style.

White wine – Vasse Felix Filius Chardonnay 2018, Western Australia, Waitrose down from £12.99 to £9.99 until 18 February

Almost Chablis-like in style, this has clean, pure, uncluttered stone fruit with crisp, minerally freshness.  Light enough to go with a prawn salad, but with enough substance to accompany roast chicken.

Red wine – Cono Sur Reserva Especial Pinot Noir 2018, Morrisons down from £10 to £7.50 until 18 February

A definite step up from the regular Cono Sur Pinot, providing summer berry fruit with a savoury complexity.  Good with anything where there are mushrooms on the plate.

10 to 15 year romances – Budget £50 to £6

Bubbles – Taittinger Prestige Rose Champagne, Tesco down from £40 to £35 until February 14

Elegant and complex with tiny creamy bubbles and a palate that hints of wild cherries, raspberry and blackcurrant.

White wine – Chapel Down Bacchus 2018, Kent, England, Sainsbury down from £12 to £11 until 11 February

Even if you miss the offer, this is well worth its full price for its aromas of an English garden in springtime, with fresh, bright, crisp citrus flavours, this goes perfectly with an Asian stir-fry.

Red wine – St Emilion Heritage de Luze 2018, Bordeaux, France, Marks and Spencer down from £12 to £10

From one of the top négotiants in Bordeaux this is a 50:50 blend of Cabernet Franc and Merlot and has lifted aromatic cassis fruit backed by soft Merlot tannins.  A complex, lovely wine to go with a rack of lamb, perhaps.

15 to 20 years and onwards – Budget £65 and upwards

Bubbles – Bollinger Rosé Brut, Champagne, Waitrose down from £49.99 to £37.49 until 18 February

This gorgeous, subtle, elegant champagne has been aged in the cellars of Bollinger for at least six years, developing complexity to balance its creamy wild strawberry fruit.

White wine – Yves Cuilleron Roussanne ‘Les Vignes d’à Côté’, 2017, Harrogate Fine Wine

From a top winemaker who makes serious, complex wines.  This is 100% Roussanne with citrus and red apple fruits, honeysuckle and a minerally finish.  Perfect with rich fish dishes such as turbot.

Red wine – Circumstance Merlot 2015, Waterkloof Estate, South Africa, Field and Fawcett £14.95

Made from grapes that grow on the slopes of the Schaapenberg Mountain, looking straight out over the sea.  Organic and biodynamic methods are used on this property, with some vineyards being ploughed by horse.  All this work shows in the wine.  Purity of fruit, substance and finesse.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About The Author

Christine Austin

Christine is a wine writer, broadcaster and a wine judge for several international wine competitions. She has a technical background and spent five years as a buyer for a major supermarket before moving to wine writing.She writes for The Yorkshire Post Magazine and organises the York Festival of Food and Drink. She has won both the Lanson and the Roederer prizes for wine writing.

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