Pink fizz is such a Valentine’s Day cliche, but sometimes cliches are cliches for good reason. And, these days, pink wine deserves to be taken seriously, whether it’s sparkling or still. That’s certainly reflected in the price of most rosé champagne, which is almost invariably more expensive than its colourless counterparts – in the case of Krug, a whopping 250 quid, and that’s on special offer at Ocado. When you ask why, there’s usually a lot of mumbo-jumbo spoken about the skill involved in blending, and how it’s more expensive to make, yadda yadda yadda, but it’s hard to see quite what justifies the size of such a premium, other than that they can simply get away with it.
Unlike rosé, which is generally made from lightly pressed red grapes, pink fizz is made by adding a small amount of red wine, generally pinot noir, to a white wine base. As well as champagne, there are some particularly pretty examples in the UK, including Digby’s Leander Pink and the Woodchester Valley Brut Rosé I recommended a couple of weeks ago, though neither of those is inexpensive, either.
The good news, however, is that there is some great-value pink bubbly around: rosé prosecco, which was relatively recently approved as a denomination, cava rosado and crémant are all affordable and, in the case of prosecco, which doesn’t have much flavour of its own, usually preferable to the standard version. Cava, which is also less dry and fruitier than champagne, deserves a revisit, too.
You can also cut the cost by popping the cork on a half-bottle rather than a full-sized one. Exton Park (see today’s pick) is one of the few English sparkling wine producers to do one – let’s have more, please – but if you want your loved one to know you’re spoiling them, there’s always Bollinger, whose half-bottles of rosé are currently on sale at Waitrose at £28, with the full bottles on offer at £39, should you feel like splashing out. You’ll easily pay more elsewhere.
The other advantage of pink fizz is that it goes with such a wide range of Valentine’s Day food. Smoked salmon, sushi (with which it’s particularly good), lobster, heart-shaped cheeses such as coeur de Neufchâtel, white chocolate, macarons … Even a packet of prawn crackers, which is maybe all you’ll get round to eating.
So, even if you’re not celebrating V Day, take advantage of the special offers and stock up for spring drinking. Happily, that’s not that far away now.
Five pink drinks to pour for your Valentine
La Gioiosa Prosecco Rosé 2020 £8.99 (on offer) Waitrose, £10 Tesco (or £8 for Clubcard members), £9.99 (on mix-six) Majestic, 11%. One of the best rosé proseccos I’ve tasted, certainly at this price. A cocktail of summer fruits.
Roche Lacour Crémant de Limoux Rosé Brut 2019 £15.49 (or £13.89 by the mixed case) Laithwaites, 12.5%. Pretty bottle, pretty fruit in this attractive pink fizz from the south of France.
Exton Park RB 23 Rosé £25 a half-bottle extonparkvineyard.com, £40 a full-size bottle Highbury Vintners, 11.5%. Stocked at Simon Rogan’s and other top Michelin restaurants, this lovely rosé has a touch of white peach. You can pick it up from the vineyard, if you live near Hampshire.
Laurent Perrier Rosé Champagne £59.99 (on mix-six) Majestic, 12%. Bit spendy, but probably cheaper than going out to dinner. And it’s widely available.