How to choose the best pink fizz this Valentine's Day

Christine Austin selects the best pink sparklers on the shelves for a loved up Valentine’s Day with a greener tinge.

The grand House of Bollinger
Picture ERIC VANDEN
The grand House of Bollinger Picture ERIC VANDEN

It is almost two years since the world changed and we all started working from home, avoiding public transport and ordering everything online. So now is the time to peek over the top of this magazine and check that the face that looked at you across the breakfast table two years ago is the same one that is looking at you now. If it is, congratulations.

There cannot have been a more challenging and difficult time to keep a relationship going. And with Valentine’s Day on Monday, you might as well designate this whole weekend as time to celebrate your partnership.

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You could get yourself a restaurant reservation. After all, local restaurants need you just as much as you need your partner. They have stuck by you during the pandemic, transforming their businesses from dine-in to dine-at-home. And when they were allowed to open, they spaced out the tables to keep everyone safe. But you might have left it all a bit late, in which case you need to think of other options.

Rose Fizz is perfect for Valentine's Day

Nothing declares love more than a huge bunch of roses, but we have all become very eco-conscious. A bunch of red roses will set you back a serious amount of money and will then require a hunt for a vase and somewhere to put them. And there is the environment to think of. The planes carrying these wallet-emptying blooms from sub-Saharan Africa add vast amounts of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, and so does the man in a van who has to drive around town all day delivering them.

That’s why you should choose the environmentally friendly option of a bottle of fizz. This comes in a recyclable bottle, and it is sealed with a cork which can go on the compost heap and, of course, the contents are delicious.

So, what should you buy?

Any kind of champagne is good. It shows you care and have taste, but pink champagne shows you care even more. There is something special about rosé champagne that automatically makes everyone smile. Made with just a splash of Pinot Noir grapes added to the blend, it should taste of wild strawberries and have a little more weight on the palate than your usual champagne. This is a wine you can sip on its own or sup with a meal.

Harvest at Bollinger

English fizz is even more environmentally friendly as well as supporting a rapidly expanding home industry. Vineyards are being planted across the country and the acreage is doubling about every five years. This doesn’t just provide a nice drink, it provides jobs, tourism and exports. Even the Queen has a vineyard in Windsor.

But champagne and English fizz are at the top end of the budget and if you are planning on good food, a bunch of daffs and a box of chocolates then there are delicious rosé sparklers to fit every wallet. Here is my selection of the best of the pinks.

Bollinger Rosé Champagne, Waitrose, down from £52 to £39 until February 22: Bollinger always manages to conjure up just a little more weight and roundness of flavour in its wines, mainly because the quality of the grapes is so good. Eighty-five per cent of the wine in the bottle is from Grand Cru or Premier Cru vineyards, with Pinot Noir making up the majority of the blend, and Chardonnay adding a line of freshness. Enjoy on its own or with nibbles of salmon and king prawns. This is my Best Buy Rosé Champagne, but if Waitrose has sold out, head to Roberts & Speight in Beverley who will match their deal. Walk into their shop today or Monday, say “The Yorkshire Post” and they will sell it to you for £39 (normal price, £49.99). There are no further discounts.

Ruinart “Second Skin” Brut Rosé Champagne, Majestic £79.99, down to £69.99 in a mix six: Expensive champagne often comes in a special box, but they are a huge waste of packaging. Ruinart has come up with a paper oyster shell which is wrapped around the bottle and does just the same job as a box. It protects the wine from light with the added benefit that it survives dunking in an ice bucket and is totally recyclable. As always, Ruinart Rosé has a high proportion of Chardonnay in the blend which gives the wine lovely vivacity as well as crunchy strawberry fruit.

Jansz Premium Rosé, Tasmania, Ocado, £19.50: Cool breezes, plenty of rain and warm sunshine make Tasmania perfect for growing grapes and this is a bottle-fermented, mainly Pinot Noir rosé, with rose petal aromas, the taste of crushed strawberries and a light, toasty brioche note.

Finest English Sparkling Wine Rosé Brut, Kent, Tesco, £21: Sourced from the Hush Heath Estate in Kent, this bottle-fermented rosé brut is pale and delicate with gentle fruit and a crisp, fresh style.

Graham Beck Brut Rosé NV, South Africa, Majestic, £16.99, down to £14.99 on a mix-six deal: From one of South Africa’s best sparkling producers, this is terrific value for its crisp, lively strawberry and cherry fruit and long, fresh finish.

Kylie Prosecco Rosé, Italy, Morrisons, down from £12 to £9 until Tuesday: The hundreds of hearts embossed into the glass will certainly show your love and the wine’s almost-dry, frothy, fruity flavours will go with starters, mains and dessert.

Extra Special Crémant de Loire Rosé Brut, Asda, £12: Terrific value for money, this is a blend of Cabernet Franc, Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon so it has raspberry and strawberry fruit in abundance, with leafy tones and a citrus fresh background.

Bird in Hand Sparkling 2021, Australia, Waitrose, £15.99, down to £11.99 until February 22: Pale, pale pink, but with remarkable strawberry fruit and a smooth finish. The fizz comes from big tank “charmat” method rather than in-bottle fermentation, but quality is good.

Crémant de Bordeaux, Etoile de Timberlay, Brut Rosé, Marks & Spencer, £9: Pale ballet-shoes pink in colour with strawberries and cream flavours. Crisp on the finish.

La Gioiosa Prosecco Rosado, Italy, Morrisons, down from £10 to £7 until Tuesday: Everyone loves Prosecco for its frothy fruity flavours, and it is even better when it is pink. Try this juicy, raspberry-filled version that won’t break the budget.