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10th February 2014

The Valentine’s Day guide to picking a decent bottle of fizz

Victor Croci has done the leg work for you this Valentine’s Day by assembling a fine range of fizz to share with someone special–even if that is just yourself.

It’s that time of year again where chubby young Cupid has been firing arrows, with the usual mitigated success that a blind toddler has with a bow. As a consequence of this amorous atmosphere, all the shops have in Manchester have been covered up in red hearts, crimson roses and gourmet chocolates. This week, as a result, I have been a busy little cherubin myself, scouring the Wine aisles of some of our favorite supermarkets for a decent bottle of champers – something to guarantee success on a date for those who are organizing a meal at home. For those who have nothing planned for the splendid day of love this year, sitting on the couch scoffing chocolates, reading this article will be good preparation for when you actually do…

Here are three carefully selected bottles, for three carefully planned dates…

‘Oudinot champagne Brut’: a bottle to share with a woman of notable virtue is an unusually classy bottle for this wine column. It is pure Chardonnay and about as consistent as busses on Oxford Road (very) and comes coupled with a generous brioche style, long, positive fruit and heartening signs of bottle age – according to the M&S marketing department. Priced at £25, you may have to extend your overdraft and negotiate a second student loan instalment very quickly, yet it tastes wonderful. In terms of a deal clincher, this is the ultimate winner, the move which check-mates’ your date and guarantees you a second evening. The prickly bubbly nature makes conversation smooth but the bottle presents a fine getaway should that conversation then hit the rocks. Truly wonderful stuff, the only down side is that hefty price tag. As our gruff politics professor once said, “You have to choose quality over quantity, even though by the looks of the track suits around, you probably cannot afford it”. He’s a permanent bachelor, so don’t worry. I hope if you do choose this bottle of champagne, the returns on your investment will make any banker green with envy.

‘Cave de Lugny Crémant de Bourgogne’: a mid-ranged bottle, nothing too flash and nothing to boisterous yet nonetheless quite a good addition to any candlelit meal for two. It is the ‘blanc de blancs’; the ‘whites of whites’, all Chardonnay and a lovely fine taste of crisp apples, apparently accompanied with bready aromas and a lively zesty character. To be honest the label doesn’t do it justice, this bottle is a superb choice, the cherry on top of a fine evening in even finer company. Interestingly, at 11.5% APR you won’t be left red-nosed or on all fours but just enough to kick back and enjoy whatever interesting culinary delights you’ve whipped up for the grand occasion. I don’t usually shop at Waitrose, but when I do I try to pick out the best bottle for the remainder of my bank balance. In this case it was £12.99 and worth every penny!

‘Cava Brut’-Tesco: a bottle not to share unless you openly dislike whoever chubby young Cupid has paired you off with. Or at least that it what I first thought… Priced at a mere £4.99, this curiously underpriced bottle from cava mass-producer Corneliu is supposed to be fruity and very bubbly. I won’t lie; you certainly get your money’s worth with this fine specimen. Secondly, considering you could get 5 of these bottles for one ‘Oudinot Champagne Brut’, it is certainly worth mulling it over. If you so happen to be the type of person who enjoys a different bottle with every course then this is a brilliant choice. Your date may be a little overwhelmed by the bubbles and go down with hiccups, but you’ve still got desert on the menu – so it is a hard call.

I hope this speedy comparison does actually come handy for all those fortunate to end up spending the most rosy of days in the company of someone special. For those of you, like myself, who are sentenced to yet another year on the sofa, miserable and grumpy, wondering what in the world Aphorodite’s useless illegitimate offspring is doing with his bow – I shall see you at Tesco’s wine aisle, shopping for Cava… and much too much chocolate.

Tesco Cava under £5

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