Fentimans, the posh soft drinks company, have launched a Valentine’s Day initiative which encourages you to look after number one rather than lavishing gifts on your partner. The campaign is called “Love Yourself”. I am afraid the schoolboy in me immediately thought of Woody Allen’s line: “Hey, don’t knock masturbation; it’s sex with someone I love.”
We can laugh, but apparently it’s part of a global trend. There’s even word for it, sologamy. In 2017, an Italian woman, Laura Mesi, married herself. What a strange world we live in! When I was single, I would ignore Valentine’s Day, but now I am married, I rather enjoy it. I know, you’re not meant to say that. Some people get very upset about the whole thing.
You don’t need to fill a room with inflatable pink elephants. Judging Valentine’s day by its crassest incarnation is like judging Christmas by the neighbours with a neon reindeer on their roof. If you don’t want to take part, you can ignore it. As a not particularly demonstrative Englishman, I like to have a designated day for romance.
Whatever you do, though, do not go to a restaurant; you’ll be crammed in with an overpriced menu and all those couples with nothing to say to each other. A simple meal cooked at home and a nice bottle of wine works best for me. What to drink then? Well judging from my inbox, pink fizz. I’ve put a couple in below but it doesn’t have to be pink or fizzy. It must, however, have some friviolity about it: you don’t want to spoil the moment by taking notes or making slurping noises (unless your partner wants to, I’m not judging). But it’s not a time to be cheap. Finally, you don’t want too much alcohol, the danger for parents of young children is that you’ll drink too much, fall asleep and wake in the morning with a splitting headache having bypassed the romance altogether.
Here are ten ways (including two excellent Pinot Noirs that are on offer, so hurry) to make your Valentine’s Day go with a swing, whether you’re with your partner or just up for a spot of self love.
Bruno Paillard Première Cuvée Rosé (Wine Direct £47.85 )
Worth splashing out on, this is made by little-known but extremely high quality champagne house. It’s fashionably very pale pink, and full of ripe cherries fruit, with the sort of luxurious texture that only comes from long ageing.
Nicolas Feuillatte 08 (Majestic £22.99 when you buy 6 mixed bottles)
In my view the best value champagne on the high street. If you like a rich style of fizz, you will love this. The nose is all about bruised apples with yeasty and coffee notes, on the palate it’s rich and meaty with a finish like a tart tatin.
Crémant de Loire Rosé Domaine Sauvion ( Addison Wines £13.95)
Bargain pink fizz from the Loire. It’s made mainly from Cabernet Franc. There are ripe strawberries on the nose, in the mouth it’s bone dry with a toasty, cakey, buttery sort of quality and crunchy raspberry fruit.
Saint-Amour, Le Cru de Amoureux, Château de Belleverne 2017 (All About Wine £9.99) The clue is in the name, this is one wine that’s custom made for loving. Saint Amour is a Cru within Beaujolais, a region which is increasingly turning out wines to rival Burgundy. To me, it tastes of summer pudding but with a dry rocky edge.
Bodegas Ramón Bilbao Rioja Viñedos de Altura 2015 (Great Western Wine £14.50)
This is very different from the oaky Riojas of old. It has something of the Northern Rhone about with fresh raspberry fruit and herbal notes. It has the most delightful perfume and then there’s a little vanilla from oak-ageing.
François Raquillet Bourgogne 2014 (Lea & Sandeman currently on offer for £12.75)
Red Burgundy should be the most seductive of all wines but it’s often overpriced and disappointing. So I was delighted to try this delicious little number. It’s perfect Valentine’s Day wine as it’s completely gorgeous but also unserious.
Marimar La Masia 2015 (Roberts & Speight currently on offer for £20)
OK, this one is quite boozy at 14.5%, but it’s so delightful I had to put it in. It’s just how I like my Californian Pinot Noirs, voluptuous and spicy, and not trying to be all skinny and French. This is totally irresistible.
Howard Park Tingleup Riesling Tesco Finest 2017 (Tesco £8.50)
Riesling can be so invigorating, perfect for when you’ve had a hard day at work. This one is from Australia and it positively explodes with mouth-watering acidity and lively citrus fruit like pink grapefruit and limes.
Mar de Frades Albariño Rías Baixas 2017 (Exel Wines £15.75)
Some of my favourite whites come from the north of Spain, when they are good, they’re the most refreshing in the world. The nose on this just jumped out of the glass, peaches, satsuma, orange rind, and then when you taste it, it’s lemony and creamy.
Braunewell Essenheimer Kalkstein Riesling 2015 (Lea & Sandeman £17.95)
I couldn’t resist putting in another Riesling, this time from the grape’s home, Germany. This is just starting to mature, taking on toasty, smoky notes on the nose and becoming creamy on the palate. But all the time there’s that limey acidity begging you to take another sip.