Mme Lily Bollinger, former head of the famous Champagne house, was once asked when she drank Champagne. She replied: when she was happy, when she was sad, sometimes when she was alone, always when she had company and whenever she was hungry or not. Apart from that, she claimed never to touch it – unless she was thirsty!
Now, although my wife and I enjoy our wine (not necessarily Champagne), we agreed long ago that, unlike Mme Bollinger, we wouldn’t open a bottle every day. So, unless we’re celebrating a birthday or anniversary or we’re entertaining friends, we usually restrict ourselves to a bottle with our dinners at weekends. But last Wednesday was different – as you’ll see from the picture above, it was Valentine’s Day, and not just that, it was our 40th Valentine’s Day together (I could suggest we met when we were very, very young but it wouldn’t be true!) So, forget the fact it was a Wednesday, out came the glasses and a bottle of one of our favourite English fizzes: Camel Valley (Cornwall) Pinot Noir Rosé (Waitrose, £28.99).
I’m not sure if it was the effect of the wine, but we started chatting about why February 14th has become so closely linked with romance and why St Valentine? We found a number of conflicting explanations in Wikipedia and other sources: I liked the one about the Ancient Roman festival of Lupercalia, which was connected to fertility, being observed around this time of year. My wife preferred the quote from Geoffrey Chaucer who wrote that St. Valentine’s Day was the day when every bird chooses his mate. (Although she did point out that it was a woman’s right to choose her mate!)
Whoever is right, by the 19th century, Valentine’s Day and Valentines cards were well established and the practice, happily, is likely to continue for many years to come. But, back to wine: our celebratory choice had a delightful deep salmon pink colour with an attractive nose of crushed strawberries and a delicate but mouth-filling mousse.
As for food matches? Almost anything, so long as it’s shared with a very good friend or partner!
Happy (belated) Valentines Day