What champagne to buy (and what not to buy) for Valentine's Day
Do you need to splash out on champagne for Valentine’s Day - and if so how much do you need to pay for it? You may not realise quite what pressure you’re under to spend over the odds
Must it be pink?
For a start, there’s the colour. Rosé champagne, which is heavily promoted at this time of year, costs more than ordinary non-vintage despite only being marginally more expensive to make. Compare the price of standard and rosé sparkling wine and you’ll see there’s little if any difference though English winemakers have tended to follow their French counterparts in slapping on a premium.
The new kid on the block this year is pink prosecco (producers who wanted to make a sparkling rosé couldn't call it prosecco before) which tends to be cheaper. Lidl does a very posh looking one for just £6.49.
Are the reductions genuine?
Well they have to have been sold at the original price by law but how often do you see them at that price? To take a typical example the full price of Bollinger is around £45-£50 normally though Harvey Nichols has it for £55. Waitrose is currently selling it for £35 - £10 cheaper than Tesco but still not cheap when you think about it. You could get a couple of REALLY good still wines for £35.
Should I buy vintage fizz?
Vintage champagne - champagne that comes from a single year rather than being blended from wines from several harvests - is pricier still. Generally it’s of a higher quality but unless you’re going to savour every sip (and haven’t you other things to concentrate on?) it’s possibly not worth it on this occasion.
What about a half bottle?
You need to be aware you're paying a premium for half bottles given the extra costs of bottling a non-standard size but that said It may be just the amount of champagne you actually want to drink. Two I recommended a couple of months ago in The Guardian are Pol Roger and Louis Roederer. You're more likely to find them in a local wine merchant though than in a supermarket. (My local, DBM Wines in Bristol generally has the Pol)
Do you pay for the name?
Then there’s the snob factor. You will pay inevitably pay more for a famous name than a lesser known champagne house or own label. Do by all means splash out on a grande marque if it will do the trick but If your loved one doesn't know one champagne from the next and would actually rather have a glass of prosecco don’t waste your money!
So what specifically should I buy?
As I've suggested it depends who you're buying it for but I’d be inclined to pick from one of these:
Sainsbury's brut rosé champagne £22
If you’re not a label fetishist this very pretty champagne which is made by the respected house of Duval-Leroy is great value. Often on special offer though sadly not at the moment.
Le Pionniers rosé from the Co-op £22
The rosé version of the Co-op's excellent Les Pionniers range is still the same price as when I first wrote this article in 2018. and is not wildly more expensive than the standard version.
Devaux Oeil de Perdrix £27.99 a bottle if you buy on a mix six deal from Majestic (not all of which have to be champagne)
Less well known but delicate and prettily packaged barely pink fizz which Majestic has been selling for yonks (oeil de perdrix means partidge's eye which admittedly may not be the big selling point for your loved one)
As I mentioned Asda and Waitrose are both selling Bolly for £35 which you may feel is worth a whirl. So does Amazon if you’re on Prime.
Taittinger Brut NV
A lighter, fresher style of champagne for those who don't like it too toasty and biscuity. Waitrose has it for £28 currently which is a pretty good deal.
Bredon Cuvée Jean Louis Brut £17.99 Waitrose
There’s a full 1/3 discount on this consistently reliable rich toasty fizz which is less than you’ll pay for full bottles of their own label fizz but they are selling half bottles for £11.99 currently and as part of their Valentine's Day meal deal.
These comparisons do show how wildly champagne prices can fluctuate - not only on V day, right throughout the year - so at least Google the champagne you’re thinking of buying to make sure you’re not paying over the odds. (Amazon, for example, may be the most convenient but it's rarely the cheapest for wine!)
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