If you’re feeling a little bit adventurous this February 14th why not try sparkling red wine?
We’ve always been a bit dubious of red sparkling wine. It conjures memories of cheap Lambrusco, sweet to taste and cloying on the tongue. But just like a lot of things that have got better over the years (English wine in general for one), red sparkling wine has improved and we’re now even making it on British soil.
Produced predominantly from Pinot Noir, this non-vintage red sparkling has concentrated red fruit (strawberries, raspberries and cherries) and earthy notes, which are offset by a crisp but balanced acidity. Named after Balfour Winery’s co-founder Leslie Balfour-Lynn, whose idea it was to plant the vineyard at Hush Heath, the bottle-fermented wine has a dosage of 20 g/l and pairs nicely with wholesome winter grub, although would work just as well in summer, popped open over a hearty barbecue.
Aged on lees for four years, this sweet sparkling red wine is made from non-vintage Dornfelder grapes and has ripe red fruit aromas, such as cherry and redcurrant moving to summer fruits like strawberries and raspberries on the palate. There’s a creamy richness from malolactic fermentation and the mousse is lively and long-lasting. If you’re cooking up duck for your Valentine then this would make a lovely pairing.
Okay so we cheated a little with this one as it’s not made on British soil but it is made by English wine producers. Domaine Sainte Rose is the Languedoc sister vineyard to Simpsons in Canterbury, which are both owned by Ruth and Charles Simpson. This is the cheapest of the four we tried but also the only vintage bottle. Made from 100% Syrah (Shiraz) grapes it held its own in terms of flavour and we think would work well if you’re planning a Chinese takeaway for your Valentine’s date night.
New kid on the block, Ridgeview’s limited edition Sparkling Red Reserve is probably our favourite of the four. Made from the Sussex vineyard’s finest Pinot Noir grapes, which have been fermented on their skins, this gives us Black Forest Gateau vibes with aromas of cherry and vanilla, with more cherry and forest fruits balanced with a little pepper and spice on the palate. Cosy up for a dinner for two of steak and chips, followed by a cheeseboard, and this will see you through.