Champagne tips and rosé recommendations for Valentine’s Day
I get that you are stressed – the day that your loved one has long been anticipating is obviously extremely important to ensure continued enrollment in the world of relationships. But let’s forget for a second about whether to play Barry White or not (but don’t) or how many candles to light. Forget about how to place the rose petals so it looks like you casually threw them up in the air and they landed in the shape of a heart because the energy of your love is streaming through the apartment. If you haven’t secured a good (over-priced) table at your favourite romantic restaurant, forget spilling the beans.
The trick to succeeding on Valentine’s day is to get your loved one in the right mood from the outset and what better way than to serve what invariably is considered the world’s most romantic drink – rosé champagne.
But before we get on to talk about which champagne to drink, let’s think about the glasses – because now it has to be perfect. The classic coupe glass, as beautiful as it is, has a large surface exposed to the air and thus the bubbles dissipate quickly. Also bearing in mind that they supposedly were modelled after Louis XV’s chief mistress Madame de Pompadour the contradicting themes of “another woman’s cleavage” and “chief mistress” may on this particular day be perilous. Use instead the more curved form of the tulip glass or just a regular white wine glass – not the popular flute.
Make sure you have it cooled down to 10C (50F), not more, not less. With a temperature below 10C the flavours hide and you miss out on a significant part of enjoyment.
When you open the champagne bottle, don’t shake it first and let some of it shoot out – that’s just tacky. Instead gently take the foil off just to where the cork sits (to make the bottle look nice), then unwind the muzzle and keep it on the cork. Holding the bottle at its base with one hand and fixating the cork and muzzle with the other, gently twist the bottle, slowly releasing the cork so that it just gives a soft ‘fzzzzzh’ sound when opened.
We tried four champagnes across different price points readily available to purchase at MMI and A&E liquor stores in the UAE. There are a few more alternative booze-buying options listed here. If you’re running late don’t fret, they have bottles chilled and ready for you.
- Ruinart Rosé (MMI – AED400 plus tax) – founded in 1729, Ruinart was the first ever champagne house. Its founder had an interesting uncle in Dom Thierry Ruinart who was taught winemaking by none other than Dom Pierre Perignon. Today both brands are owned by the LVMH group. The rosé mainly constitutes chardonnay which can be felt right on the nose with fresh citrus and lemon aromas. The Pinot Noir gives it a full body and the balance between the acidity of the lemon and the fruits of cherry and yellow apple is remarkable. A fantastic champagne.
- Veuve Clicquot-Ponsardin Rosé Vintage 2004 (MMI – AED485 plus tax) – during her remarkable lifetime, the widow Clicqout-Ponsardin became known as the Grande Dame La Champagne. After her husband died at an early age, she took over the production, actively involved in every detail. She was a remarkable businesswoman who made Jean-Remy Moët despair over her success in the Russian market and innovative production techniques. This tipple is mostly Pinot Noir, with some Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier. Another great champagne that has been aged for quite a long time now but still shows promise of a remarkable life ahead. With an amazing texture and balance, tastes of raspberry and ginger-spiced apple is the first of a symphony. An extraordinarily long aftertaste.
- Lanson Rosé (A&E – AED380 plus tax) – the difference between a champagne grower and champagne house is that a champagne house has the right to purchase grapes from growers, and Lanson defines the champagne house category by not owning any vineyards themselves. They are also steadfast in their belief of not using any malolactic fermentation which makes their champagnes more flowery rather than the bready, creamy texture other champagnes have. The Lanson Rosé is made from a blend of the three grapes. The champagne is young and on the nose quite closed; red berries drive the taste but seem underdeveloped and give an unripe appearance. This is one champagne that benefits from ageing.
- Laurent-Perrier Rosé (A&E – AED630 plus tax) – LP as it’s commonly abbreviated to, dates back to 1812, but it was in 1881 that the cellar master Eugene Laurent inherited the estate from its owner Monsieur Pierlot who had no succeeding heirs. Eugene Laurent tragically died in 1887, and his widow Mathilde Emilie Perrier took over the business and run it successfully under the name Veuve Laurent-Perrier. The rosé is made using the Rosé de Saignée method which is quite rare in La Champagne, as most rosé is made by blending a still red and white wine. It’s made exclusively from Pinot Noir and has a pink colour with hints of purple. The champagne is rich, and manages to boasts finesse and complexity without being too heavy. The palate has red fruits with overtones of cherry. Delicious.
And if this year for you is short on love, remember Coco Chanel’s wise words “I only drink champagne when I’m in love, and when I’m not”.
Bubbly wishes for a happy Valentine’s day 🙂
Who is Mathias Kahn? A long-time avid champagne lover, he resides in the UAE where he is establishing the distribution for Champagne HATT et SÖNER that he co-founded in 2009. He also doubles as the Swedish National Champion of the Art of Sabrage – how to open champagne bottles with a sword. Watch him in action at FooDiva’s next #DineAroundDubai. What he doesn’t know about champagne is not worth knowing.