FRANÇOISE PERETTI HELPS US CHOOSE THE PERFECT VALENTINE'S DAY CHAMPAGNE
1.) Which style of Champagne is the most popular on Valentine’s day? What would you recommend?
Champagne is THE wine of celebrations by excellence and therefore is a must for upcoming Valentine’s celebrations whether they are romantic têtes-à-têtes, Galentines or ‘Palentines’!
For Valentine’s I recommend to serve Rosé Champagne as it comes in delightful hues of pink and is so romantic. Pink Champagne was highly popular in the 1920s, and widely served in music halls and roaring parties. Today it accounts for 10% of champagne exports to the UK making us one of the top markets for this irresistible style.
It’s produced from 2 methods: rosé de saignée which means that the wines were produced by macerating the grape must with the black grape skins (pinot noir or/and pinot meunier) or by adding still red wine from the region to the golden must, a practice that is only allowed in the Champagne region.
Rosé Champagne comes in Non-Vintage, Vintage and Prestige Cuvée styles costing between £30 to £200+. My advice is to choose the style that fits your occasion and your pocketbook.
2.) Is Champagne best as an apéritif, or can I drink it throughout the evening?
Pink Champagne is a versatile wine which can be enjoyed at the aperitif and/or throughout the evening. Go by colours: the lighter it is the lighter, the better suited it is for the apéritif; deeper pinks indicate fuller bodied champagne which will match your food to perfection. The beauty of drinking champagne and only champagne throughout the evening is that you do not mix your drinks and stay happy throughout the celebration!
3.) Which dishes should I choose for my Valentine’s Day dinner to pair best with Champagne?
The last thing you want to do on Valentine’s is to be slaving in the kitchen. I recommend easy to prepare yet tasty and fun food. Forgo all the gimmicky and slightly ‘cheesy’ heart-shaped food unless it’s a lovely dessert such as heart-shaped chocolate tart. A classic Valentine’s pairing is smoked salmon with pink Champagne. Or delicious pasta topped with Bottarga, the delicious cured fish grey mullet roe; lobster or fillets of red mullet; simply roasted rack of lamb or duck breast with cranberry sauce. With pink champagne think …cheese which can be a meal in itself. My favourite champagne and cheese pairings are: Comté, Irish Berkswell, Killeen, Ragstone, Ticklemore. As a rule of thumb think ewes or goat cheeses which are a better match than cow milk cheese. Crown your supper with strawberry macaroons, pink eclairs or cupcakes.
4.) Which style of Champagne would pair well with chocolate truffles?
Pink Champagne or sweeter styles of champagne (confusingly called ‘sec’ or ‘demi-sec’)
5.) I’ve heard there are skinnier versions of Champagne, what can I choose if I’m looking to reduce calories?
Champagne has lower calories than other wines i.e. 95 calories in a glass of bubbly. However, I personally won’t be worrying too much about calories on the 14th of February as it’s a time to enjoy not feel guilty!