“Valentine’s Day is a time of indulgence,” says Oscar Malek, head sommelier at the luxurious hotel and spa, Chewton Glen, at the edge of the New Forest. “Richer foods call for richer wines.”
And, according to Oscar, you don’t have to go for red. If you prefer white, try some of the more robust styles from Germany and Austria which are not only elegant, but are bursting with ripe fruit and have a mouth-filling texture. Grűner veltliner is Austria’s white grape. The good wines are aromatic and brimming with spicy flavours. Grüner Veltliner 2011 Liebenberg Smaragd Weingut Prage (£29.95, bbr.com) is a good one to try.
|Oscar Malek at Chewton Glen restaurant|
Also look out for rieslings, which tend to be fruity and range from sweet to dry. Gewürztraminer, renowned for its exotic aroma, produces rich wines and, says Oscar, they tend to be low in acidity. As well as Germany, this grape is grown in the French region of Alsace. Gewurztraminer d'Epfig, 2009, Domaine Ostertag (£21.75, bbr.com). This Gewurtztraminer from Alsace is a well-made extremely drinkable wine.
Oscar also suggests trying Australian wines as they are inclined to be beefy. Grapes he recommends are viognier which is reminiscent of peaches and apricots, and pinot gris, an explosion of peaches and pears with crisp acidity. Also look out for the other New World variations.
Worth trying is Yalumba Organic Viognier (£8.99, waitrose.com) from Australia.
If you do prefer red wine, instead of the usual merlot or cabernet sauvignon, go for Les Vignobles Foncalieu Les Ilustres from VDP Coteaux d’Ensérune (£19.99, thesecretcellar.co.uk) a blend of cabernet sauvignon and syrah with a touch of merlot and marselan. This wine delivers a powerful punch, yet is beautifully balanced.
By Daralyn Danns