Hmmm…St. Valentine’s Day! Most of us would probably agree that it can be intimate and a bit of a treat to open up a bottle of something special on the day, maybe to recall a memory of a first date, a holiday with friends in foreign climes or at home, or perhaps just content to sit with knees tucked under, savouring a glass of wine, simply for its own enjoyment.

We (wrongly) stereotype so many aspects of life these days that, with tongue very firmly in cheek, I thought it would be fun to imagine (without knowing the people involved at all*) what I might suggest on this most celebrated of romantic days. *close friends and extended family of mine…


THE LATE TO PARENTHOOD FRIENDS Relaxed, fun to be with, forty-somethings with toddlers. They drink less than they did pre-children, but like good bottles. They may cook a homemade rogan josh and perhaps enjoy with it a bottle of William Fèvre Espino Carmenere from Maipo, Chile. There is almost always a stash of half-bottles of Champagne in their fridge. Half bottles do not feature largely in my own wine supply but, if drunk promptly and not kept for too long, they are great fun and feel almost illicit! Veuve Fourny Rosé is a pink grower Champagne with real teeth, yet elegant.

FRIENDS IN THE SHIRES Beautiful stone (cold) house. Fond of picnics and have huge wicker hamper big enough to live in. Love a good Gin and Tonic – as do I! Slight deviation from wine I know, but still… and they are fond of Warner Edwards Rhubarb Gin, as am I, of its spicy and beautifully pink hue (a strange but convenient coincidence…but, back to wine). They love a good Chablis and Chablis Jules Billaud is a good one – unoaked, clean and pure Chardonnay with melon notes and a superb finish.

FRIENDS WHO ARE GOOD AT SUSTAINABILITY The garden is full of all things edible. Recycling has been elevated to an art form and I often leave there with vague, can’t put my finger on it, but must do more, guilt… They love and drink biodynamic wine… as such, when visiting I might take The Hedonist Shiraz from McLaren Vale, Australia. It is delicious with rich, ripe and chocolate notes, unfiltered and biodynamic. Or, if I really wanted to show empathy and drink well at the same time, I would go ‘natural’ and take a bottle of Herve Souhaut Souteronne Gamay, a VdP de l’Ardèche. Made from old vine Gamay (the grape used in Beaujolais). Not cheap at around £24.00, but it really is exceptional.

THE FRIENDS UP THE ROAD Friends who call in on the spur of the moment and don’t mind in the slightest if I do exactly the same. If they call on me they might bring something like a Picpoul. Domaine Felines Jourdan Picpoul has been known to make an appearance and, if asked, I might suggest a Grüner Veltliner perhaps around the £10-£12 mark.

THE PARTY FRIENDS I have had many an outrageous lunch and/or dinner with these friends and, truth be told, they have included a combination of all the groups I am mentioning. If we were all feeling fairly flush (cost around £75 a bottle) we would chip in for a bottle to share, before moving onto numerous bottles reflecting individual preference. However, the first bottle would be Teusner Righteous FG Shiraz. It’s an absolute beast of a wine and, unusually for my taste, higher in alcohol than I would normally buy, but once tasted, never forgotten. The FG stands for F*****g Great apparently and according to the winemakers marketing, but they sort of have a point…

THE ROMANTIC FRIENDS For me, Pinot Noir is the grape of seduction and Dom de la Pousse d’Or Clos Tavannes is full of rich berry notes and spice – sheer elegance. Romantic doesn’t always mean ‘new’. I have friends that have been together for many years who would put newly together couples to shame and I love them for it. I am hoping that eventually it will rub off on me…and when it doesn’t, I can console myself by opening a bottle of Kumeu River Estate Chardonnay from New Zealand. This is a uniquely New Zealand wine, but taste it blind and you may mistake it for a Burgundy two times its £18.00 price tag.



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