Few wines symbolize romance more than rosé Champagne. For starters, there is the rarity of it. The major Champagne houses have historically restricted rosé to less than 5% of their production, so merely finding it can sometimes be a conquest in itself. Then there is the texture: elegant and seductive, filled with hints of ripe, luscious red fruits.
Since Valentine’s Day falls on a Saturday this year, you have few excuses for not celebrating in style—although a restaurant may not be the perfect venue. It’s difficult to get a reservation, and the sight of dozens of diners waiting impatiently for your table hardly fuels the flames of passion. And if you choose to mark the occasion at home, that bottle of Champagne will cost you roughly one-third of the price on a restaurant wine list.
Here are some top picks in each price category:
- Under $50: The clear winner in this range is Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Rosé ($45; right): crisp and balanced, with mouth-watering flavors of currants, blackberries and raspberries.
- Under $100: Moët et Chandon offers a trio of choices: Brut Imperial Rosé ($60), the formidable Grand Vintage Rosé 2004 ($85), and Nectar Imperial Rosé ($70, containing a hefty 45 grams of sugar per liter, for those with a sweet tooth). Consider the Blason Rosé from Perrier-Jouët ($75; below), with haunting flavors of wild raspberry. The award for most food-friendly goes to Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Rosé Brut ($90), made from 100% Pinot Noir.
- Splurge: When money is no object, two brands come to mind: Dom Pérignon and Cristal. Cristal Rosé ($500) is the harder bottle to find, although having three vintages on the market (2004, 2005 and 2006) makes the search easier. The 2002 Dom Rosé ($345) is the most available, although if you can find a bottle of the 2000 ($330) you’ll remember it for years to come. For a real treat, snag the Pommery Cuvée Louise 2000 ($235)—intense and persistent, with a haunting red berry essence.
Mark Spivak is the author of Iconic Spirits: An Intoxicating History (Lyons Press, 2012) and Moonshine Nation (Lyons Press, 2014); for more information, go to amazon.com