After 19 years of wedded bliss, Valentine’s Day is not what it used to be. Come to think of it, I’m not sure it ever was what it used to be. I’ve missed the last three (there is a God) but this year – for the same reason – I got off a red-eye from Los Angeles mid-afternoon on the 14th. Club Class (“because I’m worth it”) notwithstanding, a shag was going to be, as they say, out of the question.
Nonetheless, I still had the strength in me to open a bottle or two. For fizz, and with an eye to ameliorating a fraction of the cost of that ticket, I plumped for stylish Pongrácz Rosé from South Africa. The design of the bottle alone is worth the money but the seductive strawberry fruit makes you wonder if it’s worth paying three times the price to have the word “Champagne” on the label.
For even less, it should be noted that Australian sparkler Griffith Park, which won a blind tasting by Which? magazine a couple of years ago against some, er, stiff opposition is still upstanding and setting a bench-mark for bargain fizz.
I wasn’t up to much in the way of dinner so had a couple of puddings instead. I surprised my soulmate (and, believe me, after 19 years you have to work on the surprises) with an English sticky. Yes, an English sticky – from Chapel Down, a delicate, late harvest number by the name of Nectar, made from a mix of unpronounceable German grapes and weighing in at a feather-light 8% abv. It’s the first English sticky I’ve liked and I’d drink it with the usual suspects or on its own but – in either case – with pleasure.
It is the diametric opposite of Harvey’s PX – the other pudding choice – and who would ever guess that they were made from the same basic stuff? This is a treacle-rich toffee-fest and it’s double the abv but deep within in it there’s still a streak of the same limey acidity that they share in their DNA and which makes sense of it all. Who knows – another glass and anything could have happened.