What's more romantic than Champagne? Pink Champagne or sparkling wine. I've been pitched all sorts of wines to recommend for Valentine Day celebrations, but most of the wines are still wines. None of those will do. For me, it's bubbles or nothing. And they should be pink.
The traditional choice is Champagne, and my go-to wine is the Billecart-Salmon NV Rosé, with its delicate bubbles and salmon pink hue. This is a brut sparkler, very dry, with a subdued floral and fruity aroma, a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. At around $75 it is a splurge -- but believe it or not, it's available on Amazon.com
I'm a big fan of California sparkling wine, and some of the best bubbly is produced by Domaine Carneros. This house is in the Carneros region of Napa, which is a fantastic region for growing sparkling wine grapes. For Valentine's Day, the exceptional Cuvée de la Pompadour ($36) perfectly fits the bill, with a romantic story behind the label. Madame de la Pompadour, Louis XV's mistress, is said to have introduced Champagne to the French court at Versailles in the 1700's. She is known for saying, "Champagne is the only wine a woman can drink and remain beautiful." The Cuvée de la Pompadour is a beautiful sparkling wine, light rose in color, with tiny, persistant bubbles. It has a bouquet of strawberries, stone fruit and white flowers. This brut style wine is a blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. [Sample from winery]
Spain's sparkling wines offer great value. Called Cava, it's also made in the traditional method of Champagne. I find the wines of Seguras Viudas to be exceptional values, and at $10 you can't go wrong with the Brut Rosé, a non-vintage sparkler. Full of red berries like cherry, it's an easy drinking wine. The grapes in this bottle are Garnacha (a.k.a Grenache) and Trepat, both in the Penedès region of Spain outside of Barcelona.
From Italy, I like the Berlucchi Cuvée 61 Rosé ($24) This comes from the Franciacorta region, which is in Lombardy. This non-vintage bubbly is not a Prosecco, but a wine made in the metodo classico, which means it is made in the same way a Champagne is made, with the secondary fermentation happening in the bottle. But it doesn't carry the hefty price tag of Champagne. Berlucchi's Cuvée 61 is a Rosé of Pinot Noir blended with Chardonnay. Fresh and bright, with strawberry and red plum fruit. [Sample from winery]
If I had to pick my one favorite of sparkling Rosé, it has to be Mionetto's "MO" Cuvée Rosé 1887 NV. This sparkling wine comes from the Valdobbiadene region in Italy. It is fresh and lively, with bright red fruit and zesty acidity. I love the red berries and rose aroma on this wine. In other words, it's just delicious. The price of $18 is also much more affordable than many other sparklers. The date 1887 on the label is for the year that the house of Mionetto was established.