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vin santo

I am not sure if the late Barry White ever said “lurve” or if he even “saved my life”, but as the most romantic day of the year approaches we may legitimately ask – what is the language of love?  French, Italian and Spanish are three languages that spring immediately to mind – but how best should we communicate our true feelings to the object of our desires?

The Holy Roman Emperor Charles V said that he spoke Spanish to God, Italian to women, French to men, and German to his horse – the true object of his desires remains a mystery (his Queen was Portuguese) but my moneys on the horse.

As the VOR is the object of my desires, and a woman, I am going to follow the example of Charles and John Cleese inA Fish called Wanda“, and use Italian as my linguaggio dell’amore.

Valentine’s Day can be potentially tricky and difficult to get spot on. You may have got the wrong gift, you may have gone dangerously over the top and bought so many flowers that she may think you believe her to be deaf. You may have completely misjudged her mood and personality and bought some lingerie that you may be better off wearing yourself, or you may have mistakenly decided that it is all just a deeply cynical marketing ploy and have consequently failed to buy anything at all!  If any or all of these scenarios apply, wine is the answer.

A carefully chosen Selezione San Valentino, should smooth your passage through many a sticky situation. The word Romance is derived from the Latin Romanicus meaning “Roman style”, although some linguists believe that the English word romance derives from a vernacular French dialect – which is why you should kick off with some Champagne.

Now choose carefully, avoid the searingly acidic, tooth enamel destroying examples masquerading as bargains on the high street and get something with a high proportion of red grapes in the blend.

Champagne Gobillard, Brut Tradition NV  – should do the trick, a traditionally made wine with great character and finesse made metres away from the grave of Dom Perignon – how’s that for terroir. Gobillard et Fils are a family owned house a mere 5k from Epernay with 26 hectares of predominantly premier cru vines. Deliciously full bodied and well-rounded, made from 70% red grapes (Pinots’ Noir and Meunier) together with 30% Chardonnay, it’s just crying out for some oysters (native ones should cost about £1.85 each, Pacific ones £1.20 – at this time of year).

Follow up with some Prossecco Spago Frizzante, Ruggeri NV  – as nothing beats a double helping of bubbles.  The Ruggeri family of Valdobbiadene are regular recipients of Italy’s coveted Tre Bicchieri (three glasses) award, and this delicious example of their art is a little less fizzy than most Prosecco, with a fine, soft and gentle bead, coupled with aromas of apples and freshly baked biscuits. Just pull the string to release the cork.

Finish off with a Vin Santo DOC, 2007, from Fattoria dei Barbi.  This classic dessert wine from Tuscany is made from late harvested Trebbiano, Malvasia and Sangiovese grapes hung over wires in well-ventilated rooms and dried until well into the New Year. Pressed and fermented with natural yeasts around Eastertime – hence the name vin santo, literally “holy wine”- it is then aged in small barrels of oak or chestnut called caratelli.  Barbi’s wonderful viscous, intense, aromatic, nectar goes perfectly with Cantucci or Cantuccini – traditional, Tuscan, almond biscotti – so don’t forget those as well . As Barry once said “Your Sweetness is my Weakness”.

“Ti auguro un Buon San Valentino”.