Heavenly wine and roses for Valentine’s Day

At this very special time of year, one’s thoughts tend towards love and romance, to wine and to roses.

By An Occasional Tipple With Raymond Gleug
Saturday, 12th February 2022, 6:00 am

Love, the Good Book tells us, is patient and kind; it is never jealous, boastful or conceited. And indeed, my darling French wife, the illustrious Madame G., had good reason to chide me over this after I goaded her relentlessly about how we were bound to bate the Frenchies and take the Six Nations trophy back home to where it belongs following our hammering of Wales last Saturday. Two tries by my own cousin, Andrew Conway, into the bargain.

Love is nothing, however, if not forgiving so I will accept her pardon. I promise to be more considerate from now on, say no more about how great Ireland are at rugby for a week or two at least and move along to recommending some delightful Chilean wine for all you lovebirds out there. This year I plan to woo my woman with a sumptuous platter of roast lamb, Dauphinoise potatoes and a medley of seasonal vegetables which I shall match with the sombre, brooding, judiciously oaked and extravagantly flavoursome 2020 Errazuriz Max Carmenere (£12, Tesco but reduced to £9 for Clubcard holders). This medium-bodied, deep crimson red has pronounced black cherry and brambly aromas which are nicely complemented by dark, smoky backnotes. Generous mouthfuls of cherry, raspberry and plum flavours are firmly balanced by gentle tannins before a smooth, tangy finish with plenty of oak and spice. The only potential drawback of this burly red is that at a whopping 13.5% alcohol, it may be a tad overpowering for the more delicate among you. I would particularly advise any gentlemen harbouring notions of strenuous exertion later in the evening to enjoy in moderation.

That’s the red lovers sorted out for the night but those of you who prefer white may instead wish to check out today’s Wine of the Week, the remarkably zesty, aromatic and mineral-rich 2020 M&S Classics Soave Classico (currently £7.50). Bright notes of melon and elderflower mingle pleasingly with more saline, flinty flavours on its complex palate before a deliciously dry, lingering finish. Fresh and vibrant, this classy Italian white’s impish character seems almost emblematic of a stolen kiss or an accidentally tingly brushing of the thighs at the back-seat of the local picture-house. Ah, sweet memories!

An Occasional Tipple With Raymond Gleug

As you luxuriate in your own intimate and, one hopes, decadent soirees, it may interest you to know that while the French may see themselves as the kingpins of romance and rugby, we can teach our garlic-munching cousins a thing or two about the former. Let me expand, dear tipplers. While studying theology at the Sorbonne many moons ago, I came across the story of Irish Carmelite priest, Fr. John Spratt. So impressed was Pope Gregory XVI with Spratt’s teaching on the subject of romantic love that he gifted St. Valentine’s remains along with several lesser relics to the Carmelite order. And they reside to this day in the Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Whitefriars St., Dublin.

The Irish naturally made a big deal out of this and turned the saint’s feast into a celebration of romance. Being Irish, they were instinctively secretive and devious and so the tradition of sending cards and tokens of love anonymously was born. And so this year when my lovely Madame, after one glass too many, begins to tell me about how it was the French who invented romance, I could simply correct her. But I think I shall prefer to pour her another glass of our lavishly fruity and smooth Carmenere and to simply nod along, while marvelling at the patience and kindness of love which is never jealous, boastful or conceited. Till next week, tipplers, sante!

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