Valentine’s Day is dangerous. Plan too much and you can be accused of falling for the corporate advertising ploy. If you ignore the holiday altogether, you obviously don’t care.
If you are reading this column and you have not booked a restaurant already, I can guarantee it is too late. If you are smart you will rustle up a stunning meal a la Nigel Slater or Nigella Lawson, get a bottle from your local wine bodega and save eating out until later.
Choosing a restaurant is another challenge. Try this trick. Pick the restaurant by its sparkling wine. Most restaurants have three choices, a Prosecco, a standard house like Moet & Chandon and a vintage similar to Veuve Cliquot. You are in luck if their fizz list expands beyond these three. You expect a good catalogue of wines at certain restaurants like the Randolph, the Ashmolean Dining Room and Le Manoir, who tweeted “Might be quicker to say what's not on our list!”
Blenheim Palace is known for its champagne bar, but not a restaurant that you would immediately think of during Valentine’s Day. The do offer alternative celebrations. Try their Sunday lunch at the Orangery. You can order from their extensive list of Champagnes which include Pol Roger Cuvée Winston Churchill 1999 for £140.00. This Champagne is named after the Prime Minister that enjoyed its full-bodied style. If that is too expensive, try the Besserat Grande Tradition Brut Rosé. The colour is a gorgeous pink and it only costs £50/bottle. To reserve your Champagne ahead of time call 01993 813874 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
I was delighted to find the Oxford Blue on 32 Marston Street, Oxford, sells the Balfour English Rosé from Kent. While it is not on the wine list, owner Chris Murray is offering it for £39.50 a bottle for Valentines Day. If you miss it tonight, ask nicely this weekend and he will probably find a bottle for you.
Finally No. 1 Folly Bridge, at Folly Bridge in the city center has a value Champers. The Chassenay d’Arce, Cuvee Premier Brut is £37 a bottle. Its golden colour and honey flavour will add a sparkle to any occasion.