by Ian Blackshaw
With St Valentine’s Day – Le Jour d’Amour as the French, stereotypically, prefer to call it! – looming on the horizon, I thought I would pen a few lines about Pink Champagne, which is a favourite drink to celebrate the day – not only in France, but throughout the world!
Pink Champagne is made in the Champagne wine region of France by one of two methods.
Pinot Noir grapes
Either red wine is added to white wine until the preferred color is reached; or the skins of the black grapes – champagne is usually made from two-third black grapes and one-third white – are left with the juice after pressing, which dyes it a light red, or pink, colour. The latter method – using the grape skins as a kind of dye – is the most commonly used one and, indeed, is, generally, the preferred method for producing pink champagne – also, more correctly, known as Rose Champagne.
Most Champagne Houses produce Pink Champagne, so there is a wide variety to choose from – ranging from the great names – ‘les grades marques’ – to the lesser ones, to suit, of course, one’s pocket.
One of the great names to conjure with is Laurent Perrier, whose Rose Champagne is excellent and, apparently, the favourite tipple of Prince Charles – presumably Camilla likes it too! It is also liked very much by our two sons, who order it on every conceivable celebratory occasion at, of course, our expense!
Incidentally, Laurent Perrier was the first Champagne House to use the Chardonnay grape in the production of champagne. As far as Pink Champagne is concerned, Laurent Perrier uses only the Pinot Noir grapes, which are picked by hand and only the ripest.
This gives the wine its characteristic fruitiness, and some Champagne lovers find it too sweet. However, some producers of Pink Champagne are able to vary the sweetness.
The wine is kept in barrels for four years before being bottled. And the distinctive bottle used by Laurent Perrier dates from Henry V times.
So, go one, spoil yourself and indulge in some Pink Champagne in the name of St Valentine, whose existence, by the way, is surrounded by mystery and myth, apart from the fact that there may well have been at least three St Valentine’s to celebrate!