Fizz that does the bizz
Siobhan Grogan lists the top pink champagnes, proseccos and sparkling wines for Valentine’s Day (and beyond)
Nothing sets a celebratory mood quite like the pop of a champagne cork. But choosing a rosé sparkling wine can add an extra touch of glamour, particularly if you’re drinking with someone you love and are looking to impress.
The wine is turned pink in one of two ways. Red grapes can either remain in contact with their skins for a time to take on
some of their colour, or a little red wine can be blended with white after the initial fermentation. Either way, you can expect flavours of red fruits, such as strawberries and cherry, perhaps floral or brioche notes and plenty of vibrant bubbles from your sparkling pink vino.
Especially popular on Valentine’s Day, a bottle of pink fizz can also range in colour from the palest blush to a stronger orangehued pink. Generally soft and fruity, these sparkling wines are ideal as an aperitif drunk on their own but also can work well with food, including seafood dishes, strawberry desserts and charcuterie. The wines generally have a higher acidity too, which can cut through richer or fattier foods such as roast lamb and Asian dishes.
Don’t be put off if you’ve tasted sickly sweet pink sparkling in the past either. Look for the word brut on the label to find a fizz that will taste dry – although fruity aromas may make it seem sweeter than it really is. Avoid bubbles labelled demi-sec or doux if you want a dryer drink.
Champagne is perhaps the best-known option when it comes to something sparkling, and must be made to strict rules using a blend of pinot noir, pinot Meunier and chardonnay. However, pink bubbly doesn’t have to come from the famous French region (or have a price tag to match), with pink fizz now being made around the world. Other sparkling wines worth knowing include Spanish cava, English sparkling wine and Italian prosecco – the rosé version of which was only officially permitted by the Italian government in 2020. We’ve included a wide range in this round-up, so you can find your favourite for every occasion.
How we tested
We made sure every pink sparkling wine we tested was served chilled and at its best, then sipped and sampled every one alone and alongside food, including seafood, fruity desserts and spicy stir-fries. We looked for effervescence, enticing aromas and appealing flavours that we would be thrilled to raise a glass with at a special event or even drink year-round.
Simpsons wine estate canterbury rosé 2019: £35, Simpsons wine
Stick to homegrown pink fizz and you definitely won’t be disappointed. More than a match for its more famous French counterpart, this English sparkling comes from Simpsons’ Wine Estate on the North Downs of Kent. This was set up by Charles and Ruth Simpson in 2012 when they returned to the UK after a decade spent making award-winning wine at their vineyard in southern France. The protected chalk slopes in Kent proved the perfect spot to make stand-out sparkling, having first been planted with vines when the Romans invaded England in AD 43.
Made from 100 per cent exclusively estate-grown, hand-picked pinot noir grapes, this rosé sparkling is simply the taste of summer in a glass. Unmistakably pink, it’s chock-full of rose and strawberry aromas, like a sunny English garden, and has a palate of wild berries with a twist of almond, to ensure it doesn’t ever taste too sweet. A lingering finish will have you reaching for that second glass every time.
Ca’ di Rajo rosé brut prosecco Treviso DOC millesimato 2019: £17.45, Independent Wine UK
Pink prosecco may not yet be as wildly popular as the usual white version but this one definitely makes it worth making the switch. Light and balanced, it’s created from glera and pinot noir grapes from the village of Rai, 30 miles north of Venice, and has already picked up awards, including a bronze medal at the Decanter World Wine Awards 2021.
It’s a pure delight to drink, too, like devouring a bowl of strawberries and cream. Every mouthful reveals something unexpected, including the tang of cranberries, the juiciness of ripe raspberries and even a note of spicy pepper that makes this pink fizz a real Italian triumph.
Taittinger brut prestige rosé NV: £44, Sainsburys
If you’re really looking to win someone over, this is the only bottle to reach for. Taittinger is one of the best-known names in champagne and is also one of the last great independent champagne houses. Lauded around the world for their exceptionally elegant champagnes, the Taittinger family have made an equally celebrated pink version that is deliciously crisp to drink.
Perfect served with oysters for extra wow factor, it has a striking salmon-pink colour and a rush of red fruit flavours, including strawberry and raspberry. Expect hints of lemon and honeysuckle, a delicate mousse and a lingering spicy finish from the pinot noir that adds surprising body. Pure pink paradise.
Vilarnau rosé reserve organic cava: £10, Ocado
We’d buy this cava for the gorgeous bottle alone, inspired by the architecture of Gaudi in Vilarnau’s home city of Barcelona. The winery is known for its vegan-friendly sparkling wines and is just outside the city, less than 20 miles from the Mediterranean Sea, with idyllic mountain views.
Made using the same traditional method as champagne, this cava is a gorgeous pale pink and packed with fine, delicate bubbles that really make drinking it feel like a celebration. It’s produced from a blend of grenache and pinot noir grapes and brims with the ripe red flavours of summer fruits, including strawberry and raspberry, to make this a true Spanish stunner.
Piaff rosé brut champagne: £52, Champagne Piaff
If you’re splashing out on champers for someone special, this rosé from Champagne Piaff will really feel like a treat. It’s made using the traditional method, with a minimum of two years on lees, and is produced from a blend of chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier grapes grown in France’s Marne River valley. Yet winemaker Maxime Mansard has brought a modern twist to his bubbly, making a bright, sun-baked wine full of mouthcoating bubbles and with a satisfying depth. It explodes with fruity flavours, including strawberries, red apples and cherries, with toasty biscuit notes and a wonderful creamy finish we loved.
Adnams prosecco rosé DOC: £11.99, Adnams
It’s easy to pick up a cheap bottle of pink prosecco but this one is a cut above the average supermarket offerings, yet still with a good price tag. A gorgeous light blush colour like a Provençal rosé, it has a beautifully balanced acidity and is surprisingly fullbodied. Though there are definite fruity notes of peach and lemon on the nose, we especially liked the fact this pink fizz replaces the typical red fruit flavours for a more floral finish, which we found worked well with creamy pasta. For this price, you won’t need to wait for a special occasion to drink it either. However, if you do want to splash out, we also rate Adnams Selection rosé champagne (£33.99, Adnams.co.uk) for its red berry elegance.
Chapel Down rosé brut: £23.99, The Bottle Club
It’s no surprise Chapel Down is now firmly established as the UK’s leading wine producer. Its vineyards in the North Downs of Kent have a similar terroir to those in Champagne, with south-facing chalk soil and warm sea air helping to produce award-winning sparkling wines that are served by the likes of the Royal Opera House and Ascot.
This delightfully crisp rosé brut is produced using the traditional method made famous by champagne but using 100 per cent pinot noir grapes grown in Kent, Sussex and Essex. Its lipsmacking strawberry and cherry flavours, delicate bubbles and shortbread notes make it ideal to serve after a meal with a showstopping tart or meringue piled high with fruit and cream.
Champagne Lombard premier cru rosé extra brut NV: £45, Wickham Wine
You stand a good chance of finding a great bottle of bubbly if you choose one labelled premier cru – a historic term awarded to superior-quality vineyards in some of the best areas of the Champagne region. This one is produced using a blend of 50 per cent chardonnay, 40 per cent pinot noir and 10 per cent of a grand cru red wine from Verzenay.
It’s a real treat to drink, too, with a good acidity and sharp dryness that makes it work well with all sorts of food, including traditional fish and chips. Fruit flavours, including raspberries and cherries, are well balanced with a hint of nuttiness and a pop of citrus, to keep things interesting. A seriously superior sparkling.
Champagne Guy Charlemagne brut rosé NV: £35.18, Honest Grapes
A pink champagne with a difference, this bubbly is made using the more unusual saignée method, where the wine gains its colour from contact with the skins rather than adding red wine to white. It’s produced using 100 per cent pinot noir grapes grown in the chalk clay soil of the Charlemagne vineyards in Sezanne and aged for at least two years in underground cellars.
The pinot noir means this pink champagne has more muscle than we expected, too, with a fuller flavour and deeper colour than most of the others we tested, plus a palate-pleasing freshness we loved. Serve it alongside salmon sandwiches and scones smothered in strawberry jam during afternoon tea, and you’ll be in heaven.
Astoria fashion victim rosé: £13.55, Honest Grapes
This prosecco-style pink fizz is just as chic as the embossed bottle it comes in, which is actually a map of the canals of Venice. Made with 10 per cent pinot noir added to the glera grapes that always make prosecco, it’s fantastically fruity, bursting with strawberry and raspberry flavours with an unexpected note of rose. There’s a definite touch of sweetness in the mix that makes this ideal to drink on its own as an aperitif but the dry finish and balanced acidity means it would also work a treat with seafood pasta or even a selection of sushi. Plus, the bottle will look great out on the dinner table.
Pink fizz makes any occasion seem a little more exciting. All these wines will give a party added sparkle but Simpsons wine estate canterbury rosé 2019 is our stand-out bubbly pick, for its homegrown appeal and blissful summery flavours. If it really has to be champagne, go straight for the Taittinger brut prestige rosé NV – a classic name deserving of its world-class reputation.
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