In anticipation of Valentine’s Day next week we’ve got the definitive list of London’s Top 10 most romantic restaurants and the Top 10 restaurants for romance outside the capital too, as voted for by you in our annual survey. To ensure your date has extra sparkle this 14 February, we’ve teamed up with the International Wine & Spirit Competition (IWSC) to bring you their top 10 recommendations for wines and Champagnes to pair with your dinner. And you won’t want to miss out on these six essential dos and don’ts for planning the perfect Valentine’s Day…
Deep dark red with garnet rim. Ample, ripe bouquet infused with spices, dried orange peel and enhanced by tarry oak aromas. The palate is massive, full bodied, concentrated, silky smooth and offers lavish, mellow flavours reminiscent of licorice, creamy texture and hugely seductive, leaving a long lasting after-taste. Seriously good and perfect to drink now.
Where to buy: Woodwinters Wines and Whiskies Â£60
Aromas of red cherries, liquorice, anise with a hint of herbs and vanilla. On the palate, rounded full bodied with soft tannins and length and elegant finish.
Where to buy: Majestic WineÂ Â£40
Lovely delicate pink with persistent slow fine mousse. Plenty of fruit and full of Pinot character, savoury strawberry aromas. These combine with beautiful yeasty autolytic notes of freshly baked bread. Zesty fresh acidity balances the rich apricot flavours. Elegant and long finish.
Where to buy: Just in Cases Â£31.50
Pale yellow with greenish glints. Citrus peel, rising dough, crushed pistachio nuts on the nose. Beautifully dry in the mouth, the flavours are very long and elegant.
Where to buy: The Wine Society Â£9.50
Delicate and very persistent bubbles roll sensuously over the tongue revealing flavours of yellow plum, apple, with brioche, toasty savoury nuts. The palate is layered with a chalky texture. Remarkably fresh and youthful for age, will go on and on.
Where to buy: The Whisky Exchange Â£145
Evolved rose gold colour with fine persistent small bubbles that burst on the nose with aromas of wild strawberry. A delicate and elegant wine with long finish and layers of complexity from yeasty almond Danish and brioche notes, intense but not heavy gives a light touch to the lengthy finish.
Where to buy: The Whisky Exchange Â£162
Pale rose-salmon tinted with fine yet powerful bubbles, nose is delicate with apple fruit, fresh yeast and lovely dried flower accent. On the palate, vinous, textural depth and concentrated flavours, bracing acidity, hint of orange zest. Multi-layered wine.
Where to buy: The Champagne Collection Â£55.20
Lemon colour. Fragrant nose of burnt sugar and pineapples. Mouth watering acidity with lemon curd, caramel and candied apple. Long honeyed length.
Where to buy: Reif Estate Winery $120
Fancy something stronger? Try a trophy-winning whisky…
The aroma is firstly driven by a unique distillery character, which pairs with the oak to give foam penny banana sweets, ought hints of tobacco and some mint. the palate has some additional green veg, freshly steamed and just ‘al dente’ enough to retain flavour with the finish giving some seas salt and milk chocolate notes.
Where to buy: The Whisky Shop Â£110
Velvety notes of plums and damsons, with some quince jelly and a wholesome note of delicately smoked meats. The palate gives a richness of cookie dough, creme bruluee topping, more plums and some sour cherry. The finish adds a hint of spice and more cherry notes, this time sweet and fresh cherry.
Where to buy: Master of Malt Â£63.90
Top six dos and don’ts this Valentine’s Day
There’s nothing worse than leaving it until the day before to make your plans for dinner only to find that every place is all booked up. Start the day off right by getting organised now – check out Harden’s picks of this year’s best Valentine’s Day menus and get booking.
If you don’t fancy an evening out – or left it too late to book a table – why not consider going out for a romantic brunch or afternoon tea instead – it’s not all about the swanky dinner. Plenty of restaurants with Valentine’s Day dinner menus run throughout the day with lunch options available too.
Try something different this year and opt for an activity alongside your dinner, like learning how to make your own cocktails or taking a trendy oyster and wine matching masterclass. Not only will it make for a great bonding experience, you’ll also learn something new together and – most importantly – get to enjoy the result of your hard work at the end.
There’s no denying that there’s a lot of pressure for things to be perfect once February 14 rolls around, but at the end of the day it’s the thought that counts. There’s a range of dining options available in a more affordable price range, and as long as you’re together you’re sure to have a great time no matter how much you spend.
Chain restaurants are guaranteed to be a crowd-pleaser and there are certainly some great ones around, but Valentine’s Day is the perfect opportunity to try somewhere unique for a more memorable experience. Why not surprise your date with a table at that place they’ve always wanted to go to, or discover somewhere completely new and exciting together?
What is Valentine’s Day without a glass (or three) of wine, after all? We’ve compiled a list of the International Wine & Spirit Competition’s best award-winning wines to celebrate with this year. Try pairing an Argentinian Malbec with your steak, opt for a fino sherry if you’re having oysters, or keep it classic with a bottle of sparkling rosé or Champagne.