No one seems to know exactly why the Anglo Saxon world connects drinking pink wine with a Roman priest called Valentine allegedly executed over 1,800 years ago this week.
However, as there are some especially sound, reliable and tasty rosés at all price points this year, we should not be too picky about the legitimacy of any link that justifies getting to grips with them.
Sadly, it is often necessary to reconcile romantic aspirations with the arrival of January’s credit card bill, so let’s begin with budget rosés – particularly food-friendly ones. Here, the priority is avoiding the higher levels of residual sugar that seem to dominate many so-called modern rosés. A good meal-time nominee is 2010 Finest Touriga Nacional Rosé (£5, down from £6.99 until Thursday, Tesco). It draws aromatic cherry fruit from a formidable port grape, retains depth and substance but injects a concluding savoury twist.
Top billing among the off-dry, drink anytime versions goes to the terrific 2011 Castellore Pinot Grigio Blush (£4.29, Aldi) that uses just enough sweetness to accentuate its soft strawberry fruit but balances it with green apple acidity. An even bigger dab of sugar emerges in 2012 Jacob’s Creek Cool Harvest Shiraz Rosé (£5.48, down from £7.48 until 20 February, Asda). This does, however, spruce up to the vibrant cherry and cranberry flavours with an appealing prickle, some ‘cool- harvest’ pear drop acidity and typical shiraz-style spice.
For a more serious rosé, try 2012 Graham Beck The Game Reserve Rosé (£8.99, Morrisons Cellar). This features fresh, herbal cherry fruit, slowly developing secondary raspberry flavours and impressive lime-based acidity. Sticking with the new world, how about New Zealand’s aromatic 2011 Villa Maria Private Bin Rosé (£6.99, down from £9.99 until 19 February, Tesco) with its rich currant flavours that somehow still stay delightfully light and fresh?
Returning to Europe, there is considerable substance and colour to the tempranillo-dominated 2011 Marques de Caceres Rioja Rosado (£7.99, Majestic). It brings a whisper of minerality to the party to sit comfortably behind its fresh and lively flavours of soft fruit.
Do not, however, overlook the spiritual home of quality rosé – southern France. 2012 Domaine de Pellehaut Harmonie de Gascogne Rose (£6.95, From Vineyards Direct) embodies the intense, flowery, strawberry and cream flavours so typical of the region but still offers those touches of all-spice that newer rosé drinkers seem to prize.
Of course, Valentine’s Day wouldn’t be right without the bubbles that add romance. At the cheaper end of the market, San Leo Nerello Mascalese Rosato (£6.66, down from £9.99 until Thursday, Waitrose) is a fun fizz with fresh and slightly perfumed flavours of strawberry and cherry that develop touches of sweetness on the finish.
For serious romantics heading straight for pink champagne. try the crisp-edged but soft raspberry fruit and brioche hints of Oeil de Perdrix Rosé Champagne (£15, Majestic).
If bubbles are more important than colour, seek out the herbal, apple and sherbet flavours of the limited edition Codorniu Vintage Cava Brut 2010 (£6.99, down from £10.49 until 19 February, Tesco). Equally, Asda’s Louvel Fontaine Champagne Brut (£12, down from £23.98) is uncomplicated entry-point fizz with lemon-centred acidity and clean, rounded supporting flavours.
Nevertheless, despite those presentable non-pink bottles, Thursday – of all days – is surely the occasion for soft lights, sweet music and a life centred on a veritable bed of rosés.
2011 Golden Valley Grasevina Kutjevo, Croatia, 13 per cent In central Europe, the grasevina is a widely grown variety but it is less well known here. This version, however, has attractive green apple flavours, clean and fresh acidity and just a little prickle to spice things up. £8.99, M&S
2009 Beaujolais Villages Georges Duboeuf France, 13 per cent With a great vintage, a respected grower and a good price, this is surely the time to rediscover the racy acidity, black cherry and raspberry fruit of an old friend from way back. £5.99 (down from £8.99 until Tuesday), Waitrose