WE’RE VERY fond of gadgets in our house. For several months we had a plastic electronic rabbit – behave – which sat on the sideboard and wiggled its ears when anyone sent us an email.
He was also tuned in to the news headlines and recited them. He had to go. It was electronic bunny overkill and very distracting when Horrible Histories was on.
Now the new gadget in our household is wine-themed ... we have an ice bucket jacket which fits over Champagne bottles and is designed in pastel shades of pink and lilac in a diamond-shaped, Venetian masked ball, pattern.
I’ve never had to unzip a wine before opening – until now.
Champagne Jacquart, BrutMosaïque Rosé NV (£29.50, reduced from £34.50 at www.greatwesternwine.co.uk ) wears the cooler for Valentine’s Day.
It seems jackets are a trend that one or two other Champagne houses are following – I ran a Google search and found Veuve Clicquot Rose NV Champagne is also available in a Valentine’s themed bird song ice jacket (£46.94, www.drinksdirect.co.uk).
Last summer Lanson was selling Champers in a Union Jack cooler, clearly wanting a stake in the Jubilee and Olympics chink-chink celebrations. Yes, the jackets are practical – they keep the champers chilled for at least two hours. (I know – I tested it).
Also, should you have a mind to, you could recycle the coolers and hide cheaper sparklies under the classier branding of the Champagne houses. Your guests may never know.
But part of me thinks why?
Champagne bottles in a jacket? Keep them on ice or in the fridge. And how do you know how much is left in the bottle if you can’t see it?
This created a sulky glass-to-glass redistribution of Champagne in our household.
I know it’s a marketing ploy – and it could be driven by the fact that in the UK sales of prosecco and English sparkling are on the up. A report by the organisation Wine Intelligence says that around five million more bottles of prosecco are being sold in the UK than five years ago. So Champagne definitely has hot – or even chilled – competition on its hands.
Back to the Jacquart. It’s too late to buy this for your Valentine to arrive today (you have bought something haven’t you?) but if you do, then you can expect a salmon pink Champagne with consistent, playful, bubbles. It has dried strawberries on the nose and to taste more strawberries – even peaches – and zingy acidity. I would have preferred more fruit, but even so, this champers won seven awards in 2012, including silvers at the International Wine and Spirit competition and the Sommeliers Wine Awards.
If you have forgotten your Valentine, there’s time to sneak out and buy:
Asda Filipo Sansovino Prosecco (£5, from £8.48) which has tinklingly typical fresh pears both on the nose and to taste from the Italian grape glera – or Asda Extra Special Chenin Blanc (£5) which has a citrusy flavour and hints of lime peel. It should be good with Chinese food. Both offers stand until February 20.
Charles de Cazanove Brut Champagne NV is on offer at the Co-op until February 19 reduced from £31.99 to £15.99.
This is a tête de cuvée Champagne, which means it has been made from the first pressing of the grapes – in this case from 42 different “cru” vineyards. It has brioche and vanilla pods on the nose and to taste is pleasantly refreshing with crisp red apples and squeezy-fresh lemon.