This Valentine’s Day The Guide’s wine connoisseur JESSICA MANN says there’s no need to blow it on bubbles...

TOMORROW is Valentine’s Day and you (yes, you) have forgotten to book dinner at a trendy Oxfordshire restaurant.

Maybe, you think, she won’t know it’s Valentine’s Day . . . or someone could cancel a reservation they made six months ago at Le Manoir . . . or you can try passing off the buffet at Pizza Hut as the latest thing? Fat Chance . . .

Even if Raymond Blanc himself gave you a private table . . . you are still paying for the Christmas presents you bought her two months ago.

So why not avoid the crowds and commercialized drama and have an intimate dinner for two? Cook her favourite meal.

If you don’t know the difference between a spatula and potato masher, go to the store and get a baguette, some cheese, and fruit.

Go home, light some candles, and have an indoor picnic, but don’t forget the bubbly.

If the thought of choosing the right champagne has your knees quivering as you remember the results from the last bottle of cheap fizz you chose and her “headache” the rest of the night and next morning, rest assured, you are not alone.

Most people would rather buy a bottle of white wine and mix it with lemonade than try to decipher the labels of the sparkling. Asti, Brut, Prosecco, Extra-Dry, Demi-Sec, Cava, frizzante . . .it’s all too much and with prices ranging from £3-£250 (and heck, you can’t afford to spend more than £10), what are you going to buy?

Well, try less than a bottle. Lanson has a gorgeous Brut Rose, in a 20cl bottle. It is pale sunset in colour with rose and fruit aromas, and a luscious flavour balanced between acidic fruit and creamy biscuits with a long finish. It’s £9.99 and can be found everywhere.

Alternatively . . . don’t get Champagne, try Cava instead.

Champagne has to come from the Champagne region of France.

All others are just sparkling wine. Cava is the Spanish version and is still made in the Traditional Method of Champagne.

This means that the same care goes into growing the vines and fermenting the product but, most importantly, without the cost.

Marques de Monistrol Vintage 2004 Cava, Rose Brut, is an excellent bargain at £9.99 available at Tesco.

Most supermarkets boast their own brand of sparkling wine that is just as acceptable.

Just make sure it says traditional method on the bottle and you will end up with higher quality fizz with smaller bubbles. It’s rumour that the nitrogen in the bubbles makes some people more susceptible to headaches when drinking sparkling wine. Therefore, wines fermented in the traditional method such as Champagne and Cava have finer bubbles, and thus less nitrogen to cause the aches. If you are worried about the taste of these non-branded sparklings, then do what Craig Moffat, the bar manager at The Randolph Hotel recommends.

He suggests buying a small bottle of grenadine and adding a few drops to her glass. “Make it sweet, make it pink, she’ll love it,” he says.

However, should luck shine on you tonight and your Lottery numbers come up, then splash out on the 1996 KRUG Brut.

Because at £295.00 a bottle, who needs food?