“Can we have a tasting of wines for summer drinking?” a client asked me recently. Of course! It gave me the chance to concentrate on refreshing, easy-drinking bottles – perfect for that picnic or barbie – or just for drinking chilled on their own in the garden. And, because wines like these focus more on enjoyment than on deep appreciation of their finer points, they’re not usually that expensive; in fact, I bought all the wines in Majestic and none cost more than £8 (based on their offers for mixed cases of at least 6 bottles).
We started with a Vinho Verde from northern Portugal: Quinta de Azevedo (£6.99) is a delightfully crisp and fresh white made from a blend of little-known local grapes. To follow, something more floral and fragrant: Mayu’s dry Pedro Ximenez (PX) from Chile (same price). This wine surprised me when I first tasted it as PX is more commonly found in Spain’s sherry region, where it’s mainly used for sweetening, yet, here, it shows a completely different (and most attractive) side to its character.
I can drink rosé at any time of year but there’s no denying that sales peak in the summer and so it was an obvious choice for this tasting. I took along a couple: The Ned Pinot Rosé from New Zealand (£7.99) is an old favourite of mine – full of lovely summer berry fruit flavours – while Cune’s Rioja Rosado (a bargain at just £5.99) is simply a lighter, more delicate version of a young red from the region.
In warm weather, you’re usually looking for something you can serve cool and, of course, you can’t chill red wine – or can you? I wouldn’t suggest putting your best claret in the fridge (but that’s hardly a wine for a summer picnic, anyway), but lighter reds such as Beaujolais or Valpolicella are actually better for a half hour chilling. The same applies to Allegrini’s Tenuta di Naiano Bardolino (£7.49), from the next door region to Valpolicella, with its tangy flavours of bitter cherries.
And, finally, to barbecues. An Australian Shiraz would be the choice of many – and I wouldn’t argue, but why not try a French example of the same grape? Domaine les Yeuses ‘Les Épices’ Syrah (£7.99) is my choice – similar spicy, peppery flavours and lovely violet aromas.
So there we have it – my selection of wines for summer. The group I ran the tasting for enjoyed them all, although the Vinho Verde just edged it in the final vote. Try them – I hope you like them, too.