The temperature touched 30˚C (86˚F) in Bristol last week – a reminder that summer is here – something that’s often quite easy to forget in our climate! And, for my wife and me, summer means a different style of eating: salads, yes, but also lighter, fresher dishes that are easier to digest. And, of course, the wines to match.
I’ve often said in this Blog that food and wine should be equal partners with neither dominating the other. So, with lighter dishes, I look for lighter wines. Not necessarily lighter in colour (although whites and rosés do often go better with summer dishes than reds), but lighter in body. Chunkier styles – and that usually means higher alcohol bottles – stay on the shelf in favour of more delicate wines, those with plenty of fruit and good acidity.
Many whites fall into this lighter category – the main exception being those which are strongly oaked – as do almost all rosés; if you’re not usually a rosé fan, try one gently chilled on a warm summer’s day, especially something from a good producer in the south of France – I’d be surprised if you’re not convinced.
Reds can be a bit more of a problem; many are quite high in alcohol these days and, when you add in oak ageing and significant tannins (both features of many of the best reds), they’re not that well-suited to warm weather. But choose carefully – look for something refreshing, a wine that can be chilled lightly without ruining it – and the picture looks very different. Try a Loire red, or one from Germany or Austria, a Valpolicella (avoiding the ultra-cheap examples) or, perhaps most reliable of all, a Beaujolais from one of the 10 named villages or Crus*.
From this last group, we found that Henry Fessy’s Brouilly (Waitrose, £12.99) fitted the bill nicely.
Delicious, clean, refreshing cherry fruit with attractive hints of bitterness, quite light in the mouth (12.5%) and really lively and welcoming after a half hour in the fridge. Just perfect for a warm summer day – but that was last week; what a shame it’s back to sweater weather today!
*(The 10 Beaujolais Crus are: Brouilly, Côtes de Brouilly, Chenas, Chiroubles, Fleurie, Julienas, Morgon, Moulin-à-Vent, Régnié and Saint-Amour).