Category Archives: Wines for summer

Wines for Summer


“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).

Summer WinesWe 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.



A Summer of Rosés


How attitudes to rosé wines have changed! Just a few years ago, they were either despised or ridiculed. No longer! To borrow a fashion term – and, after all, a lot of choices in wine are down to fashion – rosé is the ‘new black’!   A good rosé should be fruity, refreshing and a delight to drink, either on its own or with simple food and, especially at this time of year (assuming the rain will stop and we will get some summer in the UK).

So, where should you start in choosing rosé? The big brand White Zinfandels and blush wines that are on every supermarket shelf are very popular but they’re not my taste – I find them too sweet to make a good aperitif or accompaniment to a starter or main course, yet not sweet enough to cope with a pudding. I prefer something crisp and dry. There are lots around: from France, look to Tavel or Provence, or, for something really unusual, to Corsica (try Clos Culombu, available from the Wine Society, £11.50).

Corsican Rose

The reputation of Spanish rosés hasn’t always been great – and that’s being polite! But there’s been a massive transformation in recent times and bottles from Catalonia, Navarre or Rioja (yes, they do make rosé there as well as red – and white) are much fresher now. Waitrose and Majestic both have Muga’s Rioja Rosado at around a tenner – a good one to sample.

And then there’s the New World: take New Zealand, for example; many would agree that some of their Pinot Noir reds are world-class but the rosés from the same grape are pretty tasty, too. I put The Ned Pinot Rosé (Majestic, £8.99 if you buy it as part of a mixed case of 6) on a tasting recently and it showed really well to a group who were, initially, quite sceptical. But I think I convinced them (most of them, anyway) and if you, too, are a little doubtful, hopefully I’ve convinced you to give rosé a try as well.

There really is nothing better when the sun’s shining.