When the living gets easy, why worry about which wine to choose? Knowing your grapes means you can relax and enjoy the moment. Wine expert Zeren Wilson gives us his hot tips for summer tipples.
Summer drinking delivers a simpler kind of pleasure. When sunshine glints off a chilled glass of Provençal rosé, everything seems alright with the world. Less complex wines with the sole purpose of thirst quenching come into their own.
At the forefront of aromatic white wines are Sancerre and Pouilly Fumé, nettle-scented and gently grassy expressions of the Sauvignon Blanc grape, with the kind of lip-smacking acidity that revs those salivary glands into action. For a more turbo-charged style of Sauvignon Blanc try some of the examples from New Zealand and South Africa, where the aromatics get turned up a notch. Albariño is a grape that loves summer, producing some of the best wines coming out of Spain. Its floral aromas and freshness reflect its home in the Atlantic coastal region of Galicia. Riesling is another grape to hunt down, both the dry or trocken examples from Germany, and the lime-charged wines of Australia’s Clare Valley.
If you prefer a light, crisp white wine, the often maligned name of Muscadet in the Loire Valley is enjoying a renaissance, thanks to greater attention in the vineyards growing the Melon de Bourgogne grape. Fresh, light and eminently gluggable on warm days, and great with fish and shellfish. Pinot Grigio also comes into its own.
Sparkling wine is always welcome on a hot day, when summer gives us an unspoken excuse to kick outdoors until the early hours. Cava and Prosecco both offer excellent value ‘fizz’ without Champagne prices. Prosecco tends to be a little lighter and more rounded, with a ‘pear drop’ character. Cava usually leans towards a drier, more savoury glass of bubbles. The new breed of very impressive English sparkling wines are making their presence felt too. So go on, get your fizz on.
Chilled reds offer an exciting new lens through which to experience red wine – especially for those who are more accustomed to drinking white. Lighter reds lend themselves perfectly to this, so look for the Gamay grape of Beaujolais or a Pinot Noir. Oozing flavours of cherries, strawberries and raspberries, these wines can be every bit as refreshing as whites.
We end where we began, with rosé. And if anyone tells you that rosé tastes just as good indoors in winter as it does outside in the sun… well, they’re dreaming. When the mercury climbs, grab a bottle of Languedoc, Provençal or Spanish rosé and rush outside to bask in the sun – your palate will thank you.
Here’s a selection of three wallet-friendly top summer wines:
Crisp, fresh and complex with slightly saline notes, made with the Melon de Bourgogne grape.
Crammed with dark plum and cherry flavours, this is a lush wine with soft tannins, enhanced by spending 15 minutes in the fridge.
Grown on the slopes of Mount Moncayo in Spain, this is a juicy rosé dripping with luscious strawberry and raspberry flavours.
Zeren Wilson, from Ocadolife