AS I write this, the sun is beating down, and it appears to be the ideal time to be writing a piece on wines for summer drinking. My first wish is that you might read this in similar climatic circumstances; there can be few things more depressing than to read about wines to go with your barbecue when the rain is pouring down.
Even in the worst of summers, there are many different parts that wines can play. I can remember when I was asked to introduce the British to a range of French wine, and surprise was expressed at how little rosé wine we drank. In Spain, too, rosé wine was the choice for summer drinking. The situation has changed there, largely as a result of better winemaking, with temperature controlled fermentation in stainless-steel tanks rather than a free-for-all in concrete vats.
One of the great pleasures of life, for me, is to sit outside on a warm summer evening, just watching the sun go down. The two necessities for this are a westward-facing outlook, and a bottle of chilled wine from the Mosel.
I am often asked what is my favourite wine, and my reply is always that it depends on the circumstances. Such a summer evening can be one of those circumstances, and then a Moselle is my wine of choice. Waitrose has two such wines that appeal to me. First, their Waitrose Dry German Riesling 2016 Mosel (12 per cent alcohol) at £7.99, with a distinct flavour of green apples. At just eight per cent is their Dr Loosen Uerziger Würzgarten Riesling Kabinett 2016 (£12.79), a wonderful blend of mineral flavours with spice.
Similarly, one of the great pleasures of summer can be people-watching, sitting outside a café with a chilled bottle of wine. In an ideal world, the setting should be on the Côte d’Azur, and the bottle one of Provence Rosé. While not all of us can make it to the South of France, the wines from there are now more readily available here. Again, Waitrose has the answer: Château du Bern, Côtes de Provence, 2016 (£11.49), which has an appealing fruitiness.
For barbecues, I would suggest either a chilled bottle of red wine or a heartier rosé. I suggest the Australia Burra Brook 2017 (Marks & Spencer, £7); or Santa Julia Malbec rosé (Sainsbury’s, £7). As a red wine to enjoy chilled, try Cuvée des Vignerons non-vintage Beaujolais from Waitrose (£7.65).
If you are planning a picnic, whether for an outing or a picnic at home, Sainsbury’s have two interesting rosé wines: a Fronton Negrette 2016, from the south-west of France (£7); and a Sancerre Caillottes 2016 (£13). Lidl also has a classic Tavel 2016 for just £6.99. If you prefer white wine, I can suggest two Spanish wines: the Abellio Albariño Rías Baixas 2017 (Lidl, £5.99); and the Finca Lallana Verdejo 2017 (The Wine Society, £8.75).
Finally, if you have reason to celebrate, I suggest that you do it this summer with a bottle of English sparkling wine.
There is an old proverb, “A day without wine is a day without sunshine.” I hope all your days this summer are sunny and accompanied by wine.