For most, summer wine is merely a quaffable drink that won’t distract you from your burger. Therefore I have undergone a personal crusade – to bring summer wine back to centre stage.
The following wines prove (I hope) that just because lighter wines are now on the menu, this does not mean that you have to compromise on quality or flavour.
There’s no greater feeling than having a glass or two with friends on a relaxed summer evening. To make it perfect I suggest Summer Wine by Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood as the music pairing for all these wines.
I think this wine’s a bit like a catwalk model; like a neutral canvas, yet its incredible ability to match with food make it extremely punchy – and the glint of toasted almonds get to one like the most chiselled of cheekbones!
What: A very characterful Italian white grape from Central Italy that is a tasty alternative for Pinot Grigio lovers.
Taste: Smells of spiced citrus and tangerine, with aromas of old-fashioned pear drops. The Verdicchio is as crisp on the tongue as it is on the nose, with a good balance between acidity and substance of riper fruit flavours. It has a creamy texture underlined by toasted almonds.
Food pairing: Its crisp acidity pairs perfectly with grilled fish or seafood dishes, but its dry nuttiness can also complement antipasti and salad options.
What to ask for in the wine shop: Italian white, dry, light bodied, good acidity, citrus and stone fruit on the palate, creamy texture, nutty notes.
This is a really sexy wine – what could be more seductive then the scent of white peaches combined with a cheeky acidity? A true femme fatale!
What: An awesome aromatic Greek wine from the Southern peninsula of mainland Greece. Leave your prejudices of ouzo aside – this is an elegant, versatile white at amazing value.
Taste: Intoxicating aroma of fresh white peaches and lemon barley water, which continue to entice on the palate. Because the grapes are grown close to the sea, this wine has a lively acidity that allows for concentrated fruit and perfume combined with light-bodied finesse.
Food pairing: A classic pairing would be goat’s cheese, seafood, roasted peppers and fish. It would also be great with Middle Eastern dishes and Greek mezze if you felt like being creative – I just raid the supermarket deli section!
What to ask for in the wine shop: Greek white wine, dry, aromatic, citrusy with a zesty tang!
This wine might be much lighter bodied and lower in alcohol than most Rhone reds, but every inch is packed with bright red fruits and incredible gaminess. Like a male ballet dancer, it has rippling muscles contained in the most elegant of bodies.
What: Fantastic value and quality French wine. Francois Villard has created one of the finest expressions of understated Syrah I have ever tasted. This is a satisfying Rhone red and is only 12% alcohol.
Taste: Ripe dark fruit on the nose combined with a savoury gaminess due to its age. On the palate it is a charcuterie board in a glass with the finesse of freshly picked berries, cracked pepper and a soft, luscious feel.
Food pairing: Charcuterie boards and grilled meats are best, but its earthy elements would be awesome with grilled aubergine and mushrooms.
What to ask for in the wine shop: Northern Rhone Syrah, fruity, perfumed, peppery and lower in alcohol than a southern Rhone red. This style is more Crozes Hermitages and St Joseph in style – for something more robust look for Northern Rhone wines from Cornas and Hermitage.
This is the wine version of the soulful surfer – this intense Californian specimen is a brooding, bicep-clad individual at first sip, but these old vine berries produce intense wines that are deeper than the average Californian Zin. It’s truly gnarly!
What: A voluptuously concentrated wine made from 35- to 80-year-old vines. Lodi is a fab high altitude region in California that offers great value and quality.
Taste: Aromas of cocoa and dark berries are followed by caressing dark plums, blackberries, black cherries warmly spiced with cinnamon, vanilla, and a milk chocolate-like silkiness.
Food pairing: The rich ripeness of zinfandel stands up to a range of dishes from smoky bacon hamburgers, juicy ribs and barbecue chicken to edgier flavours like soy, chilli and sweet and sour sauce, where it will temper the heat – so get experimenting on that barbecue!
What to ask for in the wine shop: Californian red zinfandel, medium to full bodied, ripe dark fruit flavours with toasty warm spices of cinnamon and vanilla, old vine concentration.