High Summer Drinking

Want some inspiration as to what you might be sipping in your deck chair this summer?

Let’s start with a cheeky cocktail…I know it’s little “off piste” for a wine column but it’ll get you in the mood for some delicious wines later in the day.

When the temperature rises we reach for the Campari bottle. This bittersweet Italian is probably the marmite of the aperitif world…you’re just as likely to hate it as love it. I remember vividly stealing a sip of my mother’s Campari soda when on a Spanish holiday aged about 10, and trying hard not to gag. Now we can’t have enough of it. Two recipes: first, a long version, the Venetian “spritz”: in a jug mix one third Camapari with two thirds Prosecco or other sparkling wine, stir with ice and top up with some Perrier water. Serve in tall glasses and do as the Venetians do – drink lots of it! The second is more of a sipping cocktail, the classic Negroni: in a whisky tumbler mix equal parts of Campari, red Martini and Gin with some large ice cubes. Stir and feel the glow…you will only need one.

And the wines to follow? Rosé is the default choice for a really sunny afternoon; avoid anything too sweet (California, Anjou, and many New World examples). My personal favourite is our near neighbour here in the Rhone, Domaine Mourchon’s ‘La Loubié’, salmon pink, mid weight, aromas of crushed strawberry and refreshing acidity. Available by the glass at Balls Brothers wine bars in London and by the case from the Big Red Wine Company in the UK, £9.95 per bottle.

If, like me, you are constantly looking out for interesting whites that aren’t Chardonnay-based, here’s three that you should try. The first, a dry Muscat. Both the colour and the aroma of a dry Muscat can wrong-foot the unaware. Golden and with heavy scents of table grapes, most people assume they are about to taste a dessert wine, but in spite of its rich grapy flavour it is bone dry. My favourite local version is from Domaine des Bernardins at Beaumes de Venise but it is made in too small a quantity to export. Try the Aussie version, also excellent, such as Brown Brothers Dry Muscat, £6.49 at Sainsbury’s. Two other unusual whites for garden drinking this summer: the delicate, peachy Albarino from the relatively cool/wet north western Spanish wine region of Rais Baixas – Majestic sell a fine example from top producer Martin Codax at £9.95. Finally, from the south of Italy the blossom flower scented, mineral, herbal Falanghina from the vineyards around Naples. The version on sale this summer at Waitrose at a bargain £7.59 is well worth seeking out. Happy deck chair drinking!

If you are interested in one of our Provence based wine holidays please visit http://www.rhonewineholidays.com, or if you just want a fabulous place to stay as you drive through France we now do bed and breakfast – see www.bighouseinprovence.com

Philip Reddaway

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