Which reds, whites and rosé are the ideal wines for summer?

With the long, hot summer days rolling by, it’s always nice to find new wines to enjoy while dining al fresco. Summer favourites tend to be whites and rosés, but don’t omit red wines entirely, as there are plenty to choose from.

If you’re throwing a summer party, get plenty of rosé in, as that is what people generally expect. Think of it as the crowd-pleasing choice, particularly now there are lots of lighter, drier, classier versions to enjoy. Rosé is not longer synonymous with overly sweet wine, and the perfect bottle is delicious served chilled with dinner party food. Try something like Estandon Lumière Rosé, which is a very classic, pale rosé from Provence, which provides a crisp, refreshing bottle for long summer evening.

White wines for summer

It’s always a good idea to include a couple of different white wines for a summer dinner party. The best choices for hot weather are those that are young, fresh and fruity with a crisper edge. If you are sticking to tried and tested, then you’ll be looking for a sauvignon blanc, perhaps from New Zealand.

 

But if you’d rather choose something that is guaranteed to please your guests, but is also a little different, then choose a vinho verde from Portugal, or a picpoul. Both of these are sure to hit the spot. For example, Portal do Minho Vinho Verde is the ideal easy drinker, packed with crisp, fresh notes with a fruity edge. If you’re serving up a feast packed full of Italian cuisine, then you could go for a safe match, such as the Nosiolo Trentino from Mastri Vernacoli Cavit.

Red wines for summer


Many people avoid red wines altogether when it comes to summer drinking, but it’s always worth including them for balance. It can be more difficult to choose something that will suit your guests, particularly as some people always want to stick with a heavy, oaky red, even in the heat. However, even the most ardent rich red wine drinkers will find it hard going throughout an afternoon or evening party in the hotter months, particularly if they’re served at outside temperatures.

Try ditching oak-aged red wines completely and switch to a juicier, lighter, more exciting red. There are lots of pinots from Spain, Portugal and France to try, and although they’re a bit more expensive, they’re worth it. Try a high-quality Beaujolais for a real taste of summer in a glass.

Which rosé wines are perfect for summer according to experts?

Most wine-lovers go through phases with rosé wines. There are at least a few youthful years spent drinking sickly sweet versions before tastes mature and you find yourself looking for something a bit more special.

Rosé wine is having somewhat of a renaissance at the moment, with plenty of new versions hitting the shelves. This time around popular rosé wines are paler, dryer and from regions like Provence. Whether you’re a big fan of all rosé wines, or you’re looking for something ideal for the hotter weather, here’s what some experts and wine lovers think.

 

Higher quality rosé wines

 

The quality seen in many rosé wines today is much higher than the cheap plonk of old, which is boosting its popularity even more. Winemakers are moving away from the very sweet, commercial style rosé wines, towards higher quality, dry wines.

Janet Harrison, founder of a wine tasting company, says that she loves rosé wine thanks to its versatility. She told Huffington Post that she likes the fact that rosé can be enjoyed on its own or with cubes of ice, and that it goes with all kinds of foods. She says: “It is a particularly good match with aromatic and Asian cuisine – which is really popular in the UK.”

 

Less alcohol, more flavour

Most rosé wines tend to be lower in alcohol, which matches the current trend for lower alcohol drinks. And there has also been plenty of celeb endorsement recently. Ex-footballer and husband of Posh Spice David Beckham has been shouting about Whispering Angel, a rosé that goes for about £60 in restaurants.

When selecting a rosé, it’s worth hunting out the perfect balance between sweet fruit and acidity. This is what sets the newer style, more sophisticated rosé wine apart from the older style sweet versions.

Luckily, there are enough rosé wines out there to suit every palate. If you prefer a light white, then choose a delicately pink rosé. These are generally called ‘Provence-style’ rosé wines and are light and fragrant. Darker pinks are ideal for people who love deep, juicy red wines, but it’s a good idea to avoid blushes if you want to avoid too much sweetness.

If you want to try a typical ‘Provence-style’ rosé wine, choose something like Chateau La Mascaronne Quat’ Saisons Cotes de Provence. It is packed with floral and fruit flavours, with a long, dry finish. It’s an organic wine from the 2018 vintage, made by chateau owner Tom Bove. Perfect for long, hot summer days.

Why Albarino could be your favourite summer wine

If you’re fed up with Chardonnay and want to try something different now the hot weather is finally here, why not go for an Albarino wine? It’s the ideal summer wine, thanks to its freshness and elegance.

 

While wines using the Albarino grape have been made for decades, mostly in Spain, it’s not hugely commercially known. Mainly grown in north western Spain in the Rias Baixas region, Albarino grapes are also cultivated in Portugal. A few decades ago tourists travelling to Portugal would probably have been offered Vinho Verde, which is a local favourite made from the Albarino grape.

 

Is Albarino the ideal summer wine grape?

 

Albarino remains of the most distinctive grapes used for white win in Spain. In Portugal it is called Alvarinho and Cainho Branco. It used to be generally mixed with local grapes, such as Arinto, Caino or Godello, which resulted in blended wines. Since approximately 1985, however, the full potential of the grape itself has been understood and there are plenty of single variety bottles to try.

 

The grape has a thick skin, perfect for surviving the damp climate where it is commonly grown. It results in a grape that is high in glycerol, small and very sweet. Good quality wines dominated by this grape taste of peaches, almonds and apricots and are very aromatic and perfumed.

 

As the wines age very well, lots of Albarino growers are experimenting with making wines using oak maturing techniques. The best Albarino still come from the Rias Baizas DOC of Galacia in central Spain, but it’s also made in certain wine regions in California.

 

Peachy, fresh and acidic flavours

 

Due to its peachy flavours and refreshing acidity, Albarino wines are particularly enjoyable when it’s hot. They go well with shellfish and other seafood, but can be served with anything/

 

Albarino is most enjoyable when it’s made as a dry white, due to the grape’s propensity to convert sugar to alcohol easily and quickly. Best served chilled, enjoy a bottle with a picnic or dinner al fresco this summer. Try something like La Marimorena Albarino, Casa Rojo, which is a Spanish wine with florally notes. There are distinctive hits of pears, peaches and apples with a clean and very refreshing finish. Perfect with a lobster salad or prawn dish.

 

Another good choice is also Spanish. From the Riax Baixas region, Exquisite Ablarino is full of zest and peachy flavours. Expect citrus fruit and a herby aroma with a lovely crisp finish on the palate.

Matching wines with Japanese food

Japanese food is all about the balance of flavours. It’s delicate, sweet, salty and delicious, all at once. And although sake is a great accompaniment, pairing your favourite wines with it can turn a good meal into a great one.

Every year, millions of people from all around the world visit Japan to enjoy its fascinating cities, beautiful landscape and, of course, to sample their famous food. Compared with food from further south in Asia, Japanese food is actually easier to pair with wine. You just need to understand the balance of flavours in both your dish and the wine.

 

Wine matching for Japanese food

One of the reasons why Japanese food is so delicious is the so-called fifth flavour – umami. It’s a strong, very savoury flavour that will always make you think of Japanese food.

It’s quite difficult to describe the taste as it isn’t directly one of the four flavours: salty, sour, bitter or sweet. Umami translates as delicious (umai) and essence (mi). Many Japanese dishes are driven by this flavour sensation, thanks to the seasonings that include miso, soy sauce and yuzu pepper.

Dishes like miso soup, katsuobushi (dried, fermented and smoked tuna), and accompaniments such as wasabi and soy sauce are great examples of umami rich foods. Enjoy them with a minerally Riesling or a tart and fresh Soave Classico – these are the wines that pick out and enhance the underlying flavour.

 

Wine matching for sashimi and sushi

Probably the first dishes most people think of when think about Japanese food are sashimi and sushi. Sashimi is specifically raw fish, sliced into very thin fillets. It’s served when it’s as fresh as possible along with shoyu (soy sauce) and wasabi. Sushi are the rolls of seasoned, vinegary rice wrapped with seaweed (nori). They are packed with savoury and salty fillings, which range from crab meat (kani), sea-urchin (uni), raw fish, freshwater eel (unagi) and egg omelette (tamago).

As they are both similar flavour-wise, these dishes can be matched with the same wines. Two good choices are the dry Alsace Riesling and Gruner Veltliner. They can really pull out the flavour of the fish itself and the seasonings that include pickled ginger and wasabi. Riesling also goes well with tuna sushi, known as maguro.

Another good choice to go with sushi and sashimi is Pinot Blanc, as it cuts through the flavours and complements the sweetness of the raw fish. If you prefer something less dry, then go with a creamy Chardonnay, preferably oaked to bring out the flavours.

 

Which wines go with tempura?

Tempura is also a very popular Japanese dish in the UK, thanks to its crispy, tasty flavour profile. It goes really well with lots of different wines, ranging from Chablis to Sauvignon Blanc and Champagne to Gruner Veltliner. Or you can try a light Rose to go with a big plate of mixed tempura for a delicious match.

For deep fried prawn (ebi), then a Chablis or Sancerre works best. For eel (anago), squid (ika) or scallops, you could try a drier Riesling or Chenin Blanc. Veggie tempura goes really well with a dry Muscat.

The next time you’re ordering in some Japanese food, or heading to a restaurant, leave the sake on the side and go for one of your favourite cellar wines instead.

English wine ramps up the innovation

Most wine-lovers include New Zealand somewhere in their favourite bottles. The popularity of New Zealand wines has always been impressive in the UK, which is surprising when you consider how little they actually make.

New Zealand makes less than 0.5% of the total wine production in the world, but its high quality and accessible flavours make it an enjoyable choice. The UK is one of New Zealand’s most important and valuable export markets in the world. Let’s take a look at why New Zealand wines are enjoyed by so many people, and exactly what they produce.

 

New Zealand wine soil is fertile and productive

Fertile soils abound in New Zealand, and these combined with its temperate climate make it an ideal location for wine making. It’s famous around the world for producing delicious whites and reds and have plenty of varieties to choose from.

Almost 60% of New Zealand’s wines are from the Sauvignon Blanc grape. The Marlborough region makes most Sauvignon blends and has done since the first grapes were planted in 1973. By 1990 New Zealand became well known for its Sauvignon Blancs both locally and internationally.

The 1990s also saw a boost for Chardonnay from New Zealand, although it’s never been as popular. Hawke’s Bay and Gisborne specialise in full and medium bodied Chardonnays due to their location in the warmer North Island. In the same decade Pinot Gris gained popularity. It’s produced throughout the country and makes up around 7% of New Zealand’s wine production.

 

Rich red wines from New Zealand

The colder regions in New Zealand make a lot of Pinot Noir, which makes up 8% of the country’s overall wine production. The South Island is known for many red wines, including the fuller bodied and freshly aromatic flavours of Marlborough’s Pinot Noir.

Red wines from Waipara Valley are enjoyed for their more savoury flavours, and the Central Otago region produces soft and fruity reds. Cabernet Sauvignon wines are also well renowned in New Zealand and go back to the early 1800s. Around 80% of the Pinot Noir production takes place in Auckland/Northland and Hawke’s Bay.

 

Other grape varieties popular in New Zealand

Mass production of Riesling began in the 1980s, despite the grape being introduced in the 19th century. Around 90% of the country’s Riesling is made in the South Island and is centred on the Waipara/Canterbury region.

Shiraz on the other hand has always struggled to gain a hold in New Zealand, despite its popularity in Australia. It makes up just 1% of the country’s winemaking production.

Due to New Zealand’s wine reputation, there are lots of wine trails, vineyards and wineries in New Zealand that have become extremely popular tourist attractions.