Some expert advice compiled by Lydia Harrison DipWSET of the Wine & Spirit Education Trust
Prosecco’s popularity is continuing its surge and it’s easy to understand why, flavours of pears, blossom and peach make it the perfect summer tipple. For the better examples look for the letters DOCG on the label rather than DOC, which should give you even more flavour. If you prefer more Champagne style wines try Italy’s lesser known sparkling’s from Trento DOC that have toasty, yeasty characters and are richer in style.
While perfect on its own, Prosecco is also a great picnic partner where the lively fruit flavours and fresh acidity will work with a variety of ingredients so you can enjoy a range of nibbles from sandwiches to dips with the wine cleansing your palate in-between.
Perfectly chilled whites are a summer essential with citrus and green fruit flavours to refresh the palate on those hot and hopefully sunny days. Pinot Grigio lovers should try Picpoul de Pinet, a region in Southern France that makes deliciously light, clean, citrus filled white wines that are effortlessly enjoyable.
These clean whites are great as an aperitif or to accompany simple fish dishes. Delicate flavours such as prawns or cod fillet with a lemon dressing will complement the zesty acidity of the Picpoul.
Alternatively, for a white wine with more flavour but that isn’t too heavy, try the Muscat grape. It produces aromatic wines that smell of summer flowers, fleshy green grapes and peaches, a perfect summertime beverage. Traditionally produced in Alsace, France, but you can find it under the name Moscatel in Spain, or coming from as far as Chile. All with the same distinct floral character.
As this white packs more of a punch it would work beautifully with a vibrant summer salad full of flavours such as rocket, squash, pomegranate and goats cheese.
Pink wine with its flavours of summer berries has always been a seasonal favourite and there are a multitude of styles available. The Southern Rhone in France has always produced some brilliant rosés, dry in style with more flavour than other areas. Rich strawberry and red cherry fruits with a bit more body, they can be enjoyed by themselves or a perfect with bbqs and salad so are suitable for all occasions. Look out for the regions of Tavel and Lirac on the label.
Full flavoured rosés are extremely versatile, perfect for quaffing alone or with harder to pair dishes like those with some spice. Think sweet chilli or Cajun chicken or steaks with peppercorn sauce. The strong berry flavours can stand up to the dish while the lack of tannins avoids any clash with the spice.
Lighter red wines are perfect for summer drinking, where softer tannins and refreshing acidity are called for. Well-known examples are Beaujolais or Valpolicella that can be even served slightly chilled if desired to accentuate their fresh red fruit flavours. For something similar but less well known, seek out a Bierzo. This region in North West Spain produces red wines from the Mencia grape. They have lively acidity, red plum and herbal flavours with softer tannins and alcohols than other, hotter, regions of Spain and sometimes a touch of oak spice. Perfect for those balmy evenings.
Red is the perfect match for barbecue meats, or more strongly flavoured dishes. Salt in the seasoning or marinade will soften the impact of the drying tannins in red wine, while the high acid will cut through the fat in the meat. It will also work with a cheese board to finish.
Ditch the Gin & Tonic and do what they do in Oporto and try a white port and tonic with ice and lime for something a little different but equally as enjoyable.
Compiled by Lydia Harrison DipWSET, of the Wine & Spirit Education Trust, the largest global provider of wines and spirits qualifications for beginners to experts. For more details about WSET, its qualifications and where to study, visit WSETglobal.com