Summertime and the weather is, well, rather changeable actually. As is the ideal summer-friendly wine choice because when it comes to picking the right wine, it really depends on the occasion. Whether going to a barbecue with mates or sipping a decompression glass in the garden after work, there’s a perfect bottle out there. You just need to know where to find it. Here’s my pick of the current bunch.
THE ONE TO DRINK IN THE GARDEN: Masseria Pietrosa Verdeca 2016
There’s a time and a place for a cold glass of Pinot Grigio but Italy’s got over 350 different grape varieties and life is simply too short to drink just one of them. This one, Verdeca, is found in the Puglia region, in southern Italy. Blended here with the tiniest dash of Sauvignon Blanc and another Italian grape, Malvasia, it’s fresh and floral and completely gorgeous.
THE ONE TO TAKE TO A BARBECUE AT A FRIEND’S HOUSE
Now that everyone seems to have raised their barbecued food game, we can’t get away with taking any old £5 chugger and expect it to do the food any favours. We need something smooth, juicy and with enough tannin to work with chargrilled meat or vegetables. This ripe Cabernet Sauvignon from South Australia’s Coonawarra region is just the thing. So good it can even make a burnt sausage taste better.
THE ONE TO DRINK ON FRIDAY AFTER WORK
The Prosecco bubble shows no sign of bursting with sales going through the roof but I’ll take a glass of this alternative Italian sparkler over Prosecco every time. Made from the perkily named Pignoletto grape, it’s generally drier than Prosecco but with similar citrus and pear flavours. Pass the Pigs.
THE ONE TO GIVE AS AN END OF TERM PRESENT
Maybe you’re lucky enough to have one of those parents in your kids’ class who’s organized enough to co-ordinate a joint present so all you have to do is hand them a contribution (god, I love those parents). But if you don’t, and you’ve left it to the last minute, go for wine. It never, ever disappoints and you get top marks. This is a properly good soft summery red from Chile with just-squashed, smoky red fruit flavours.
THE ONE TO MAKE A BAD DAY GOOD
This calls for rosé. Perfectly chilled better-than-your-average rosé, to be precise. This is the first release of Mirabeau Etoile, a single estate wine from Cotes de Provence, made from Grenache and Syrah grapes. Miraval (the ex-Brangelina one) is made nearby but this is just as good – and cheaper.
THE ONE TO MAKE EVERYONE THINK YOU’VE SPENT MORE THAN YOU ACTUALLY HAVE
There are a number of wines in Aldi’s range that successfully pull off the "looks and tastes more expensive than it is" trick. But this one’s a particular favourite and such a summery wine. From Sicily, it’s made mainly the Grillo grape with a splash of Sauvignon, all ripe waxy lemon peel with a whiff of honeysuckle about it. Lovely with big herby salads, roasted vegetables or grilled fish or chicken, though a bowl of salty snacks will do nicely.
Helen’s latest book, Teetotal Tipples, is out now (£9.99, Robinson).