Wine & Food

    The best summer wines

    27 June 2019

    In Sanlúcar de Barrameda they have a saying, ‘one before 11, and eleven before 1′. It refers to the correct time to have a drink. Nothing takes the edge off the heat of the day more than an ice cold glass of manzanilla. It’s liquid air conditioning. I swear the only way I managed to get through last summer’s heat wave was through the medium of sherry.

    But man cannot live on sherry alone (though I have given it a damn good try.) The other thing I like to drink in the heat is cold red wine. My father doesn’t approve. We had a passive aggressive battle on holiday where I kept putting the red in the fridge and he kept taking it out. Certain wines, though, respond especially well to a good chilling: look out for light Loire reds, English pinot noir, South African cinsault and, of course, Beaujolais. If it’s really hot, don’t be afraid to stick some ice in it (I sometimes add Campari, soda and a slice of orange too).

    My favourite summer wines blur the line between rosé and red wine but sadly good dark rosés of the sort the Spanish used to excel at are proving harder and harder to find as everyone switches to the trendy pale stuff. I overheard a lady at a wine tasting recently turning her nose up at a deliciously fruity rosado claiming it was sweet. It wasn’t in the slightest, it was just a bright, unfashionable shade of cherry.

    The moral of the story is, don’t judge a wine by its colour. Here are 10 wines of all colours, including some whites, to take the edge off the impending heatwave. You know it’s coming.


    Cono Sur Bicicleta Pinot Noir 2018

    Perhaps the best selling pinot noir in the world and amazingly good for the price with its crunchy cranberry fruit and just a whisper of leather. This really is the perfect picnic wine as it’s equally nice cold or when it’s lost its chill, and it has a screw cap,
    Tesco £7.50

    Saumur Les Nivières 2017

    This Loire red made entirely from Cabernet Franc is another reliable friend. Plenty of ripe fruit here, a grassy green pepper edge and then a stoney finish that tastes like a cool cave on a hot day.
    Waitrose £9.49

    Bin #002 Zweigelt 2017

    A limited edition available from 12th July.  You might be surprised just how good Austrian reds are. Zweigelt is the name of the variety and this delicious example combines plump summer pudding fruit, very soft tannins and a refreshing edge.
    The Wine Society £8.95

    Jean Loron Beaujolais 2017

    It’s nice to see the perennially unfashionable Beaujolais wine finally getting the attention it deserves. This is bursting with blueberry and strawberry fruit with a refreshing slatey edge to it. As a bonus, it goes with pretty much any food you care to throw at it.
    Majestic £11.49



    Guigal Cotes-du-Rhone rosé 2017

    If I judged a wine on how quickly the bottle went down, this would be the best rosé in the world. It has the colour of a barely there little number from Provence but on the palate, it’s far more like something beefier from Tavel.
    Mr Wheeler £12.50

    Babylonstoren Mourvèdre Rosé 2018

    Provence-style rosé has now conquered the world and it would be churlish to complain when the wine is this good. This South African number has a bit of heft to it with a sort of strawberries and cream quality. Yes, it’s basically Wimbledon in a glass.
    Novel Wines £14.89


    Vinho Verde Loureiro Ponte de Lima 2018

    Very lightly sparkling, low in alcohol and bursting with zesty lemon and lime flavours, it’s a great party wine but has the intensity to go with some serious seafood. The price is bananas for a wine this good.
    The Wine Society £6.95

    Chateau Ksara Merwah 2017

    Merwah, a grape native to Lebanon, is usually distilled to make arak. This is the first varietal wine bottling but it won’t be the last. It’s really very special stuff: textured, subtle and fresh, with floral and almond notes.
    Corking Wines £13.54


    La Gitana Manzanilla En Rama 2019 release

    En Rama sherry is unfiltered and it’s the nearest you will get to the straight out of the barrel experience you get when you visit a sherry bodega. I loved its full round body, brown apple notes, salty tang and nutty finish. Spectacular stuff.
    The Whiskey Exchange £15.95

    Barbadillo Solear Manzanilla

    Another manzanilla (like a fino but from the seaside town of Sanlucar) but in a much lighter style without the richness of the En Rama above. It’s simple refreshing stuff. Drink it very cold on a summer’s day,  then fall asleep in a deck chair.
    Waitrose £11.19