The weather may or may not be playing ball (writing this a week before you read it, you might be reading this in scorching heat or under gloomy skies, who knows), but Wimbledon has started, strawberries and cream are on the menu – it must be Summer. Time to crack open a bottle of…what? This week I’m concentrating on pink wines, which epitomise summer. Next time, I’ll be sniffing out some choice red and white wines to see you though the barbecue season.
Rosé wines are on a seemingly unstoppable rise in this country. Five years ago you’d have been laughed at if you ordered a glass of rosé in the bar, now you can’t move for bottles of the pink stuff in the supermarket aisles. Even before they became fashionable, rosé wines were always a great summer drink. Here’s why: they offer more fruity flavour than white wines, without the tannin of red wines, but you serve them chilled, so they have instant refreshment. Rosés are also the best wines for standing up to salads or any dish with a dressing. The extra fruit (and sometimes a little lick of residual sugar) combine well with the vinegar or lemon of the dressing, but the fresh acidity cuts through the oil.
Here are some of my favourite rosés to see you through the summer that I’ve tasted recently. And beware: last summer, you might remember, was a bit of a washout. As a result, many wine merchants and restaurants/bars ordered more than they needed and have been left with a glut of rosés that they couldn’t shift. The trouble is that, with very few exceptions, rosés should be drunk as young as possible. As they age, they tend to lose their bright, vibrant fruit and can taste dull and flat. That means you should be looking for 2007 vintages of rosé to buy this summer - especially from the Southern hemisphere, where they’re harvesting six months ahead of Europe. If you see 2006 rosés, my advice would be to steer clear, unless they’re on such a good offer you don’t mind if they don’t come up to scratch.
Tierra Brisa Malbec Rosé 2007, Argentina, £4.29, down to £3.79 when you buy 2, at Majestic. Tried a rosé made from Malbec before? Well here’s your chance. Not the most sophisticated of wines, but has well-defined fruit and a little toastiness on the finish.
Eva’s Vineyard Rosé 2007, Hungary, £4.29, Waitrose. A blend of Pinot Noir and the local Kékfrankos grape, this has good freshness to its attractive fruit.
Champteloup Selection Rosé d’Anjou 2007, £4.99, Waitrose. If we’re rehabilitating rosé, then we may as well go the whole hog and relive the 80s with an off-dry Rosé d’Anjou. This is nicely balanced and the sweetness would probably match well with sweet Thai-style nibbles.
Tagus Creek Shiraz/Touriga Nacional Rosé 2007, Portugal, £5.19, Waitrose. This is very deep coloured and is really a red wine for people who don’t like red wine. Plenty of soft, spicy red fruits.
Casillero del Diablo Shiraz Rosé 2007, Chile, £5.99, Sainsbury’s. Consistently reliable performer that offers relatively weighty fruit with plenty of crunch to it.
Domaine Bégude Pinot Noir Rosé 2007, France, £7.49 or £6.99 if you buy 2, Majestic. Pinot Noir tends to make lighter, drier and more savoury styles of rosé and this is a very correct example. One for food.
Muga Rosado 2007, Rioja, £7.19, Waitrose. Pale salmon colour, this is delicate, lively and fresh. One to savour.
Clos d’Yvigne “Bel-Ami” Rosé 2007, France, £7.99, or £7.49 if you buy 2, at Majestic. Made by an Englishwoman in the unfashionable area of Bergerac, next door to Bordeaux. This is 100% Merlot, making for an attractive, easy-going but grown up wine.
Château d’Aquéria 2007, France, £9.99, down to £9.49 if you buy 2, Majestic. From the specialist rosé-producing area of Tavel in the southern Rhône Valley, this is densely flavoured with a long spicy finish. Serve it with gutsy food to taste it at its best.
Next time: white wines that make refreshing summer drinking and red wines that you can chill on a hot day, or that can warm the cockles as you huddle round the barbecue for warmth.