Even a committed wine drinker, like me, turns to other drinks from time to time. When the weather’s cold and the days are short, I like nothing better than a glass of hearty, palate-warming red wine. But when the sun’s shining, I often prefer other things, as even the lightest wine can seem a little heavy. What I’m looking for is refreshment.
My favourite gin: Plymouth Gin (£14.99, all major supermarkets)
Plymouth is my favourite gin, whether as a cocktail base or in a G&T. Try this with plenty of ice, a slice of lime and additive-free Fever Tree tonic, which allows the aromatics and botanicals in the gin to express themselves.
My favourite wheat beer: Hoegaarden (£1.10 per bottle, widely available)
There are a few wheat beers on the market, but only one that’s widely available. I love the thirst-quenching freshness and lightness of touch of this slightly cloudy Belgian beer, with its hints of coriander and orange peel.
My favourite cider: Spall’s Organic Cyder (£1.99, all major supermarkets)
This dry, organic cider is the real deal, made from Medaille d’Or, Cox and Bramley apples in deepest Suffolk. Best consumed over ice, this is a delicious English drink.
My favourite liqueur: St Germain (£11.99 for 75cl, Waitrose)
This is one of my discoveries of the summer, an elderflower liqueur from the French Alps that tastes great on the rocks, or blended with a crisp white wine, soda water or sparkling water. Perilously delicious at 20% alcohol.
My favourite cordial: Pixley Berries Blackcurrant Cordial (£3.19 for 50cl, Waitrose)
Use this cordial to make your own form of rosé wine, blending it with Pinot Grigio or a glass of Prosecco to produce something with a little more sweetness and colour.
Three sparkling wines:
Extra de Codorniu (£5.49 each for two bottles, Majestic)
This sparkling wine should be in every fridge this summer. It’s a youthful, tangy, citrus-tinged fizz with none of the earthiness that so often mars cheap Cava. Great with a dash of fruit juice or cordial.
Marks & Spencer Asti Spumante (£6.99)
The grapey, sherbet-scent of the Muscat grape is one of my favourite summer smells. This light-bodied Italian fizz has small bubbles and enough sweetness to partner strawberries perfectly.
Berry’s Extra Dry Crémant de Limoux, Jean-Louis Denois (£8.75, bbr.com)
This fizz is a brilliant, refreshing southern French blend of Chardonnay with lesser amounts of Mauzac, Chenin Blanc and Pinot Noir.
Two Barbecue Red Wines:
2006 Yalumba Barossa Shiraz/Viognier, Barossa Valley (£8.99, The Co-operative)
The splash of white Viognier adds softness and aroma to this stylish oak-aged Aussie red blend, with its apricot and red fruit flavours.
2007 Taste the Difference Côtes du Rhône Villages (£5.99, Sainsbury’s)
A great example of the 2007 vintage in the southern Rhône Valley, this is a full-throated, spicy, blackberry and liquorice-like red blend – a treat with barbecued lamb chops.
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