Summer chillaxing presents a whole new opportunity for vinous appreciation. Whether you are out and about in the Big Smoke or stretched out on the back lawn, herewith are my top five all-time favourite summer aperitif wines. Not only are they easily accessible, but they present what I think are far better alternatives to ‘make mine a Savvy B’.
Served with ice
Vermouth is a fortified aperitif in which the base wine has been aromatised by the addition of herbs and botanicals. Although the drink was used historically for medicinal purposes, it was the creation of the Martini cocktail of 007 fame, in which vermouth is mixed with gin, that led to its popularity. The basic vermouth recipe is about 150 years old, and my personal product preference is the Italian brand Cinzano. Simply serve it over ice, but if you want to flash it up a bit, add a dash of bitters and a twist of orange.
A little Italian, a little French
Affordable, easy-going, every-occasion, sparkling, dry Italian Prosecco is enjoying something of a re-emergence into stylish society. To curate a really successful gathering, add to a glass of Prosecco a shot of the French aperitif RinQuinQuin (pronounced ‘ran-can-can’), made by infusing peach fruit and leaves in spirit before blending with white wine. Davey at Ortega makes this party-going, palate-whetting concoction particularly well…
Rosé is anything but a girl’s drink. There are so many exciting styles that are produced from so many exciting grape varieties, that discovering rosé is like discovering wine all over again. Personally, I prefer my pink drink more salmon in colour and bone-dry on the palate. Such a style provides a great accompaniment to little tapas. Steven at Avida is a bit of a rosé fan, and as such you are sure to find a few international styles to taste at the bar as you find out for yourself what kind of man you are meant to be.
Grüner Veltliner is my number one choice of grape varietal for accompanying fresh oysters. Grüner has distinct lentil, peppery and citrus notes that, when combined with the salty brininess of oysters, is like a squeeze of lemon juice and schmackling of pepper sprinkled over that salty wee jewel of the sea. It’s a truly wonderful combination. My bottle pick is always from this grape’s homeland of Austria, and quite bloody nice it is too when enjoyed in the garden bar at Ancestral.
Making a meal of it
Moore Wilson’s is the number one choice for the two ingredients that provide my all-time favourite wine and food match. Rather than just an aperitif, this combo serves as a main meal in itself. Viognier is very soft and rounded in its acid profile, with rich notes of apricots, lavender and walnut. Matching it with the high acidity and vibrant, lemony flavour of fresh (note the word ‘fresh’) goat’s cheese, and you have a sensational full-bodied combination that provides one of those moments summer memories are made of.