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GlassMJESum­mer 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…


Manly rosé

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.


Groovy oysters

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.