What makes a summer wine a summer wine? Are there any chilled reds which are just made to be drunk with fish? What are the rules about which sort of glasses we should be drinking from or, indeed, are there any rules at all?
Our in-house wine expert Heidi and Yotam (who've been known to raise a glass or two together over the years) share their thoughts. . .
What’s the difference between a summer wine and a winter wine?
Heidi: I associate summer wine with lightness, sun and balmy evenings! A wine that can be enjoyed with grilled foods, preferably outdoors, or without food to cool you down in the sun on a picnic. A winter wine for me is a hearty wine that can stand up to stews, bakes and roasts.
Yotam: Heidi’s hit the spot. A summer wine needs to be easy to drink, not in a bland Pinot-Grigio kind of way but in a way the keeps you keen and curious well into a long summer evening, with food or without it.
Your perfect summer lunch wine: red, white or rose?
Heidi: Depends on what we are having for lunch! If we are eating cheese and baguette in the park, a nice rosé from Provence like Bandol Rosé, La Suffrene ‘13 would be great.
If you are taking me out for tapas on a terrace somewhere in the sun, I would drink lots of ice-cold Manzanilla sherry.
For fish and chips by the seaside I would love to drink Lambrusco.
Yotam: Red, orange or white. Heidi is still working on my ridiculously baseless bias against rose. I am waiting to be converted.
What’s your take on chilled reds? Are there any stand-outs you’d recommend?
Heidi: I love chilled reds. Choose lighter bodied reds with soft tannins if you would like to enjoy them chilled. These two work particularly well: Brezo Tinto, Bodegas Mengoba '10 and Le Clocher Pour Une Poignee de Bouteilles.
Yotam: Chilled reds are at the top of my list at the moment. I find it hard to stop drinking them; in the same way I carry on drinking a good cider without noticing I’m on to my third little bottle. This Pulled pork sandwich with pomegranate salad is a fantastic partner to both Heidi’s suggestions.
Do you stick to the red-with-meat and white-with-fish tradition? If not, is there a white you’d recommend with meat and, vice versa, a red wine that goes with fish?
Heidi: Now that the category of orange wines has been thrown into the mix, things have really become interesting! What I love about many orange wines (white wines that have been made like red wines) is that they can be enjoyed both with your starter and main, meat, fish and salads. They are incredibly versatile – this Georgian gem of a wine would be perfect for a barbecue where you would have both meat, fish and veg on the grill. But no, I don’t adhere to traditions – I could happily enjoy a bottle of rich, white wine with meat just as I could easily enjoy a bottle of Nebbiolo, Valpolicella or any other light red with fish or chicken – this would be beautiful with most lighter dishes: Ar Pe Pe Rosso Di Valtellina 2011
Yotam: : I am not a stickler to tradition on any front, particularly when it comes to old ideas about matching food with wine. Okay, a hearty venison and pancetta stew wouldn’t exactly go hand-in-hand with this light Palestinian white, which I absolutely adore, but there is way more grey than black-and-white when it comes to food and wine. Look at these Polenta crisps with avocado and yoghurt , or even the Roast chicken with dates, olives and capers: what is “right” here? Light red? Orange? White? As far as I am concerned, they’re all good.
Champagne, Prosecco, Cava or spritzer? Which one would you choose and are there any varieties which particularly excite you?
Heidi: I love cloudy “old-school” style prosecco’s – these two are particularly good: Prosecco Sottoriva Malibran and Prosecco di Valdobbiadene, Casa Coste Piane. But my favourite sparkling wine, this time of the year is Lambrusco – nothing beats a cold glass of dry, frothy Lambrusco on a hot summer’s day! Forget about the sugary stuff you normally find in the super markets -these two are outstanding: Lambrusco di Sorbara Radice Paltrinieri and Ferrando, Quarticello '13.
Yotam: : I am not very good with sparkling wine, so I will have to pass on this one.
If you could take one summer white wine to a supper party, what would it be?
Heidi: I would bring a bottle of Aphros Loureiro, Vinho Verde, ‘13. This is a real best-seller at our Nopi restaurant! It is a fresh and mineral Vinho Verde. Not particularly complex or layered, but incredibly easy to drink and super refreshing so would be perfect as an aperitif or as a palette cleanser!
Yotam: : Excuse me but I’d rather take this Manzanilla sherry. As dry as it gets and the perfect match to anything I’d want to eat: savoury pastries, oily fish, grilled white meat and most desserts.
If a summer wine is lighter and fresher than a winter wine, does that mean you drink twice as much?
Heidi: I’m afraid the answer is yes.
Yotam: : With the risk of sounding like Heidi’s alcoholic older brother, yes, and yes again.
Do you like to drink your wine from a classic wine glass or the stemless French Picardie tumblers. Do you think it makes a difference?
Heidi: I think there’s a time and place for both – some of the nicest wines I have had from plastic cups in my friend’s garden.
Yotam: :Wine from a plastic cup, excuse me Heidi, definitely not. Otherwise, I am pretty happy with most glass-made receptacles.