Summer brings on a thirst for dry white and sparkling wines but spare a thought for refreshing red wines too, for picnics, barbecues and al fresco sipping. Since a wine’s first duty is to refresh, overt tannins, oak and hefty alcohol become uglier in warm weather. The more northerly the climate (or southerly in the Southern hemisphere), the lighter the red, generally speaking. Half an hour in the fridge for a Loire, Beaujolais or North Italian red will bring out the lively sappiness of the fruit.
One of the bonuses of this summer press tastings has been the quality of aromatic Loire whites based on sauvignon blanc. The major white grape of the central Loire can be one-dimensional and difficult to match with food. Yet because the restraint, finesse, balance and flinty dryness of the better examples are generally not as in-your-face as their Kiwi counterparts, they can often work satisfyingly not just as dry whites on their own but with salads, goat’s cheese and white fish.
If this column were a people pleaser, it would devote itself exclusively to the cheapest and the deepest promotions. Much has been written, not least on this page, of the false dawn promised by supermarket promotions. Suffice it to repeat that more often than not the promotion is not what it seems, but rather, a cynical exercise creating deal junkies and binge drinkers by artificially raising the price to make the wine look cheap when it’s on offer at buy-one-get-one free or three for ten.