August is here, the month of festival burgers, picnic sausages and garden party grilling. Though you may be used to a cold beer in the sun, if you want to elevate that hotdog with a nice glass, here are the summer wines – and top tips about drinking in the hot weather – to keep in mind.
Beer’s chilled bubbles are refreshing and a good balancer for your hunks of protein, so pick a wine to do the same job. English sparkling wine just keeps getting better and is a great choice with its typically crisp, cool elegance. If you prefer fruity and fresh, look instead to Prosecco to get the party started.
South Africa takes its meat so seriously that the braai could be regarded as the real national sport. As such it’s a great place to start your wine hunt. Any smokiness in your dish means a classic Pinotage will work well and if you are cooking for a crowd may I suggest Bruce Jack Pinotage Malbec at only £7 from Sainsburys. Full-bodied, smooth, and packed full of juicy, smoky flavour it is an absolute treat.
With temperatures rising you may want to opt for a red wine you can serve chilled. A Beaujolais is an obvious choice with its playful fruity notes, and I love the GAM Beaujolais-Villages Domaine Lathuiliere Gravallon 2021 for £13.95 from Corney & Barrow.
My personal choice, however, is a chilled Primitivo which has a rich depth of flavour and velvety texture. The Pasqua ‘PassioneSentimento’ Passimento is only £11.99 from Majestic and is seriously lush summer sipping.
White Côte du Rhônes are rising in popularity and The Wine Society’s Château Courac offers pretty complexity for only £10.95, perfect for your roast chicken. However, for a white that could feasibly handle a steak, look back to South Africa and opt for an oak-aged Chenin Blanc.
The iconic and award winning FMC by Ken Forrester at £40 from The Great Wine Co is sure to prove a knockout. Rosé is the ultimate of the summer wines, and a garden godsend with its refreshing flavours of berry, peach and citrus. Known for poolside quaffing, many rosés in fact offer incredible versatility for food pairing.
Do not buy into the myth that the darker the rosé is, the sweeter. The depth of colour is to do with skin contact which gives the wine structure, making it a good choice for meatier dishes, whereas the pale Provence style pink is a gift for grilled halloumi, robust fish or anything spicy. Green garden vegetables like asparagus and courgette or a crisp summer salad are excellent with a flinty Sancerre like the Hubert Brouchard for £18.99 from Waitrose or a bright Vinho Verde, which comes with a little frisson of spritz.
If you’re cooking chunky mushroom or baked aubergine, then a light Pinot Noir is a beautiful choice, and one of my absolute favourite summer wines. Grilled or white fish will want something fresh, precise and slick with salinity, so try a trendy Albariño or an Assyrtiko from Greece like the popular Domaine Skouras at Majestic for £12.99. If a buttery sauce is being used switch it up to a wine that balances that weight so lean more towards a rounded Chablis or White Burgundy.