Summer’s Wine Essentials

A fast-track guide to the wines that will suit every summer occasion – and some handy tips on how to ensure they are served in the right way
Summer’s Wine Essentials

From prawn salad to BBQ classics, expert Richard Bampfield has the perfect wine to pair with any dish this summer.

By Richard Bampfield, Master of Wine and consultant to Lidl Ireland

I probably shouldn’t admit this but just thinking of summer makes me thirsty. Picnics, barbecues, snacks on the patio, garden parties, outdoor sports and music events, lazing by the pool (if I’m lucky), impromptu guests turning up in shorts and tee shirts………all occasions that are enhanced by a refreshing glass of wine. And let’s not forget the birthdays, weddings, christenings, wedding anniversaries and graduations! But what wine to serve? Here's a quick guide to ensure you are always serving the right wine for the occasion.

All around the world, rosé wine has suddenly become fashionable; and none more so than the pale, dry rosés of Provence in southern France. Not too strong in flavour but refreshing and beautifully balanced, these wines are perfect for summer occasions as they are easy to drink both on their own and with food. And, talking of food, doesn’t that delicate pale colour look the part with classic summer dishes like prawn salad and poached salmon? Serve well chilled because the glasses will warm quickly in the summer sun. The best of these rosés are from the Côtes de Provence appellation such as Lidl’s Générique rosé for only €9.49 with a rating of 85, but wines of similar style and often better value can be found in Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence which Lidl’s wide range also offer with their Les Cinq Rameaux with a rating of 85 also found in for only €9.49. Both are new Rosés joining Lidl’s spectacular range this Summer.

The memories of sharing good wine with friends and family are always so much better if not clouded by a hangover, warns Richard!
The memories of sharing good wine with friends and family are always so much better if not clouded by a hangover, warns Richard!

As for whites, summer is the ideal time for lighter styles of white. Sauvignon Blanc is a perennial favourite: those from France’s Loire Valley, Sauvignon’s original home, and South Africa are ever popular. The latter is also well known for its dry Chenin Blanc, not as highly aromatic as Sauvignon but always crisp, light and refreshing – as ever, look out for those with Fairtrade status. Lidl’s Premium Fairtrade Chenin Blanc from the Winemakers Selection is an exquisite example of this, and at only €7.99 with a high rating of 86 this is one of my top picks. My personal favourite summer grape is Riesling because I like the combination of depth of flavour, fruitiness, mouthwatering freshness and (very often) low alcohol – those from the Mosel often stand out as ideal summer whites such as Mosel Riesling from Lidl’s range at €7.99 with a rating of 87. Most of these wines now come with screwcaps rather than corks – these have no adverse effect on quality and are so much more practical if you’re taking wine on a picnic or to a festival.

Whites and rosés also come in sparkling forms and sales of these wines have boomed in recent years, driven largely by the runaway success of Prosecco. I am not sure if it is a good habit or not but I always keep a bottle or two of Lidl’s Prosecco Superiore (€12.99, rating of 87) in the fridge in case of unexpected guests or an impromptu celebration. Fizz always seems to go down well, it adds a certain sparkle to any occasion and, although it is often drunk on its own with snacks, it is also a surprisingly good match for many lighter dishes. Lidl’s Prosecco Spumante Rosé makes an ideal gift when going round to friends, not only is the flavour beautiful but the stunning bottle gives your gift that extra edge. At only €12.99 with a rating of 85 it is a key item to add to your Summer shopping. Should you go for white or rosé? There is not a dramatic difference in flavour, so whatever takes your mood……..or perhaps whichever matches your outfit! And a shout out here for Lidl’s Arestel Cava a rating of 86 for only €11.49 – if there is a better value sparkling wine on the market, I have yet to find it.

In terms of service of sparkling wine, remember to take care when removing the cork – ensure the bottle is facing away from yourself and others (and any chandeliers) because sometimes the cork can come out at an alarming speed. Allow for 6 or 7 glasses a bottle (as with other 75cl bottles of wine) and, like still whites and rosés, serve well chilled as sparkling wine loses its fizz faster as it warms up. If you run out of cold bottles, the fastest way to chill bottles down is by immersing them in a bucket of ice and water – much faster and safer than the freezer (where bottles run the risk of exploding if left in too long). As you can tell, I like my summer drinks nice and cold, so I have a trick up my sleeve. I freeze strawberries, raspberries and blueberries and then add them to a glass of fizz – they look good and act as highly ornamental ice cubes!

Now all the above might be of little use if you are primarily a red wine drinker. But you are not forgotten! In fact, I find it impossible to imagine a barbecue without a bottle of good red. 

Richard also recommends Lidl's Côtes du Rhône, selling at just €8.69 and with a rating of 85.
Richard also recommends Lidl's Côtes du Rhône, selling at just €8.69 and with a rating of 85.

There are too many great options to mention here but you can’t go wrong with a hearty Aussie Shiraz such as Lidl’s Australian Shiraz Barossa, or an Argentinian Malbec like Lidls from Uco Valley. Both are beautiful wines from their Winemakers Selection for only €8.99 with a rating of 88 each. They both also bring out the best in grilled meats…….and vice-versa! Or maybe you are looking for something a little more special, in which case Lidl’s Saint Emilion Grand Cru will fit the bill for only €14.99 with a rating of 87. When it is really warm, lighter reds would be more refreshing, such as a Chianti like Lidl’s Chianti Riserva rating at 89 for a steal at only €9.99. Or maybe a Côtes du Rhône (€8.69, rating 85) , or a Beaujolais-Villages (€7.99, rating 85) from Lidl’s range instead. All of these can be served lightly chilled (30 minutes in the fridge) to make them more refreshing and I have been known to throw in an ice cube on a particularly warm day. Well, why not?

If you know you are going to be doing some entertaining during the summer, it is well worth having some of the above bottles on standby if you have space to keep them – then it is easier to plan ahead and make sure the whites, rosé and fizz can be served at the right temperature (in summer, straight from the fridge is fine). And one final thing – don’t forget water………..the memories of sharing good wine with friends and family are always so much better if not clouded by a hangover!

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