CALIBRE pairs some its favourite wines to some delicious summer food
As a committed optimist, I’m convinced that the warmer weather is here to stay. And so as summer menus change to emphasise lighter, seasonal summer fare, our thoughts at home also turn to BBQs, fish, seafood salads, asparagus and strawberries and cream – in other words, nothing too heavy or filling please.
With that in mind, I have been thinking about some suitable wines that would work with the versatile flavours we encounter in the summer. If you crave BBQ or grilled red meats, then you’ll need equally robust, strong-flavoured wines to match the food – a Malbec or a good Syrah is a BBQ’s best friend.
If, however, you crave nothing but lighter salads during the summer months, then keep the wine pairing simple. Vinegar in salad dressings destroys the flavour of wine, so if you want salad as a meal then we recommend dressing the salad with a little white wine or lemon juice. Sauvignon Blanc makes a nice accompaniment to salads or, if you are pushing the boat out with Salad Nicoise, then drink a good Provencal rose for a real treat. A prawn salad calls out for a dry, rich white; New Zealand Chardonnay, Riesling or Sparkling is a good match.
Another important thing to consider when pairing wine with food is the sauce – often a much more important factor than the meat itself. Tomato based sauces, for example, will obliterate fine red wines, so a young fruity wines, like Zinfandel, are a better bet. Marinades and sauces require strong, robust wines.
Here are some top choices to get you started:
2015 Errazuriz Aconcagua Costa Sauvignon, Aconcagua, Chile – RRP: £11.99
Where to buy: Waitrose
This is one of the most thrilling Chilean Sauvignons ever, at an extremely reasonable price. Who could resist the gorgeous aromatics and zesty fruit on offer from this lovely wine? It’s the perfect accompaniment to any fish course.
2014 Esk Valley Riesling, Marlborough, New Zealand – RRP: £10.15
Where to buy: thedrinkshop.com
Another great summer buy, although in a very different style to the wine above. Riesling finds a natural home in Marlborough on New Zealand’s South Island, producing wines of considerable grace and charm. This example from Esk Valley is both aromatic and steely, a delicious Riesling full of lime cordial fruit which gives way to a lovely mineral edge and a good backbone. Irresistible at a young age, this will stand a few years cellaring.
2016 Sacha Lichine’s Single Blend Rosé 2016 – RRP :£10.95
Where to buy: fromvineyards.direct.com
A strong contender for the best rosé I have tried this year, and not just for al fresco dining. You can enjoy this light, zesty and elegant rosé all year round. It is bursting with red summer fruits: the mouth instantly fills with raspberry, strawberry, redcurrant and liquorice. Utterly moreish, a bottle wasn’t enough!
2010 Chateau d l’Abbaye de Saint-Ferme – RRP £10.95
Where to buy: fromvineyards.direct.com
Another winning choice sourced by From Vineyards Direct, this delicious gem offers a hell of a lot of wine for the money; lovely red berry fruit, cassis and cedar wood combine with a firm structure and good acidity to make this a food friendly red.
2013 McGuigan Handmade Shiraz, South Australia, Australia – RRP: £25
Where to buy: majestic.co.uk
McGuigan’s top labels are always great buys, this Aussie Shiraz is “a beauty,” – a world away from the Rhone’s Syrah but every bit as welcome. Full bodied, this Shiraz has a powerful and intense nose of red berry fruit, chocolate and vanilla. Expect plum, spice, mocha and red cherry on the palate, wrapped in a gorgeous, velvety texture. Demands hard cheeses, venison and rib-eye steaks.
Taittinger Brut Prestige Rose, Champagne, France – RRP: £50.00
Where to buy: www.majestic.co.uk
It would be hard to imagine a more perfect warm-weather aperitif than this elegant, salmon pink coloured rose from Taittinger. A lighter rose style which seduces you with its soft-scented strawberry, raspberry and citrus aromas and flavours. Enough said.
Bruno Paillard Blanc de Blancs Reserve Privee Champagne – RRP: £50.15
Where to buy: www.thewhiskyexchange.com
Bruno Paillard produces a sublime, fruity and elegant 100% Chardonnay Champagne that never fails to seduce with its mineral, citrus fruit and full bodied palate. Indeed, Paillard’s Blanc de Blancs is one of the finest I have ever tasted, a glamorous way to start any picnic lunch.