Champagne and strawberries have always gone hand in glove with sunshine and al fresco living.An indulgence for the rich? Well it really doesn’t have to be that way.
Yes, Champagne is expensive but there are cheaper alternatives, so think outside the box and look no further than the delightfully light and fizzy Prosecco from Piedmont, in Northern Italy.
It’s a wonderful low-in-alcohol alternative and is the prime ingredient of the classic Venetian peach cocktail Bellini, which is simply peach puree and Prosecco.
Or why not try strawberry or raspberry puree, which is absolutely luscious. Perfect for picnics, summer events – or just for enjoying sunshine in your garden.
We are, it seems, becoming more and more likely to drink pink or rosé wine, which has seen an extraordinary growth recently – up 139 per cent over the past decade and up around 20 per cent in the past year alone – in pubs and restaurants to around 12 per cent of wine consumed in the UK.
This is against a backdrop of declining sales generally in bars so it is even more striking, but deservedly so.
Rosé de Provence is an icon from the world’s largest rosé producing region in the southeast of France.
It has a beautiful delicate pink colour and a wine that will pair with almost any food. In fact, it is proving so popular French rosé now outsells white wine in France.
We, in the UK, have the luxury of a global input to our market and I implore you to try some amazing value quality rosés from South Africa. These are often made by French wine makers plying their trade in a better climate.
Circumstance Rosé from Waterkloof Estate, in Stellenbosch, is made with the Mourvèdre grape and is a steal at £8.75. Its French equivalent would be in the region of £12 a bottle.
My summer drinking is set to revolve around South African varietals. Chenin Blanc, Viognier and Sauvignon blanc all thrive here and are up there with the best in the world.
The difference of course is in the price. A South African Sauvignon Blanc can be half the cost of its New Zealand equivalent without compromising on quality.
My current recommendations are: Koopmanskloof Sauvignon Blanc Semillon (£7) – A soft wine with hints of asparagus, lime and peach. Percheron Chenin Blanc Viognier (£6.50) – From the Western Cape this wine is richly aromatic with vibrant white stone fruit flavours.