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  • SUMMERTIME SIPPING

    Barbecues, Beaches and Picnics…

    By Angela Mount

    With teachers all over Bath looking happier by the day as their summer sojourn approaches, parents considering the challenges of entertaining their little darlings for over six weeks, and residents braced for the next influx of tourists, it’s safe to say summer is truly upon us.

    Whatever the weather, we all love a bit of Alfresco, and new outdoor drinking spaces are popping up all over the city. With entertainment and escape at the top of the agenda, barbecues, picnics and day trips to the beach are often the order of the day, regardless of the weather.

    Barbecues and picnics have become an art form, far removed from the charred burger, or limp cheese and tomato sandwiches of old. Be it beach, outdoor concert, day by the river, or impromptu party in the garden, my job is to ensure that your vinous choices match up to the culinary delights that you will be enjoying.

    First up, a few tips; for barbecues, stock up on ice, fill a couple of large buckets, or plastic storage crates, and add water to keep everything chilled. For spirit-lovers, put a bottle in the freezer (it won’t freeze), to keep cocktails icy cold. For days on the beach invest in a wine cooler sleeve or two, and keep everything even colder in the cool bag. Impromptu picnic by the river? Take a ball of string! Yes, I mean it - if your wine or beer is too warm, tie the string round a tree or rock, tie the other end to the bottle and dangle in the dabbling brook –it’s tried and tested, and yes it works. And finally, screwcap is definitely easier.

    Onto the wine itself. Let’s start with fizz – this isn’t the time to bring out your vintage Champagne; keep things light and fresh. With the Prosecco craze in overdrive, try a similarly fresh, but more flavoursome fizz from the eastern side of northern Italy.  Cleto Chiarli Pignoletto brut NV is zesty and lively, with a welcome citrus and green apple tang.

    Sundowners in the garden?  You can’t go wrong with a thirst-quenching G&T – try Jensens Bermondsey gin, a classic London dry gin with floral and citrus verve; or, ahead of a seafood extravaganza, conjure up the spirit of Andalucia, with a searingly cold, super-fresh glass of tangy, salty La Guita Manzanilla, just perfect with olives and salted almonds.

    At this time of year, keep things light, in terms of both style and alcohol. Avoid heavily oaked wines, and opt for fruity, fresher styles.  Cotes de Provence is now a Summer staple, and Great Western Wine have an impressive array of these, but if you’re looking to drink pink with your barbecue, why not move a little further west from the Riviera and try the vibrantly fruity, and ridiculously good value Domaine du Donjon, Minervois 2016, stashed with red berry and citrus-licked fruit; bring on the seared tuna.

    For lunchtime picnics, Vinho Verde is the perfect choice, and rapidly coming back into fashion – forget the sweet fizzy stuff of old, today’s versions, are crisp, dry, and lemony-bright with the merest hint of spritz, and utterly refreshing both in taste and in lightness of alcohol. Vinho Verde Quinta da Lixa 2016 is ideal, at a mere 10.5% alcohol, and won’t have you dozing off after lunch. Enjoy with the freshest of salads.

    Staying with the bright and breezy theme, but veering into unchartered waters, the little-known Txakolina Adur 2015 would be a worthy addition to your summer wine collection.  From the wild and rugged hills of the Basque country, this dry white is as pinpoint–sharp as a laser beam, with mouth-watering green apple and lemon tones, and a lip-smacking zesty, bone dry finish – and crying out for grilled sardines, the freshest of prawns, or calamari.

    My final white is much closer to home – just down the road in Dorset; English sparkling wine now stands up to Champagne in international competitions, but still wines are less well-known. I recently discovered the appropriately-named Lyme Bay Shoreline 2016 – light and pretty with a citrus tang and floral notes. Perfect for a day by the sea, or a holiday BBQ, and a mean match with take away fish and chips, watching the sun set over the water.

    As far as reds are concerned, either opt for lighter, fresher styles, in which case chill them lightly, or go for bold, soft and spicy, the perfect partners for flavour-packed barbecues. In the former camp sits the rather delicious and award-winning, Austrian red, Hopler Blaufrankisch 2013 – ripe and juicy, with lashings of sweetly-spiced blackberry fruit, it’s delightfully soft and silky; spot on with sharing platters of prosciutto, salami, antipasti and also barbecued chicken. And finally, my choice of red for steak, minted lamb and spicy kebabs would be the Aussie Skillogalee Basket Pressed Shiraz 2013, a decadently rich, indulgent and velvety red, oozing with voluptuous dark fruit and spice, and perfect for sultry summer evenings (if we get them).

    Happy holidays!

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