When the British weather is good, there’s nothing better than long, languid days in the garden, enjoying al-fresco meals with friends – with a glass – or two – of vino. But how do you find the perfect wines to complement your summer calendar? It’s all down to mood, weather and palate…
The first glass is very much about setting the tone – and filling it with something light, fresh and dry will do the trick. Few things do this better than Champagne, but another equally convivial option is Cava. Produced in the Catalunya region of northern Spain, its grapes – the main ones being Macabeo, Xarello and Parellada – ripen early in the hot and dry climate, resulting in naturally dry iterations that require little or no addition of sweetness (aka dosage). Like Champagne, it is made in the methode traditionelle, where the wine’s secondary fermentation happens inside the bottle to yield those citrusy, orchard-fruit notes. A particularly fine example is Don Román RSVA Imperial – expect lots of complexity and a round finish.
Kicking off festivities without bubbles is also a viable option, especially if you present guests with a Reichsrat von Buhl Riesling en magnum. The two-bottle format always commands attention, and in the case of this German winery, what's inside is even more impressive. The Deidesheimer Leinhohle 2016has the characteristic mineral qualities of a German Riesling, with stone fruits and citrus but is totally dry and perfectly refreshing.
Summer calls for those go-to bottles that can be relied on time and again. The Harrods Margaret River Chardonnay is a wine that’s perfect for mid-week suppers at home, but also good enough to bring as a guest. Made on an exclusive basis, it’s a single-vineyard bottling from Western Australia with all the refined, elegant characteristics of an Old World Chardonnay, but with a New World twist in the slightly riper, richer fruit. "At this price point, it’s the best Chardonnay I’ve tasted in 20 years," says Ed Gerard, Harrods Head Wine & Spirit Buyer.
For larger groups with varied palates, a suitably versatile rosé is needed – more specifically, Château d’Esclans Rock Angel. Pale in colour with a dense, fruity palate, this Provence rosé pairs best with lighter summer lunch favourites, especially Mediterranean cuisine, but also white meats and appetisers. And for serious parties, there’s a 9-litre bottle in-store that’s exclusive to Harrods in the UK – and sure to make an impact.
The Summer Reds
Summer is not just the preserve of whites and rosés – lighter, chilled reds are ideal for warm weather, while more full-bodied cuvées are made for barbecues and evening alfresco dining.
As steaks, sausages and burgers sizzle away on the grill, it’s important to keep the wine flowing. Enter Hermandad Blend, an Argentinian barbecue essential, blended from meat-friendly Bordeaux grape varieties Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot. Packed with fruits on the palate, it’s rich and soft with a good body, meaning it will pair excellently with flavours like BBQ and hoisin sauce, even ketchup (if you must).
As the evening draws out, cooler temperatures suit a warmer red with more spice – a full-bodied Grenache is the ideal choice. Some of the best options come from Spain’s Priorat appellation, which boasts the country’s highest-ranking DOCa classification and is one of a few world-class wine styles to be based on Grenache. One of our favourites is Mas Martinet Menut Priorat, a bottle loaded with jammy notes of blackberry, raspberry and vanilla; drinkable yet sophisticated, it will elevate any alfresco dining experience. So much so that our Wine Buyer, Siobhan Irons, reveals: "After the initial tasting, I ordered a case for myself before listing it for Harrods".
Wine and warm weather tend to get people talking – but there are some bottles that spur conversation all by themselves. Think lesser-known grape varieties and intriguing flavours, delivered in an accessible style.
Take Furmint – most wine buffs will likely associate the variety with the Hungarian sweet dessert wine Tokaji, made from the same grape. Recently however, it’s the dry Furmints that are causing a stir, their appealing, characteristic acidity and subtle smokiness (derived from Hungary’s volcanic soil) giving them trend status among the sommelier community. One to enjoy is Chateau Pajzos Dry Furmint, which has a rich palate of ripe peaches and pears to complement a wide array of dishes, especially those with saltiness and spice.
And if you want to put committed fans of Riesling to the test, serve them trendy Austrian grape variety Grüner Veltliner blind. Peter Schweiger's is an assertive and steely white, with herbaceous notes and a savoury spice. Grown by father and son on the slopes of Kamptal, the vines are farmed using environmentally friendly methods. By the end of the bottle, you’re sure to have a few converts.
If there’s a wine for every occasion, there’s a wine for every palate. Our team of experts will help you find the bottle for you, as well as offer advice on pairings, event planning and more. Visit us in-store, call +44 (0)207 893 8777 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.