YES, it did feel like summer had come early last week, but the sudden shift from unseasonably warm sunshine to unseasonably heavy rain put paid to that.
Nevertheless, this is as good a time as any to line up some wines, particulary well suited to the long warm evenings that are (hopefully) on the way. So this week and next my mission is to put together the best widely-available examples of two styles that are particularly warm weather friendly — rosés today and, next week, wines that are just a little bit sweet.
No wine is the ‘wrong’ one for warm weather: if a particular deep, dark red is your favourite, it certainly won’t go amiss while you’re sitting outside.
But you really bring the best out of the sunshine by accompanying it with something light, bright and cool. A glass of stone cold white might seem ideal but I think whites are too insubstantial for the task — with the sensory overload that is hot sunshine on your skin, it takes something quite intense and distinctive to tantalise your tastebuds.
Take a red grape and peel it: the interior will be pretty much the same colour as white grapes. The point being that all the colour and tannin in red wines and in rosés comes from the skin, and only the skin, of red grapes. While there are other production methods, the most common one involves minimising contact with the skins.
Rosés were a relative rarity 10 years ago and it’s been great in more recent times to see folks adopt to rosés — anything that broadens our wine repertoire is a good thing in my view. But still, many don’t quite know what to make of the style and regard it as a sort of toned-down, semi-detached red.
To those who don’t think pink it’s useful to view it the other way round — as a wine with all the crisp cool character of a good white, lifted by zingy berry flavour.
Château de Pennautier Rosé 2008 Cabardès
Dunnes Stores — currently down €2 to €7.99
This modern Languedoc wine is both a multi-award winner and an old favourite of this column, delicious, assertive and a mouthwatering food-friendly tart edge.
Nugan Estate Third Generation Shiraz Rosé 2010
Centra, SuperValu around €8.99
The Nugan Estate range is all about well-made reliable wines and this one’s no exception — a handsome dark fuchsia colour, aromatic on the nose and plump with fruit and spice on the palate.
Tarantino Zinfandel rose IGT
M&S, reduced from €10.99 to €7.99
Here's the favourite Californian grape, but made back home in Italy: Delightfully spicy, light, crisp and savoury.
Tenuta di Ceppaiano Rosé Toscana 2010
Spar, Eurospar and Mace , €7.99
Now this deep pink Tuscan rosé made with the sangiovese grape is refreshing: plump pears on the nose give way to the mouthwatering dry tang of bitter cherry.
Jacob’s Creek Sparkling Rosé NV
Widely available for about €14
Sparkling is one form that rosé thrives in, and this I think is a great example: It seems to be a tad sweeter than its white counterpart, but wears it beautifully along with the earthy pinot berry flavours.
Secano Estate Rosé Pinot Noir 2010
Marks & Spencer, €12.49
Apart from sparklers, Pinot’s an unusual grape to choose for rosé, as it’s already relatively light in character, but in the hands of Viña Leyda, one of Chile’s most renowned producers this is a perfectly nuanced, perfumed and earthy pink pinot.