My main requirement for almost any wine I buy at this time of year is that it should go with seafood. Whether it’s fish and chips on the beach, a fresh crab sandwich, grilled sardines or a platter of oysters, my brain instantly switches to holiday mode and a desire for a chilled glass of white. (Before you leap on me and demand to know whether I’m aware that reds go with fish, too, yes, I do, especially with grilled fish such as tuna, but it’s still white wine I crave.)
Familiar wines that rock my boat are picpoul de pinet, muscadet, albariño, even pinot grigio at a pinch, but in particular I love the tart, almost mouth-puckering tartness of txacoli, the fashionable Basque wine that is flamboyantly poured from a height to accentuate its spritz. Flysch Txakolina 2016 (£14.50 Berry Bros & Rudd; 11% abv) would be fantastic with chargrilled squid and, frankly, would even make dodgy deep-fried calamari rings taste good (it’s pronounced “chah-kuh-leena”, incidentally).
Vinho verde, which comes from the north of Portugal, is another wine to look out for during these dog days of summer. The cheaper ones don’t generally have much flavour, although for £4.99 you can hardly complain about Aldi’s Animus Vinho Verde (10.5% abv), which also has a refreshing spritz, but I prefer the prettier, floral character of Vinho Verde Quinta da Lixa 2016 (10.5% abv), currently on offer at £7.50 from Great Western Wine. You could drink that with anything fishy, from sardines to shrimps. Incidentally, the region’s producers seem to have given up on trying to persuade us that it’s pronounced vino verd, as they insisted when I visited a few years ago – on a promotional YouTube video I stumbled across the other day, they all pronounce it “verday”.
Once you introduce spice into your seafood, more aromatic whites such as riesling come into play. Lidl has just released its latest tranche of limited-edition wines, of which a significant number are Hungarian. Look out for the Zenit Tornai Princeszet 2016 (£5.99; 12.5% abv), a mouthwateringly juicy white that would go with a seafood cocktail. And while you’re at Lidl, it also has a delicious light red Dornfelder (12.5% abv), from the Pfalz, for just £4.99 that would be perfect with tuna.
Then, of course, there’s sauvignon blanc, which I much prefer in summer to any other time of year. If you like sancerre, try the often more characterful reuilly, also from the Loire. Domaine Cordaillat’s 2016 Reuilly(£13.99 Davis Bell McCraith ; 13% abv) is a summer evening in a glass, and the one I’d go for with fresh crab.
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