GRAPEVINE with LIZ SAGUES: the right time to chill your reds
First, some thoughts about summer reds. Ignore the common recommendation to drink at room temperature . In fact, that advice shouldn t apply at any time of year since it dates from pre-central heating days when few rooms topped 18 degrees. Today s 21-plu
First, some thoughts about summer reds. Ignore the common recommendation to "drink at room temperature". In fact, that advice shouldn't apply at any time of year since it dates from pre-central heating days when few rooms topped 18 degrees. Today's 21-plus turns even big reds unpalatably sweaty.
But choose your summer reds carefully - avoid those with hefty tannins - and enjoy them much cooler, about 12 to 15 degrees. A bit less than an hour in the fridge before opening should do the trick. Don't overdo it, as too much chilling - and this applies to whites, as well, although with a colder minimum - strips away flavour to leave only the tart edges.
Loire reds are great chilled, as is beaujolais - but look for "villages" or the name of one of the 10 cru villages on the latter's label. While 2005 was an excellent vintage, 2006 was patchier. But Louis Jadot Combe aux Jacques (about £7, Budgens, Tesco, Waitrose and independents, including Grape Sense in Chalk Farm) is as consistent as ever, bubblegum fruity in scent and clean and fresh on the palate - loads of fruit but with structure to make it a serious wine. My tastebuds reckon it's a good match for smoked salmon. Its promoters suggest Indian food.
If you're barbecue partying, two bottles of Canto de Flora 2006 merlot cost slightly less than one Combe aux Jacques. This £3.20 Chilean from Morrisons carried off a silver medal in this year's International Wine Challenge. It is perfumed, soft, juicy, very enjoyable and a whole lot more complex than the price suggests.
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But summer more often means whites, so first a classic treat. Chablis Grand Cru Moutonne 2004, Domaine Long-Depaquit (£29.75-£32.50, Laithwaites, www.laith waites.co.uk, 0870 066 5689, Soho Wine Supply, 020-7636 8490) is from a tiny vineyard in one of the region's prime locations - and reflects all that in its taste, pure, complex, delicious and hugely long.
If your pocket won't run to that, off to Majestic for Jasnieres Domaine des Gauletteries 2006 (£8 or £7 if you buy at least two bottles in your minimum of 12). Jasnieres is one of the Loire's lesser known appellations, which makes fine, long-lasting wines from the chenin blanc grape. This example is a floral scented delight, lovely to drink now with its combination of honey and crisp acidity but will last happily to next summer if the sun fails to shine.
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Lower priced still is another Morrisons bargain - Gazela vinho verde (£4.70). It has the characteristic crisp yet gentle fizz of Portugal's best-known white but in a modern packaging and with a fruit-driven palate which suits 21st century tastes. Low alcohol - nine per cent - helps its quaffability
Finally, rosé with a difference - as sorbet. Make it - and drink the rest of the bottle with it - from Errazuriz Estate cabernet sauvignon 2006 (Thresher, £7, three for the price of two), which is sweet-fruited and robust enough to retain plenty of flavour once frozen.