With their silver sheen and blue/green and black stripes, their high oil content, abundance and low cost, mackerel press all the right buttons when it comes to cheap, healthy, ethical eating. And summer is when they are most populous in British waters.
Like tuna and sardines, grilled mackerel – or perhaps butterflied on the barbecue – need a crisp, white wine to cut through their oily richness. A zesty, citric, sauvignon blanc from New Zealand or Chile should do the trick, particularly since their gooseberry flavours match those of the best sauce to have with mackerel. If you are lucky enough to get mackerel straight out of the ocean and are eating it raw, sushi-style, try one of the less well known French grapes such as ugni blanc or picpoul that produce clean, fresh, seafoodfriendly wines. But avoid anything oaky or buttery like a chardonnay.
A spicy marinade for your fish, with a touch of chilli, like harissa or peri-peri, needs a southern Rhone or Provence rose, typically including cinsault, carignan or grenache grapes; keep away from fuller, fruiter New World roses with fish – but enjoy them afterwards with some of the lovely English summer berries that are also very tempting right now. Sounds like the perfect summer meal. Here are some suggestions.
The Ned Black Label Waihopai River Sauvignon Blanc 2010
Refreshingly acidic, full of tropical fruit and gooseberry flavours. Terrific with the last asparagus of the season as a starter. £7.49 Majestic; (or buy two for £5.99 each, minimum purchase six bottles)
Baron de Badassière, Picpoul de Pinet 2010
Grown only around Languedoc and the southern Rhone, picpoul delivers fragrant aromas, a rich mouthful and a long finish. £8.30 slurp.co.uk (minimum purchase six bottles)
Reserve Du Boulas Cotes Du Rhone Rose 2010
Cinsault, grenache and syrah grapes from the slopes around Avignon. Suitable for any Mediterranean foods. £5.99 Marks and Spencers (down from £7.99 until July)