Anthony Rose: 'Refreshing reds for picnics, barbecues and al fresco sipping'

The more northerly the climate (or southerly in the southern hemisphere), the lighter the red

Anthony Rose
Thursday 16 July 2015 15:51 BST

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Louise Thomas

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Summer brings on a thirst for dry white and sparkling wines, but spare a thought for refreshing reds too, for picnics, barbecues and al fresco sipping. Since a wine's first duty is to refresh, overt tannins, oak and hefty alcohol become uglier in warm weather. The more northerly the climate (or southerly in the southern hemisphere), the lighter the red, generally speaking. Half an hour in the fridge for a Loire, Beaujolais or north Italian red will bring out the lively sappiness of the fruit.

If beaujolais lost its mojo with nouveau, it's on its way back. The light tannins, medium body and summer pudding tartness of the region's gamay grape lend their qualities well to summer supping. You can see just why in the floral, cherryish juiciness of a red like the 2014 Paul Sapin Beaujolais, £8.50, Marks & Spencer; the gluggy, fresh red berry fruit quality of the 2014 Aldi The Exquisite Collection Fleurie, £6.49, or the juicy, summer pudding-in-a glass fruit of the 2013 Waitrose Beaujolais-Villages, £7.49. Loire Valley cabernet franc also takes to being lightly chilled in reds like Domaine de la Noblaie's fragrantly herbal, smooth 2013 Truly Irresistible Chinon, £9.99, The Co–operative.

The Italians are past maestri of the refreshing red, especially from the Veneto. Once a byword for wishy-washy reds, bardolino and valpolicella have been transformed in recent times into deliciously quaffable summer reds. The 2014 La Prendina Bardolino, £9, Marks & Spencer, for instance is a corvina-based blend, which has changed its spots to become spicy and rather moreish. A tad more serious in style, valpolicella can now hit the spot in wines such as the 2012 M Signature Valpolicella Ripasso, £7.49, Morrisons, with its ripe, rich cherry and plum fruitiness.

The char of barbecued meat and vegetables can take a more robust line in reds. Zoom down from the head to below Italy's foot and you'll find, in Sicily, deep, dark, plummy reds both for quaffing and for barbecues. The Settesoli co-operative has mastered the nero d'avola grape to cunning effect in the youthfully peppery, dark cherry and sour plum scented 2014 M Signature Nero d'Avola, £5.49, Morrisons, whose juicy freshness and bite is equalled by the bright, barbecue-friendly, cherryish 2014 Tesco Finest Nero D'Avola, £5.99, down from £7.99 until 4 August, Tesco.

Along with southern Italy, Spain has become one of the best sources of moreish barbecue bargains. Try for instance the 3C 2014 Cariñena, £5.50, The Wine Society, a delightfully juicy mouthful of red berry fruits, and the tasty, crowd-pleasing raspberry 2014 Pedrera Monastrell, £7.25, Noel Young Wines, from Bodegas Juan Gil, which also punches way above its weight.

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