Making sangria is more exciting than planting petunias

I WAS very happy it  was sunny in the garden so I made sangria. I should have been planting the petunias, but you can’t write a drinks column about petunias.

With the garden fork cast to one side,  I Googled for inspiration and discovered as many recipe variations on the sangria  theme as there are Police Academy movies.

In the end I settled on two-parts red wine, two-parts fresh orange juice (without the “bits”) and one part lemonade.

I added all to a jug with  ice cubes and fresh orange slices.

I  toyed with adding strawberries but the punnet was earmarked for vanilla ice cream and crunchy meringues. No contest really.

But what of the wine? Surely I had to use a Spanish wine with this holiday memories drink.

Finca Manzanos Doncella Roja 2012 (£9.99, www.virginwines.co.uk)  is a wine created by people power.  Last autumn Virgin Wines invited customers to help develop a wine with the winemakers by voting on steps along the way such as oaking, the blend, the wine’s name and even the choice of its label.

Winemakers Finca Manzanos followed the votes in the Virtual Winery  and Doncella Roja – The Red Maiden – is the result. The rioja-style wine is a blend of  tempranillo, (70%) and garnacha and has plum, vanilla and spice notes on the nose with  more of the same to taste.

Don’t think I added all the wine to my sangria – oh no, that would be sacrilege!  I Finca Manzanos Doncella Roja 2012, Virgin Winessipped some alongside crispy lamb chops straight off the barbie, with a herb and spice couscous salad.

I‘d voted  in Virgin’s  challenge –  it was fun, with  interesting blogs on winemaking to read along the way – but don’t expect the depth of oaky Spanish reds in this young wine. The sangria, by the way, was a sunshine hit – whether it was a traditional mix, I have no idea.

I was surprised last summer that I really enjoyed Gallo Family Vineyards Moscato with its moreish sweet bundles of peach and orange blossom; lovely on its own or with a slither of cheesecake or perhaps blue cheese.

Now Gallo has unveiled Gallo Family Vineyards Summer White  (RRP £6.99 at all major UK retailers). It is only 5.5% abv – the moscato is 8.75% abv.

It has simple floral aromas and to taste,  pear  and apples – but not much lingering flavour.

Gallo has suggested a summer cocktail of its own; mixing six parts Summer White with one part vodka,  and lemon juice. I only had vodka with a lime twist, and lemonade. You know,  with lots of crushed ice, it was refreshingly tasty.

Also in my glass … a rosé, also from Rioja and made from 100 per cent  tempranillo.

Cune Rosado 2011, (Majestic, £8.99; buy two  bottles and save £4) is an ice cream van man’s juicy fruity raspberry topping  but with an elegant dryness and floral lift.

I’m happy to say I didn’t get any gardening done at the weekend.