Summer pink wines to enjoy while the sun is out (or when it rains)

AS its summer,  I suggest you grab some summer pink wines,  glasses and head to your nearest park, picnic basket in hand.

And as its summer, don’t forget the umbrella.

Some people view pink wines as flim flam, never to be touched.

One or two wines here may convince you otherwise. But first, do you know how they’re made?

All grape juice is clear; red wine is made by the juice having contact with the skins. If the juice doesn’t have skin contact, then you’ll get a white wine. In fact, did you know the black grapes pinot noir and pinot meunier are used to make champagne? But champagne is a white wine – that’s because the juice didn’t come into contact with the grape skins.

And so it is with rosé; there are pale pinks, medium pinks and really deep cerise pinks. There are three ways to make rosé, and by far the most common is by the juice having contact with the skin. The paler the rosé, the less time the skins and the juices have been in contact.

Different grape varieties are used, driven by the native grapes of the region. There are grenache, tempranillo and pinot noir to name but a few.

The classiest (and driest) pinks are rosés from Provence where ex-pat winemaker Stephen Cronk and his Mirabeau range is rapidly making a name for itself. Mirabeau Classic (£9.29, Waitrose stores and www.waitrosecellar.com) is dreamy with its strawberry-fresh blend of grenache, cinsault and syrah.

But then, hold on, I tried Mirabeau Pure (£12.99, also Waitrose). Everything about this wine is sublime.

From the simple bottle design to the sun-glinted springwater-fresh wine as it pours. This is a blend of syrah and grenache, and is the palest of pinks, with gorgeous aromas of fresh and dried strawberries, a subtle hint of rhubarb and perfectly balanced flavours and acidity.

One of my favourite online wine retailers is winetrust100 because they stock what they say on the tin – 100 wines – all of which are selected by Masters of Wine.

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I adored Rosa dei Frati 2014 (£16, winetrust100.co.uk). It is from Italy, and is blended from a selection of Italian grapes, groppello, marzemino, sangiovese, and barbera. The masters of wine give this a score of 96 out of 100 and it’s not difficult to see why. From the first aromas to the last sip, this is a pink with character – perhaps a wolf in sheep’s clothing!

But it doesn’t bite; red cherry flavours toy with your tastebuds alongside a vibrant acidity.

To the High Street… and keep a look-out for Aldi’s easy-drinking Exquisite Collection Malbec Rosé (£5.99) (a bronze in this year’s International Wine Challenge) and Villa Maria Private Bin Rosé 2014 (RRP £10.25, Tesco, Majestic and independents).

Also in my glass:

Gallo Family Vineyards has a new spritz duo – Gallo Family Vineyards Spritz Pineapple & Passionfruit and Gallo Family Vineyards Spritz Raspberry & Lime.

The Pineapple and Passionfruit is not over-sweet and when really cold, with one or two cubes of ice, it refreshes quite nicely.

In contrast, I added a slice of lime and plenty of ice to the raspberry and lime to counter the sweetness. Both have an ABV of 5% – if you don’t want to over-indulge – and are available in all major supermarkets (RRP £5.99).

Published in the saturday extra magazine July 25, 2015

Liverpool Echo – South Wales Echo – Daily Post Wales – Huddersfield Examiner – The Chronicle, Newcastle – Teesside Evening Gazette – Birmingham  Mail – Coventry Telegraph – Paisley Daily Express