Gusbourne Blanc de Blancs English sparkling wine

Raise a Glass: National Picnic Week wines and a delicious English fizz


The Raise a Glass feature is published every week. Here’s one from June where I looked at some ideas for National Picnic Week, English Wine Week and some cocktail ideas. The weeks have been and gone … but the drinks’ inspiration remains!

There’s much to sip and celebrate in the wine world at this time of year, even if we have to forego Wimbledon’s strawberries and fizz.

I’ll be sharing an alfresco socially-distanced morsel or two (and a glass of wine) with a friend for National Picnic Week (June 22-28).

And as good things seem to happen all at once, the very same week sees us celebrating English Wine Week (from June 20).

In a fit of Googling I’ve discovered that it’s National Pink Day on June 23rd. I don’t know why, and I haven’t asked.

I’ve put all those celebrations together and come up with some sipping thoughts.

Pinks and picnic week

It can be a challenge carrying around full size bottles of wine for a picnic.

More half bottle solutions are coming on the market, not least a lovely little white, Louis Jadot Macon Blanc Villages 2018 (£5.75, or two for £9 in Morrisons). It delivers just enough of slightly creamy apples and pears to bring a perfectly-formed smile to your face as you sit under a tree.

A pocket-sized pink champagne is perfect at your longed-for meeting of friends.  Taittinger Rosé NV (RRP £28.85 for a half bottle, says summer, happiness and celebrations.

You may not be able to give your friends a hug, but this elegant fizz, dotted with red fruits and berries, will deliver a virtual one.

Prophecy Rosé for National Picnic Week
Prophecy Rosé has a goddess-themed label

It leads me nicely onto two pinks. Prophecy Rosé (RRP £10, Asda and Tesco) has a pretty conversation-starter label, inspired by the Goddess of Fortune in Tarot cards. The wine is a blend of French grapes and they deliver a happy summertime compote of strawberries and raspberries with a zest of citrus.

The Ned Rosé 2019 (£12.99 at Majestic, or £8.49 in a buy six deal) is a lush, deep characterful pink from Marlborough, New Zealand. The nose is ripe with rich summer yummy pudding fruits. It has just a nudge of pepper in the mouth, which is flighty alongside lush strawberries.

English Wine Week

This year English Wine Week can’t offer all the hands-on tastings and vineyard explorations as in previous years. But what it can do is open your eyes to the majesty of English and Welsh wines.

I sipped Gusbourne Blanc de Blancs 2015 and I’ll just say this. Divine.

It is Gusbourne’s flagship wine, crafted from chardonnay grown in Kent vineyards. It is aged for around four years before being released to market. I lost myself in notes of white peach, toast, green apples and conference pear.

The wine is RRP £59 from independent retailers, or online from

Follow #EnglishWineWeek and #NationalPicnicWeek on social media

A little cocktail news …

If you’ve been following my lockdown missives, you’ll know I’ve been exploring cocktails. I’ve discovered they don’t have to be complicated; and the simplest of ingredients can make a world of difference.

I’ve made my own sugar syrup; I’ve pressed the juice out of so many limes my lime squeezer has developed muscles; and I’ve shaken lots of things with ice.

I’ve had fun!

I was interested to see that Monin – creator of over 100 syrups for cocktails and coffees  – is running online mixology masterclasses.

Catch up over at

They’re perfectly timed to help us be cocktail-y creative.

First published in over 30 regional newspapers including:
Hull Daily Mail – Leicester Mercury – Cambridge News – Liverpool Echo South Wales Echo – Daily Post Wales –  Huddersfield Examiner – The Chronicle, Newcastle  – Teesside Gazette – Birmingham Mail – Coventry Telegraph  – Paisley Daily Express 

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