Archive for August, 2017

Fun in The Sun!

From Bury Magazine July 2017

Can there be anything better than lounging around outdoors on a beautiful sunny day with a bottle of something cool, refreshing, and gorgeous chinking in an ice bucket? Having moved on from the days of youth when Summer drinking meant sitting in the park with a warm can of lager and perhaps a tepid rose (probably Mateus) for the girls. The key words now are quality not quantity, and that goes for beer and spirits not just wines. But as we’ve said many times before, quality doesn’t have to mean expensive. So we’ll be looking at some of the trendy drinks to be seen imbibing this Summer which won’t break the bank!

Wine blogs and websites in the US are full of the phrase ‘Brose’ these days and proclaim slogans like ‘I wish my boyfriend was man enough to drink rose’. In Europe there’s never been a stigma about men drinking rose. It’s treated as a proper wine not as an affectation, and there are some great rose wines around to buy in the UK at the moment. A rose is a type of wine that incorporates some of the colour from black grape skins, but not enough to qualify it as a red wine. It can be made from many grape varieties and tends to be made wherever both red and white wines are produced as separate wines. Rose wine makers from Bordeaux therefore produce Merlot & Cabernet Sauvignon roses, Spanish Rosado can be Grenache and Tempranillo, Italian Rosato may be Sangiovese, while rose from Argentina is made from Malbec. You get what we mean. Most of them are rarely expensive so give them a try. Traditionally THE place to get rose wine from is Provence in France. However, be warned, there are some shockers around from here too! The main grape varieties used here are Cinsault, Mouvedre and Grenache, but there are others. The real key is to get them when they are young, so definitely buy 2016 vintage Provence roses to drink this Summer. If money isn’t an issue then seek out one from the Bandol AOC region (Majestic Wines Domaines Ott Chateau Romassan Rose 2016 is fantastic but it is £30 a bottle!), but there’s plenty of good value roses to buy from other areas of Provence too. We’ve mentioned Thos Peatlings  Chateau des Bormettes Instinct Parcellaire Rose before, Decanter Magazine voted it one of the worlds top-10 roses and it’s half the price of the Bandol! A less expensive recommendation is Waitroses Esprit de Buganay Rose (£9.99), a pale pink rose with a great taste helped by the inclusion of Syrah grapes.

If white wine is more your thing then try wines that grow in areas with a warmer, what we call a ‘Summer’ climate. Italy produces great regional wines made from local grape varieties. On a recent trip to Sicily we were impressed with wines made on the volcanic slopes of Etna, but they are difficult to find here. What is available however is Sicilian wine made from the Grillo grape. Wonderfully fresh flavours with a minerally dry acidity. The Wine Society’s Grillo Terre Siciliane Vino Biologico Paolini 2016 is great value at £6.50 or the even better value Castellore Grillo/Sauvignon Blanc blend from Aldi at an amazing £4.99

But in 2017 Summer drinking isn’t all about wine. For the first time in many years beer production in the UK has risen, and it’s not down to the big brewers of traditional British beer. Microbreweries and ‘craft beers’ are leading a revolution in beer production. Exactly what makes a beer ‘craft’ is difficult to answer. Generally it is beer made in a traditional way by a small producer, but it’s also agreed that there is something innovative about them too, particularly added ingredients such as herbs, different specialist hops, fruits and other things (beer made with bacon anyone?)  At first it was the very hop-heavy IPA producers who led the way, Scotland’s Brew Dog brewery being one of the most successful with their Punk IPA and numerous seasonal beers. Now most supermarkets have a craft beer section and we heartily recommend trying beers from Brew Dog, Brooklyn Brewery, Goose Island and others this Summer. If these and other European beer styles are your thing then you can’t miss a trip to the fabulous Beautiful Beers in St Johns St, Bury, a heaven for beer drinkers!

Spirits have also been the big deal in the drinks world in the past couple of years, particularly the growth of gin. It used to be a selection of three or four gins available but now there’s ‘craft’ gins galore and they are all very different. Gin has to be juniper-flavoured initially, but after that anything goes. Our personal favourite (this week anyway!) is Pink Pepper Gin from France, but we also like Monkey 47 Gin from Germany (both widely available but try Gourmet Goods also in St Johns St, Bury for a good selection). And did you know that Bury has its own Gin distillery? The Stillery ‘Speakeasy-style’ bar in Short Brackland, Bury, not only serves great gins from around the world put produces its own gin on-site. You can see the still from the bar and it’s great fun! And course, it must be Fevertree tonic to go with it!

With its Caribbean heritage, it’s little wonder that when the sun’s out, the rum’s out! Another spirit that has enjoyed a renaissance (a rum-revolution if you like), rum not only tastes great on its own with ice but it’s fantastic for mixing too. Mojito’s or Dark & Stormy’s are just right for a Summer sundowner! While Scotch Whisky sales drop in this country, its American Whiskey or Bourbon that are becoming more popular with the younger crowd. They are a bit sweeter than Scotch, which like rum makes them good for mixing. Try something different though from the usual Jack Daniels and Jim Beam. If you want it on its own try Woodfords Reserve, more like a malt whisky, but if its a mixing bourbon you want then try Four Roses, a self-proclaimed craft bourbon from Kentucky. It was the house bourbon at last months Red Rooster festival in Suffolk and went down a storm!

Whatever your drinking this Summer try it outdoors, we guarantee that it will taste better!