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Summer Wines for the ‘New Normal’

The ‘new normal’ has meant that many of us have had our summer travel plans cancelled. I was planning to visit vineyards in Greece and southern France but it’s not going to happen. However, you can enjoy the sense of travel through the wines from popular summer destinations around Europe.

What makes a good wine for summer? It can be red, white or rosé, the key is that the wine should be light, refreshing, with ripe fruit flavours and a character that reflects the region where it is from.

If you are planning a trip in Spain, a very popular destination is Galicia. The grape that we associate with Galicia is Albariño but if you are curious to try something different look out for wines with the local varieties Treixadura and Godello. These wines are quite different from Albariño and are ideal to accompany the local cuisine.

Another popular tourist destination is to visit Ribera del Duero, known mainly for its full bodied reds but given the high level of oak they are not my favourites for the summer. However, there are some attractive white wines made from the Albillo grape. They are not that well known outside the region but definitely worth checking out. The word that best describes the wines I have tasted is ‘unctious’.

Southern France is a favourite destination for wine lovers from Spain and in the Languedoc you can find perfect summer wines. One that comes to mind is Picpoul de Pinet, a local wine from vineyards that can be found in a triangle between Agde, Pézenas and Sète overlooking the Golf of Lyon, a very picturesque setting. This wine is refreshing and ideal for seafood.

Another popular destination is Greece. Many of the restaurants in the popular islands will have the local wine called ‘retsina’, which once tried is not to be repeated but don’t assume all Greek wines are like this. In fact Greece has hundreds of indigenous varieties with names that are very challenging to remember. One of my favourite grapes is Assyrtiko, especially from the Santorini and from Northern Greece. It is the Greek equivalent of Albariño.

If you may have planned a trip to Italy this summer you can enjoy the taste of Italy from your own home by popping open a bottle of Pecorino from the Marche region of eastern Italy. Another local grape variety that goes great with Italian food. Many Italian wine are notable for their high level of acidity, a key factor in making them good food wines. The Pecorino grape produces wines that are smooth and very easy to drink.

Austria is a beautiful country to visit in the summer, but not this one. However, have you ever tried the local red grape variety Zweigelt? It is very popular, especially during the summer. It has flavours of ripe black cherries and it is low in tannin, which makes it an ideal red wine to serve chilled with a wide selection of summer dishes.

We cannot forget Portugal where there are so many wines to choose, from the Algarve in the south to Vinho Verde in the north. The Alvarinho that you can find in Portugal is distinctive from the Albariño you find Rias Baixas. Definitely worth trying to get a flavour of Portugal.

If you would like to know where to find wines made from these grapes get in contact.

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I am a Northern Irishman based in Valencia. My career in wine began more than three decades ago, in London. I am the founder of TheWinePlace.es, an online store, where wine enthusiasts can enjoy a selection of international wines and Verde Marte, a company dedicated to exporting Spanish wines. Also, Thewineplace.courses, an "approved program provider" of the courses of the prestigious WSET. I share my passion for wines through my media work writing weekly columns for the Spanish newspaper El Mundo and 5 Barricas, an online wine magazine.

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