Where would we be without our very British Summer picnics? This month we are all about getting outdoors with our picnic blankets and enjoying some delicious picnic fayre with friends. So we asked our resident wine expert, Tori Locke, to share her top recommendations for quintessential English wines that we can pop in our hamper. Over to Tori…
As I sit down to write this it’s just begun to rain, again, and after what seems like a never ending winter, a sun drenched picnic seems like the impossible! But, British we are and picnic we will, even if we do have take a brolly and a rain mac to cover all weather eventualities.
Picnics are quintessentially British, and thankfully over the last decade we’ve branched out from cheese sandwiches, dry scotch eggs and pork pies to more adventurous fayre. Cured meats, cheese boards, delicate asparagus, poached salmon, rich and crumbly quiche and olives are just some of the things that will fill my picnic basket this summery season. This does however bring about a small problem: which wine to pack?! Many of these foods are notoriously tough to pair, even more so when there is such a smorgasbord on offer.
It’s said that if you pair the local cuisine with the local wine you can’t really go wrong, and with English wines becoming more widely available and increasingly delicious (our fizz regularly wins against Champagne in international competitions) it seems the obvious choice! Unfortunately English wine doesn’t often come cheap, production is relatively small at around 5 million bottles per year ( 300 million a year in champagne) and English growers do not receive the tax breaks enjoyed by their European counterparts. That said, if you are willing to spend a few extra pounds on a bottle, you will not be disappointed.
Our homegrown fizz is the best place to start, crisp elegant orchard fruits mix with toasty brioche flavours and a refreshing acidity ensuring that it will compliment even the most exotic of picnics. There are so many to choose from, and most supermarkets will have a good range available. To begin your journey I’d recommend Lyme Bay Winery’s award winning Classic Cuvee Brut £27.99, a wine bursting with flavour and sophistication, one to surely wow your family and friends. For picnics filled with sweet treats and fresh strawberries, I’d most certainly bring along a bottle of Camel Valley Sparkling Pinot Noir £29.99 it is delightfully fragrant and full of moreish red berries. For something a little more unusual Astley Vineyard produce a stunning sparkling Kerner £28, vivacious sherbet lemon delights the senses and will certainly delight your fellow picnic-ers!
As well as sparklers, England also produces wonderful still wines. Fans of Sauvignon Blanc and Chablis will love the crisp, mineral flavours of English Bacchus’ and Chardonnay’s. Tuffon Hall produce one of the best Bacchus £14.50 that I’ve ever had, reminiscent of an English hedgerow in full summer. This is a must try! The Pinot Noir Rosè £14.50 from Tuffon Hall is equally excellent, particularly with lightly spiced coronation chicken, or Moroccan cous cous! Another stunning example comes from Litmus Wines, their exciting Element 20 £20, is a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Bacchus grapes. This is a super food friendly wine, both refreshing and silky with a gorgeous minerality.
I hope this gives you a good place to start your journey into English wines, my recommendations are just a drop in the glass, so be brave and sip English this summer, you won’t regret it!