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Blog du Vin

Summer Holidays in the UK
by Olly Smith

Huzzah! Summer has brought a glowing treasure trove of outdoor festivals to dive into. During the holidays, these fun-fuelled fiestas are the perfect moment to embrace lighter wines that are fruit-fuelled and delicate rather than earthy and rich - those bigger wines are best saved up for a robust drop on blustery days or to be paired with smoky barbecued fare. Where whites are concerned, Sauvignon Blanc is enjoying a massive surge in popularity from cool classy Sancerre to punchier more tropical bottles from Marlborough in New Zealand such as Mahi which is excellent and brilliant to spot on the Hotel du Vin's list. But for me, Albariño from Spain's green Galician coast is tough to beat in the great outdoors with its peachy gentle refreshment and with the sun beaming whether you're lapping up the delights of Henley or giggling your way through the Edinburgh Festival. Viva vino!

Pairing wine to an occasion or mood can boost your enjoyment to the max when you hit the sweet spot, such as a cool fresh mint Mojito sipped in the shade of a fragrant green garden on a previous day off. If you're heading for the Bristol Balloon Fiesta during the summer holidays with hot air balloons rising like giant bubbles into the sky, a glass of fizz is an awesome way to toast your day out - and if you're feeling in the pink, how about a glass of Champagne Lallier Rosé Premier Cru? Rosé is one of those wines that I adore for its informality and with everything from very pale bone dry rosé to deep pink rosés that are so butch and fruity they're practically red, it pays to pick one that you know will suit your palate. A top all-rounder is the Hotel du Vin's Chateau Bauduc Rosé available by the glass, carafe or bottle which is crisp yet alluringly fruity, perfect to sip on its own al fresco or to pair with a few nibbles - and an absolute treat to sip with a plate of Chorizo and King Prawns Paella to enjoy outdoors. Where reds are concerned, I love my fruity summer glass to be full of flavour without being too full of body - a juicy glass of fragrant Byron Pinot Noir from sunny Santa Barbara  is just the ticket. Or perhaps after a day of gentle exertion punting in Cambridge or taking a dip off Brighton beach you might seek a glass of sheer refreshment; Aspall's Cider is a top summer quencher, or else there's always a perfectly cold and satisfying Pilsner such as Vedett just waiting for you to slowly sip your way through. And if you're like me and hopelessly in love with cricket, you'll be spending your summer glued to Test Match Special and sneaking off to as many matches as you can, glass in hand! But perhaps the ultimate symbol of the British summer sip is a jug of Pimms shared between friends. Embracing the fruity bounty of the summer garden laced with lashings of lemonade, it's as informal as it is enticing. Perfect for settling in to a long day of perfect relaxation in the great outdoors. Cheers!

Follow Olly on Twitter @jollyolly or visit his website for more great wine tips. For Olly Smith wine dinners and events.