The gleam of holiday sun shines through this season’s bountiful produce and if we can’t fly off to the Greek islands or the wild hills of Italy – not just yet, anyway – then perhaps we can drink some of their wines instead.
Summer whites used to mean a slightly flat choice between pinot grigio and sauvignon blanc. Now we can choose to sip falanghina (reminiscent of sunny clementines) from Italy; honey-kissed godello from Spain; and savour the lemony glint of whites from Crete or the grapefruity sting of assyrtiko from Santorini.
One of my favourite summery whites is on as good a form as ever. Torres Viña Esmeralda 2017 Spain (£9, Tesco) is made from aromatic muscatel and gewürztraminer, grown in the cool of the mountains near Barcelona. All you need with a cold glass of it is a plate of garlicky, lemony hot prawns and a fresh tomato salad.
The faintly herbal, citrussy backdrop of refreshing whites such as vernaccia, verdicchio or cortese (used to make gavi), or whites from Crete, goes really well with light vegetarian food, chicken or fish flavoured with green herbs or slightly bitter leaves. Our spring greens spanakopita or spring tarts with watercress salsa verde and whipped lemon feta would be delicious with this type of white.
Try Gavi di Gavi 2017 Italy (£6.99, Aldi) for a more citrussy white, or Taste the Difference Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi 2017 Italy (£7.50, Sainsbury’s) for a wine that’s more on the green, topiary side of things. This is more of a staycation wine than one for exotic shores, but while we’re talking watercress, The Society’s English White 2016 (£7.95, The Wine Society), is very good. Made by the Three Choirs vineyard in Gloucestershire, it tastes of grass, hawthorns and papaya.
I usually open a bottle of red to go with sausages, but the honey and orange juice in our chicory, sausage and black olive polenta tart led me towards an orange-scented white – Janare La Guardiense Falanghina del Sannio 2016 Italy (£8, Booths).
Has rosé season started yet? If there’s a hot weekend, you may be tempted by a pale pink from Provence. Aldi’s Exquisite Collection Côtes de Provence Rosé 2017 (£6.49) is perfect to wash down a fennel, potato and lemon pissaladière.
Finally, warmer weekends need a mightier white: I’m thinking new wave Australian chardonnay with warm, toasty flavours and rapier gleams of lemon. Look no further than Xanadu Exmoor Chardonnay 2016 (£11.99, Majestic). Its nuttiness is ideal with the hazelnut and spelt pastry in our broccoli & cauliflower cheese galette.
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Victoria Moore is an award-winning wine columnist and author. Her new book, The Wine Dine Dictionary (£20, Granta), is out now.