In the pink for salad days

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WINE:Looking for something light to suit the mellow days and long nights? Try a glass of rosé, a sparkling wine such as cava, or an Australian pink. They can put a stretch into your euro as well as the evenings

OVER THE NEXT few weeks, I will be covering summer wines. Other than sparkling wines, all will cost less than €15 a bottle, and under €12 where possible. For the most part, I have tried to select lighter wines that are suitable for drinking by themselves or with light meals.

It is only right that when holidaying in Ireland we should try to buy local. However, if you know your off-licence has an unexciting and over-priced range of wine, why not buy online or by mail order? It will allow you to choose from a far more interesting range of wines. You could also have it delivered to your door. Most wine merchants offer a mail-order service, and at this stage, most have websites as well.

My own favourites include The Wine Store in Kildare (great for French and Spanish wines), Wines Direct in Mullingar (which has a retail outlet just off the motorway), and Le Caveau in Kilkenny, but there are plenty of others too, including Wineonline, Red Nose Wine, Curious Wines, the Corkscrew and Simply Wines.

Now that we have a burgeoning micro-beer market, you can buy really good local beer in many parts of the country. See beoir.org for a list of brewers and stockists. You could even give the brewery a call to see if they accept visitors.

Bottles of the week

ROSÉ WINES

Domaine de Millet 2010, Cótes de Gascogne IGP, 11.5%, €9.35A lovely fragrant strawberry nose, with ample sweet, juicy ripe strawberries on the palate. A great crowd-pleasing wine for sunny days. Stockists: Wines Direct, Mullingar, winesdirect.ie

Le Petit Berticot Rosé, Merlot 2010, IGP Atlantique 12.5% €10.50A delightful fruit-filled rosé with a crisp, dry finish. Great easy summer drinking on its own or with salads and seafood. Stockists: Claudios Wines, Newtownmountkennedy; Ardkeen, Waterford; Marlay Wine Shop, Rathfarnham; Listons, Camden Street, Dublin; Nectar, Sandyford; Cashel Wine Cellar, Cashel; Next Door Outlets, nationwide; Mac’s, Limerick; 1601, Kinsale; The Wine Centre, Kilkenny

Santa Digna Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé 2010, Central Valley, Chile, 13.5%, €11.99A rosé with a bit of attitude and fruit, perfect for barbecued fish or chicken dishes. The strawberry and raspberry fruits are nicely balanced by some fresh acidity in this medium-bodied wine. Stockists: Donnybrook Fair; Ardkeen, Waterford; O’Driscoll’s, Ballinlough, Cork; Fresh, Northern Cross; Conway’s, Ratoath; Sláinte, Galway; O’Sullivan’s, Blarney; Bradley’s, North Main Street, Cork; Molloys Liquor Stores; Jus de Vine, Portmarnock; Next Door Off Licences and other independent off licences

Petit Bourgeois Rose 2010, Loire Valley, 12.5%, €11.99A delicious pinot noir rosé that is pure summer in a glass. Light, fresh delicate strawberry and redcurrant fruits with a crisp acidity and dry finish. Just the thing with a plate of seafood. Stockists: O’Briens

Domaine la Sarabande 2010, Faugères Rosé, 12.5%, €13.95This very charming wine has a delicate nose of strawberries and lovely medium to light-weight ripe cherry fruits. It is restrained, long and dry. A very flavoursome southern rosé to drink with or without anything else. Stockists: Redmonds of Ranelagh; The Wine Store, thewinestore.ie

SPARKLING WINES

Yellowglen Pink, Australian Sparkling Rosé NV, 11%, €14.39I am told that females between the ages of 20 and 30 find Pink irresistible. I haven’t had the opportunity to test this, but if you want to impress someone in this age group, maybe you should give it a try. Light, medium-dry with creamy strawberry fruits. Stockists: Tesco; Supervalu; Dunnes Stores; Liz Delaneys, Northside Shopping Centre, Dublin; Worldwide Wines, Waterford; Joyces, Knocknacarra

Les Bulles, Touraine Sparkling Brut 2006, Jean-François Mérieau, 13%, €19.50Made from chenin blanc and aged for three years on the lees, this is a cracking bottle of wine at the price: rich, complex, with plenty of brioche and bready notes to complement the exotic peaches and lightly honeyed touch. You could certainly drink it on its own, but I would imagine this would be even better served with a wide variety of dishes, including fish and crustaceans, but also salads and more substantial fare. Stockists: Terroirs, Donnybrook, terroirs.ie

Crémant d’Alsace Brut Extra NV, Domaine Meyer-Fonné, 12%, €19.95Alsace produces some excellent sparkling wine, made by the traditional Champagne method. This wine, made from a blend of pinot blanc, chardonnay and pinot noir is bone dry with just two grammes of residual sugar. It is a very stylish wine, with a lightly bready nose, wonderful clean crisp citrus acidity, balanced perfectly by some lovely ripe fruit. It is streets ahead of most Champagne at this price. Stockists: Redmonds of Ranelagh; Fallon Byrne, Exchequer Street; Le Caveau, Kilkenny, lecaveau.ie

Cava Castellroig, Penedes, Spain, 11.5%, €20I am not normally a fan of cava, but this really impressed me: very superior, clean pineapple and pear fruits with a crisp dry finish. Not the cheapest cava on the market, but a class above the rest, and pretty good value as a sparkling wine. Stockists: On the Grapevine, Dalkey, onthegrapevine.ie; Cabot Co, Westport, cabotandco.com

Beer of the week

Eight Degrees Howling Gale Ale, 5%, €2.39 for a 33cl bottleFrom a brand new Irish micro-brewery in Mitchelstown comes this fairly full-flavoured ale, with a broad maltiness on the mid palate and a nice, refreshing, crisp hoppy finish. This has plenty of flavour and certainly avoids the temptation to dumb down to please drinkers of watery lager.

Lughnasa Beer Festival

The second Lughnasa Beer Festival will take place on August 19th from 5.30pm to 10.30pm in the Pod bar complex in Dublin. More than 300 beers, including a host of Irish micro-brews, imported beers and other treats will be available for tasting, along with food from artisan producers and live music from the Cujo Family and the Folksmen. A limited number of tickets at €20 are available at beerfestival.ie.

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