Alternatives to Rosé this Summer

Words – Sinéad Smyth

“Rosé all day” and “it’s rosé season” are the phrases du jour coming into the summer months. Social media is awash with pale Provencal rosés and a kaleidoscope of pastel pinks and deep ruby rose blushes. While rosé doesn’t get the same recognition as its white and red counterparts there is much to adore about this tipple.

However, I don’t believe in a sole season for rosé or any wine as a matter of fact. If it’s mid-winter and I fancy a glass of pink you best believe I’ll pour a generous one, and a chilled Beaujolais in summer can be a thing of beauty. As such, I’ve put a list together of alternatives to rosé this summer for those who want to shake up their palate this season.

Celler 9+, Mèdol Selecció Garnatxa Ancestral Pet Nat

Minimal intervention is the name of the game at Celler 9+. Here the wines are made without any additives, preservatives or added sulphites in the region of La Nou de Gaià, Tarragona. The vineyard practices organic farming and its terroir is influenced by its proximity to the Mediterranean Sea.

La Nou de Gaià is located on top of a hill in the region of Biax Gaià. The vineyard is 35 hectares, 17 of which are under vine, and the remaining consist of olive groves, carob trees and other crops. They grow local traditional varieties including Macabeo, Xarel·lo, Sumoll and Carthusian. Previously winemaker Moisés Virgili Rovira studied oenology and agri-food engineering, and after working in vineyards throughout the world opened his own winery, Cellar 9+. Available at Boutique Wines.

Le Petit Canon

Killian is a familiar face to most on the wine scene from slinging bottles at Neighbourhood Wine, to his most recent position at Grape Circus, with the ringmaster himself Enrico Fantasia. After working the harvest at Les Deux Cols a number of times, in 2021 Killian Horan released his first expression Le Charlatan, a Syrah, Grenache and Viognier blend. Only 420 bottles of this rarity were produced (yours truly got her hands on one) and it was a hit with winos in the know.

Under the Charlatan Wines umbrella this year Killian brings us Le Petit Canon, a low alcohol, 11.64% to be exact, blend of Syrah, Clairette Rose and Bourboulenc. This low alcohol bottle is ideal for back garden BBQs and summer sipping when you don’t want a throbbing head the next morning. Available at Grape Circus, Station to Station, Sweeneys, Loose Canon, Lennox St Grocer, Greenville Deli & Sheridan’s Galway.

Kinsale Hazy Summer Mead

At 11% this is another fantastic option if you’re seeking a low alcohol tipple this summer. Made in the heart of Kinsale, Co.Cork by husband-and-wife team Kate and Denis Dempsey, Kinsale Mead is Ireland’s first meadery in over 200 years. The pair are incredibly passionate about mead and are breathing new life into this historic drink, experimenting with ageing the mead in port and merlot barrels.

If you’re planning a trip to Cork this year make sure a tour of the meadery is on the agenda, where you’ll learn about the drink beloved by Ireland’s Celtic kings and chieftains, the mead-making process and get to sample these award-winning beverages. Hazy Summer Mead is a light and fruity honey wine bursting with blackcurrant, blackberries, and cherries. Drink on its own, chilled in on a warm summer’s day, or get creative and try a Celtic Mead Sangria Cocktail. It’s also amazing with food. Available at Kinsale Mead, Martin’s Off-Licence, Wine Online, Bubble Brothers.

Wicklow Wolf Raindrop Mixed Berry Sour

Sometimes you need to revert to the classics, and when the summer hits a cold beer is the way to go. We’re big fans of the entire range from Wicklow Wolf, keenly keeping an eye out for their special limited-edition brews too. On a recent visit to their shiny new taproom, we tasted Raindrop Mixed Berry Sour. Sour beers might not be everyone’s cuppa, but when you fancy a beer but crave a fruity kick for the summer months this is ideal.

Full to the brim with blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries Wicklow Wolf describes this as “lip-smacking”. It’s crisp and tart with a little sweetness. We’d be wrong not to give a major shout-out to their Tundra Tropical IPA….holy moly. Mangoes, pineapple, and grapefruit jump on your palate. We haven’t stopped drinking this in months. Visit the brewery/taproom where you can buy growlers of fresh beer on tap, even better keep your empty growler and enjoy refills for just €15. Available at Wicklow Wolf, O’Briens, Molloy’s and other stockists.

Valentia Island Vermouth

Another couple teaming up to bring you brilliant Irish beverages are Anna and Orla Snook O’Carroll, the wife-and-wife duo behind ÓR Valentia Island Vermouth. The pair moved to Valentia Island in 2018 where they forage local ingredients, including the bright yellow flower gorse, to make up the 20 botanicals that are in each bottle of vermouth.

Once macerated the botanicals are mixed with Verdejo wine to create the final blend. Enjoy over ice with a slice of orange, with a refreshing tonic or try your hand at an array of cocktails like Negroni, Martini or Manhattan. Available at Celtic Whiskey Shop.

Lustau En Ramo Fino Sherry

The Sherry Revolution is coming! Or at least I keep saying it is. In Ireland, we can’t seem to shake the idea of a dusty old bottle hidden deep in your Granny’s cupboard as the only sherry around. Wake up folks, there’s a world of delicious styles of Sherry, and like Cinderella and her slipper you just gotta find the one that fits. Now I’m a ‘LOAS’ aka a ‘Lover of all Sherries’, and no style is off-limits for me, but in particular, when the summer months hit a chilled glass of Fino or Manzanilla sherry is divine. Lustau is a renowned name in the world of sherry and I suggest you pick up a bottle of their En Rama Fino and get sipping.

Sherry works incredibly well with foods, and fino in particular is amazing with ‘picky bits’ like jamón, almonds, cheese and a whole heap of other stuff. If you’ve outdoor space at home crack open the fino, make a food spread and pretend you’re in Spain soaking up some Meditteranean sunshine. If you’re interested in learning more about sherry, International Sherry Week is taking place from 7th – 13th November 2022. Available at Mitchell and Sons.

Taylor’s Chip Dry White Port

Taylor’s history dates back to 1692 and its reputation has gone from strength to strength throughout the years. Like sherry, port sometimes gets a bad rep, and can be dismissed as a drink of the past. But on the contrary, it’s incredibly versatile, whether you’re sipping it straight as an apéritif, in a refreshing white port and tonic or blended in a cocktail. The main grape variety in this blend is Malvasia Fina, grown in the Douro Superior region of Portugal. Serve with salted almonds, olives and hard cheeses for a tasty snack this summer.

They’ve even gone down the canned wine route and now offer port and tonic in cans, although I haven’t spotted them in Ireland yet. Available at Wine Online.

Ramona Spritz

You may have seen this beautifully designed brand around before, but their newest flavour is fresh off the line. Ramona Amarino is a wine spritz containing organic grapes, citrus and botanicals. If you want to enjoy a drink with the gang but don’t want to compromise on health and flavour Ramona is a win-win. At just 90 per can it’s low calorie, low alcohol at 5% per can, contains no added sugar and is gluten-free. Its canned packaging means it’s a more # alternative to heavy glass bottles and is perfect for picnics, festivals or on-the-go sipping. Available at WineLab.

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