So many bubbles, so much choice! When we think of sparkling wine familiar names spring to mind. Champagne, prosecco, cava are all fantastic examples of sparkling wines with wonderful reputations and ones which I’ll admit I have quite a soft spot for.
So for this drinks selection on TV3’s Late Lunch I though it would be nice to broaden our sparkling horizons and try 3 new world sparkling wines just to mix it up a bit.
All three wine use traditional champagne grape varieties ( chardonnay and pinot noir) and are either fermented in the traditional method, meaning second fermentation ( the one the makes the bubbles) happens in the bottle, or second fermented in tank. Obviously the traditional method requires more time space and skill so commands a higher price tag than the more hands off larger scale tank method in which the second fermentation happens in pressure controlled stainless steel tanks.
The traditionally method produced a finer mouse with tiny bubbles. The tank method is considered a little less refined but still can produce very drinkable and affordable sparkling wines.
Wine 1 Cono Sur Brut from Bio-Bio in Chile, produced using the tank method
Approx. 93% Chardonnay, 7% Pinot
RSP €18.99 widly available
Wine 2 Croser Vintage, 2007 from Adelaide Hills,Australia,
Pinot noir, Chardonnay ( approx 70% 30% but its vintage dependant)
The fizz of choice on Home and Away!
Its a little trickier to find, Next door off-licences carry it and a few other good wine shops.
Wine 3 Graham Beck Brut from the Western Cape in South Africa
Approx. 53% Chardonnay, 47% Pinot
This is made via the Method Cap Classique – i.e. the Champagne method, so the 2nd fermentation (the one for the bubbles) happens in bottle
It’s been used in the inaugurations of both Nelson Mandela and Barak Obama!
Sangria is a drink that always reminds me of summers in Spain. It’s really lovely and easy to bring a taste of Spanish holidays home, the hardest part is chopping of fruit! The nice part is you can really make something unique by using any fruit the you fancy. I like white peaches, cherries, apple, orange and lemons but you can mix and match as you like maybe adding strawberries, peaches, mango, grapefruit or raspberries. Frozen grapes make a lovely addition too and help keep the sangria nice and chilled.
Step one is to chop your chosen fruit and sprinkle with some sugar to bring out the sweetness as the wine is served cold this extra sweetness helps balance the tannins in red wine and counter the acid of white wines. If your fruit is tart or not full of ripe sweetness, you may need a sprinkle more sugar, use your judgement. I would recommend using a wine that you actually like to drink. If it’s not palatable no amount of fruit will help, so choose something that’s tasty enough to drink on its own.
You can also add a splash ( a table spoon or two) of orange liquor, brandy or spiced rum if you have it to you fruit mix for a little extra flavour.
Here are 3 options for you to try using a red wine, a white wine and a sparkling.
I decided to use wine from Torres. They make some incredible wines but also some simple delicious easy drinking and reasonable wines too. Torres is Ireland’s number one selling Spanish wine brand to so I know it’s popular and easy to pick up. I choose Vina Sol for the white sangria and Sangre de Toro for the red. My pick for the sparkling is Freixenet Cava, a favourite since visiting the vineyard a number of years ago.
I’m blaming the sunshine for this weeks drinks topic. That and the fact that I have a summer cold. A summer cold is one of those anomalous things, a seasonal mismatch. I imaging people who grew up in the Northern hemisphere feel similarly about celebrating christmas at the height of southern hemisphere summer! I know well how to make myself feel better in dreary November; lots of tea spiked with honey, ginger and whiskey usually does the trick, strictly prescribed hot water bottles, slippers and some of those posh balsam tissues and regular doses of over the counter remedies. In June and in this heat wave I find myself all at sea; never one to mope around I just had to figure out other ways to make me feel a bit better and so I though of vitamin C packed lemons and that made me think of lemonade: homemade, honest, lemonade.
Cold or no cold, I love this time of year especially when the air is heavy with blossoms and the sky is blue. This is perfect lemonade weather and jam-packed with immune boosting cold thwarting vitamin C it’s just the tonic. It is also a delightful alternative to commercial fizzy drinks and is a delicious children’s treat. I make up this lemon concentrate and keep it in the fridge and then add still or sparkling water when serving. You can also make a much more grown up version by adding a splash of vodka or top it up with sparkling wine or even ice cold beer…. yum. It only takes a few minutes to squeeze the lemons, you have no excuse!
Homemade Cloudy Lemonade to make approx 1 liter
Juice of 3 lemons
225ml simple syrup (a 1/4 cup of sugar to 2/3 cup of water, bring to the boil until clear and let cool)
700ml still or sparkling water or sparkling wine
Mix all ingredients together in a large jug filled with ice, or mix the lemon juice with the simple syrup and leave it in the fridge and add still or sparkling water or sparkling wine when every you want some.
Next on my list of fab summer drinks is ice tea
A couple of years ago I spent a month in Savannah Georgia. Savannah sighs in the sunshine and is all sundowners on verandahs while curled up on porch swings sipping never-ending sweet tea. Considering we have such a love of tea in Ireland I find it hard to believe we haven’t embraced ice tea, and not the pre bottles sugar laden variety. Below is my recipe for perfect ice tea best served fresh brewed but will keep for a few days in in fridge. I adore tea in all shapes and forms but my go to everyday tea is Barry’s Gold blend. I love Barry’s tea so much I’ve bought personalised boxes of tea for all my family. I’m also a big fan of the fact that it is blended in Ireland by master tea blender Denis Daly and has a history of tea blending since 1901. Obviously tea doesn’t grow in Ireland but Barry’s is really the closest thing we have to a truly Irish tea and check out their website for tea related gifts they have a great range of “TEA”- shirts!
I like my ice tea not too sweet and with some mint and lemon. It’s also great with a slice of orange and a dash or two of whiskey or bourbon or if you are one for milky tea why not try it over vanilla ice cream?
1 pot strong Barry’s tea
Brown sugar to taste
Fresh mint and lemon slices to serve
Lots of ice
I add the sugar while the tea is still hot so it disolves. Then if I have time I let this get cold, if not I pour it straight over lots of ice to chill it and add mint and lemon…yum!
Beer o’clock? more like beer o’cocktail!
The world of beer cocktails is pretty new to me. At the Alltech International Craft Brews and Food Fair earlier this year I tasted a couple of JW Sweetman’s concoctions which didn’t rock my world. But the week before last I tasted a really fun take on a French 75 topped up with Blue Moon Summer Honey Wheat rather than champagne at House in Dublin made by Des McCann and this got me thinking about beer cocktails again. I think the trick is not to be too fancy and to work with flavours that you know go together so I came up with this recipe below. Ginger beer is a classic old school drink that I have often made at home. My grandmother used to make it for me when I was little and I was enthralled by the ritual of feeding the ginger beer plant and the magic of fermentation that results in bubbles. This take on ginger beer lets someone else do the brewing for you and the ginger and lime and beer combination is super refreshing!
Give it a go and let me know what you think!
Beer Ginger cocktail
juice of half a lime
1/2 inch piece of fresh root ginger grated finely
splash of brown sugar syrup ( 1 cup brown sugar to 2 cups water heated until its clear, then leave to cool)
My resident beer sommelier suggests Carlsberg is a good easy to get macro brewery choice, Peroni brings a little more citrus to the party and grolsch would be a good choice too!
Mix lime juice and ginger with the syrup, strain over ice and top up with beer!
Disclaimer: I taste lots of drinks at trade events and I am always looking for stand-out great products with interesting stories that I can pass on to you lovely readers and viewers. Along side theses tastings I also buy lots of things that tickle my fancy. I taste and select the products I want to feature on Late Lunch and here on my website. For or the purposes of my television slot, I request product samples to use on air. I aim to maintain my objectivity, I am guided only by my taste buds and I am not paid to endorse particular products.