Wines for summer entertaining should be more about pleasant easy drinking than serious contemplation of costly bottles, and if they offer great value for money, so much the better.
Fizz is always fun and there are many ways to add pizzazz to a bottle of cheap cava or prosecco. There's the Aperol spritz – perhaps replacing the Aperol with Campari (less sweet and more bitter) or an off-dry white vermouth. Or, add a dash of fruity liqueur – crème de cassis (blackcurrant) will make a classic kir, but framboise (raspberry) also works well, as does elderflower cordial. Garnish with a fresh raspberry or mint sprig to add a celebratory flourish.
Bear in mind that long lunches in the sun can be dehydrating, so consider serving drinks that quench the thirst while delivering a gentle hit of alcohol. Mix white wine with ice and soda for a simple spritzer, or make white sangria (more refreshing and less sticky the red wine version). Mix 150ml of triple sec or other orange liqueur with a bottle of wine in a couple of large jugs, add ice, top up with ginger beer and soda, then garnish with fruit and mint.
While many fresh, summery dishes go well with crisp whites, barbecues cry out for something red, especially if meat is involved. Having said that, big, beefy red wines can be a bit soupy in hot weather, so look for something light and serve it slightly chilled – gamay or pinot noir are good bets, or an on-trend frappato from Sicily.
For boozy picnics, glass bottles can be a pain to lug around. Try buying wine in pouches or bag-in-box (bibwine.co.uk and morewine.co.uk have great ranges). Canned wine is really handy too, as it's light to carry and fast to chill. Make sure they’re very cold before you set out and wrap in a damp towel to keep them cool. Everything tastes better out of glass though, so go for IKEA’s Storsint tulip-shaped wine glasses, a bargain at £12 for six.
Five summer wines to try
Bright and herbaceous with a gentle spritz, this is cracking value and versatile enough to serve with many summery dishes.
Groovy biodynamic orange wine made from airen and macabeo grapes fermented with their skins in clay amphorae. Crunchy and slightly nutty, with a tangerine zest.