Want to know more about alfresco drinking? Read our expert guide, then check out our guides on the best port, best sparkling wine, best champagne and best mixed case wines to buy.


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.

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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

Ponte de Lima Vinho Verde 2021, £6.95, The Wine Society

Bright and herbaceous with a gentle spritz, this is cracking value and versatile enough to serve with many summery dishes.

a bottle of Ponte de Lima Vinho Verde

Tank #10 VinNaturo, £25 (1.5 litres), More Wine

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.

A pouch of Tank #10 VinNaturo

Grüner Veltliner 2020, 16.50 (three 250ml cans), Canned Wine

Lovely grapefruit zest with peachy richness and grüner’s characteristic white pepper finish. Perfect for a picnic.

A can of wine

Codorníu Cava Rosado, £9.49, Waitrose & Partners

Pretty pink bubbles bursting with red berry fruits and a lemony tang. Great by itself to get a party going.

a bottle Codorníu Cava Rosado

Dealuri Pinot Noir, £4.99, Aldi

Brilliant value for this bright, juicy pinot noir with a gentle 12.5% ABV. A go-to standby to see you through the summer.

a bottle of Dealuri Pinot Noir


Kate HawkingsWine Columnist

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