Since there’s still a comparatively small amount of homegrown wine in the UK, and much of that isn’t what you’d call cheap, you probably spend most of your time already drinking wine from places you go, or might go, on holiday. One factor in the rise and rise of Provence rosé, say, is that it conjures up, like nothing else, sunny days in the south of France. That said, though, I’m guessing not many Brits venture up to the hinterland behind Venice, where prosecco is produced, so holiday nostalgia is perhaps not the only reason for a wine’s popularity.
The well-documented danger, of course, is that the wine you found so entrancing on holiday simply isn’t that good once you get it back home. It was probably a lot cheaper in its homeland, for a start, and there’s nothing wrong with that: holiday drinking is about wine that slips down easily, rather than the kind that demands attention and respect.
Some wines make sense only on the spot. One of them, unfortunately, is sherry, which, despite the best efforts of its advocates, fails to find a permanent place in most people’s fridges (I love it, though, so I’m going to keep on trying). Sometimes, however, a wine is just hard to find over here. I’ve really enjoyed edelzwicker, a charmingly fruity and inexpensive blend of local grape varieties, when I’ve been to Alsace, but hardly anyone stocks it in the UK. And unless you holiday in the south-west of France, you’re unlikely to come across the delectably fruity jurançon sec, though I was recently pleased to find one in Aldi’s Specially Selected range at £6.99 (13%).
Other wines travel better. Greece’s crisp, food-friendly white, assyrtiko, is having a bit of a moment – Aldi has the Aspri Petra 2020 (13%), again at £6.99 – as is Spain’s albariño. Greek wine is also being pushed energetically by The Wine Society, thanks, in particular, to its enthusiastic young buyer Matthew Horsley.
Portugal’s vineyards, meanwhile, are mainly in the centre and north of the country, rather than the more touristy south, but if you can’t get to one of my favourite places, the Douro valley, at least try some of that region’s reds, which tend to be amazingly good value.
The galling thing if you’ve just been on holiday – or, more likely, still remember what one of those was like – is how much cheaper wine is in its home environment than it is back home in the UK. Mind you, just think what you’re saving on air fares and Covid tests …
Wines to make you feel you’re away
Quinta de Azevedo Vinho Verde 2020 £7.99 (on offer this weekend) Waitrose, 12%. Delicious, bright seafood white to drink with grilled sardines or other barbecued fish.
Kompsos White Karavitakis 2020 £9.95 The Wine Society, 13.5%. My tasting note for this exotically scented Cretan assyrtiko blend was ‘“screams Greek holidays”’. Perfect sipping for a late summer evening with a selection of meze.
Barbadillo Solear Manzanilla widely available in indies, including Gusto Wines at £6.60, £6.99 Latitude, 15%. Better, without doubt, drunk in Sanlucar, but great with croquetas or calamari anywhere.
Asda Extra Special Douro 2019 £6.50, 13.5%. Imagine drifting down the Douro with this warm, brambly red. Good with baked pasta dishes such as lasagne, too.
Côteaux Varois en Provence 2020 £9.50 (as part of a case of 6) Marks & Spencer, 12.5%. No holiday drinking is complete without rosé, even without a swimming pool. This is the better of a couple of côteaux varois en Provence I’ve tasted recently, but at £6.99, Asda’s non-vintage bottling is worth a whirl, too.