‘Tis the sea­son for fresh, zesty whites, says Mike Ben­nie, but don’t be de­terred from ro­bust reds in warmer weather. Just chill.

delicious - - DRINKS - @mikeben­nie101 @mikeben­nie101 de­li­cious.com.au/drinks To pe­ruse more of Mike’s favourite drinks.

SPRING IS THE MOST ex­cel­lent time for fer­mented drinks. It’s when new-re­lease wines hit the mar­ket, freshly minted and zing­ing in the bot­tle. Warmer weather is also when we first see aro­matic whites such as ries­ling, sau­vi­gnon blanc and fresh white blends hit the shelves, and it brings a chance to ramp up the young, bright rosés.

For this time of year, fizzy wines are the go. Aus­tralian wine­mak­ers pro­duc­ing pros­ecco are hav­ing a field day, and even out­gun­ning their Ital­ian coun­ter­parts. Aus­tralian pros­ecco seems to have ex­tra zip and a touch more com­plex­ity. The Ital­ian va­ri­ety can be very good to drink, but the travel from across the world can some­times ham­per fresh­ness, so lo­cal ver­sions should be on your agenda. The fact that most pros­ecco can be en­hanced with fruit juice or nec­tar, or be blended into spritz cock­tails, is also a ben­e­fit.

Pétil­lant na­turel wines, or ‘pet nats’ as they are known, are an emerg­ing sparkling wine. Nat­u­rally fer­mented in the bot­tle, they hold an ex­otic ar­ray of char­ac­ters. They are in­ter­est­ing, re­fresh­ing, purefeel­ing bub­bly wines that are in­creas­ingly grac­ing bistros, wine bars and great restau­rants around the coun­try.

Lean, crisp, dry white wines are also note­wor­thy dur­ing this pe­riod, per­fect for al­fresco drink­ing and paired with lighter, fresher meals. While ries­ling is typ­i­cally imag­ined as a sweet wine, the bone-dry ver­sions are the ones to go for – look for 2018 re­leases from Eden Val­ley, Tas­ma­nia, Great South­ern in Western Aus­tralia, and the Can­berra district. Get stuck into some with raw seafood to see how ries­ling soars!

It’s also time to drop the naysay­ing about chill­ing red wines. But re­mem­ber: it’s the fresh, youth­ful ex­pres­sions that work best with some fridge time. Ten min­utes for pinot noir, gamay and an ar­ray of light- to medium-bod­ied red blends is ideal. And don’t be afraid to drink straight from the fridge – it helps tighten reds and give them ex­tra pep and vigour.

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