Hol­i­day buys to bring home the sun­shine

The Guardian - Feast - - News - Fiona Beck­ett

Even though the weather may stay warm into Septem­ber, there’s al­ways a sum­mer’s-over feel­ing at the end of Au­gust, and I want to pro­long the sum­mer as long as I can. And that means drink­ing the wines and other drinks I’ve been en­joy­ing on hol­i­day – de­spite the gen­er­ally held view that they never taste as good back home.

That may have been true at one time, when wine qual­ity was a lot dodgier than it is now and maybe our palates less dis­cern­ing (it’s amaz­ing how good a ropey red can taste with a ke­bab when the sun is shin­ing), but there’s no rea­son to de­prive your­self of the en­joy­ment of a bot­tle you loved.

In fact, the weather’s been so great this sum­mer that I’ve not been trav­el­ling much, bar a long week­end in Menorca ... which turns out to have a de­li­ciously herby gin – Xoriguer (pro­nounced sho-ri-gair), which has its own de­nom­i­na­tion. Un­usu­ally, it’s made from grape rather than grain-based al­co­hol, in wood-fu­elled cop­per stills, and is served, as in the rest of Spain, in gi­gan­tic (and some­what lethal) gold­fish-bowl-sized glasses.

An­other reg­u­lar hol­i­day buy when I used to spend sum­mers in the Langue­doc in the south of France was crisp, fresh Picpoul de Pinet, which went down a treat with a plate of the lo­cal oys­ters. It’s still worth load­ing up the car if you’re down there, as it’s much cheaper than it is back home, but Lidl has a de­cent one in its lat­est wine re­lease – Les Figuerettes (12.5%) at £6.99 – if you’re not in that part of the world.

If you’re wary of retsina, you should try Tear of the Pine from Kechris, a pro­ducer I vis­ited near Thes­sa­loniki last au­tumn to see the resin har­vest. It has none of the coarse, oily flavour of cheap retsi­nas, just a slight smok­i­ness and a lovely min­er­al­ity that goes bril­liantly with the lo­cal meze. Take ad­van­tage of still be­ing in the EU by buy­ing it di­rect from Greece (see the side­bar). It’s hard to find in the UK.

An­other hol­i­day habit worth pro­long­ing is white port and tonic, which has been a sur­prise hit at Sains­bury’s this sum­mer, I’m told, with cus­tomers ex­per­i­ment­ing with dif­fer­ent ton­ics (I liked the Mer­chant’s Heart hi­bis­cus tonic with it – also at Sains­bury’s at £1.30 for 200ml).

Fi­nally, if you’re fly­ing and plan to bring booze back, it’s worth picking up a set of re­us­able, padded Wine Skin bags (£12.99 at Ama­zon) to pro­tect your bot­tles if you’re pack­ing a few treats in your check-in lug­gage.

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