A fine time for tennis and pink wine

Anyone for tennis? Yes, hurrah! Wimbledon is here again.

Saturday, 10th July 2021, 6:00 am

A welcome alternative for casual sports fans to the more dubious delights of the Euros. Not for me. Strawberries with vegan cream, Wimbledon, pink wine and sunshine- that’s what Summer means to this old boy. Not too old, however, to still play a bit and teach the young ones a thing or two.

On Sunday last I enjoyed a thrilling two sets to love victory over my beloved 14-year old vegan god-daughter, Josephina, in an epic encounter which seems certain to be discussed (mainly between ourselves at my instigation) for many years to come. After she went home to lick her wounds, I collapsed on to the sofa at my lovely home, Rose Cottage, and cried out: “James! James! Pink wine! Pronto! Please”. And then I remembered that my dear old manservant had flounced off home in a huff earlier muttering something about constant unreasonable demands. You just can’t find good house staff these days.

“Madame! Madame!” I hollered. “A splash of pink if you please, my love!”. Whereupon, I realised that my darling wife was still in her native France attending to family business. My quest for rose was at that point interrupted by the welcome vision of my homework, today’s Wine of the Week, the decadently smooth, supple and mellow 2020 Nostru Nero d’Avola Sicilia (£12.50-£12.99, available from independent wine merchants), winking at me seductively from the wine rack.

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I say homework because it’s my job to write about it - nothing free in this life. What is most noteworthy about this bottle is that not only is it organic but, most unusually, it contains no added sulphur which, much like gluten intolerance, many people react badly to and is often associated with headaches and breathing difficulties. Some critics argue that added sulphites are needed for a fuller, richer taste. I’d simply suggest decanting at least an hour before serving and then immersing yourself in its generous bouquet which delivers dark cherry and berry flavours before a sumptuous palate wherein black fruit and summer berries mingle with notes of pepper and lick-your-lips liquorice. It went very well with my sausage, fennel and pasta in a rich, creamy tomato sauce.

People commonly associate vegan wine with the absence of sulphites. All wine has sulphites. However, sometimes high levels of added sulphur can indicate the presence of gelatine or animal fats. So I suspect my vanquished opponent, Josephina, would approve of today’s tipple. These young ones certainly do have their ideas and opinions, hey? My opinion remains that there is no finer time of year to drink pink wine.

On which note, today’s second recommendation is the lively, zesty, salmon-pink 2020 Cotes de Provence Rose (£8, M&S). Wild honeysuckle aromas and tangy strawberry flavours abound in this graceful, delightfully dry and lipsmackingly crisp pink wine. Elegant and superbly balanced it will be an ideal companion for a relaxing afternoon on the sofa watching the Men’s Final. Come on, Roger!

Alas, the old man’s tournament will probably have finished before you read this. As I must finish today. At the time of writing no Englishman can possibly win Wimbledon this year. And the £5 Win Italy betting docket in my hand hopes that no Englishman can possibly win the Euros either. Till next week, tipplers, sante!

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