Whatever wine (or gin) gets you through the night

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Cocktails? Mocktails? Maybe even rocktails? But not in my house, please! It’s a funny old word whatever way you choose to say it.

More of which anon. Rest assured, tipplers, cocktails of some description are coming your way before the end of today’s column. Which remains primarily a wine column. Wines therefore go first.

First among equals, just about gaining the nod by no more than the shortest of short heads to be sure to be sure is today’s Wine of the Week is an ideal match to any burgers or steaks you may have planned for the barbecue this weekend, weather permitting- the elegant, soft and supple 2020 M&S Classics Pinotage (currently, £8). This complex, medium-bodied South African red has an opulent palate full of blackberry and plum flavours which combine most pleasingly with subtle strands of tobacco and tar before a magnificently lengthy, deeply satisfying finish. Hints of spice and dark, bitter chocolate abound. Worth considering for Sunday roasts of beef or lamb.

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Of course, should the weather allow you may prefer something fresher, more fragrant and, most importantly, white. Who’s going to Greece for their hols this Summer? I don’t see any hands. Same’s true for Turkey, Croatia, Cyprus, Portugal or the many other hotspots which produce all the lovely wine we tear into on our hols but can hardly ever can find in our local supermarkets. The good news is that help is on hand. The less welcome tidings are that you have to order in and so may have to wait a very short while for delivery. Still, that gives the weather a chance to settle and it will be well worth your patience.

An occasional tipple with Raymond GleugAn occasional tipple with Raymond Gleug
An occasional tipple with Raymond Gleug

Today’s second recommendation is the delightfully dry, ferociously crisp, exquisitely balanced 2020 Mitravelas White on Grey Moschofilero (£7.50, The Wine Society, visit www.thewinesociety.com or telephone 01438-741177) - an excellent match to a warm chicken and coriander salad on a balmy Summer evening. Pale golden in colour with plenty of stonefruit, rosehip and lime zest on its vibrantly aromatic bouquet lead to a rich, citrussy palate with unusual but charming hints of pine before a brisk, discreetly acidic finish. Drinking this is like listening to a cherished old song where you completely forget yourself and think you are somewhere else, somewhere good... How perfect!

Back to cocktails as promised. When I see this funny little word, I naturally think of the male hen and its tail. Don’t you? And I wonder why it should be used to describe an alcoholic drink. Despite extensive research for at least 30 seconds on Wikipedia, I’m not much wiser now. Except to say that there was once a practice in the US of docking the tails of horses which weren’t thoroughbreds and which were subsequently labelled cocktails. Similarly, an alcoholic cocktail indicates a drink lacking purity of breeding. Though, unlike the poor horse, that label doesn’t indicate any lack of energy, class or pzazz! Au contraire...

Today’s Cocktail of the Week is Lidl’s rich, flavoursome and delightfully refreshing Lavender Lemonade Elixir. Mix 2 parts Sicilian lemonade with one part lavender paste (make your own by boiling water, dried lavender and stirring through some honey or you could just buy it) and crushed ice. Strain, pour and add a generous shot of Hortus Blackberry and Violet Gin (£16.99) and top with a sprig of lavender. Bliss. You’ll find lots of other fruity and not so fruity gins in Lidl’s superb new summer Gin range.

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Whether you choose to drink wine, gin, cocktails or something else this weekend, try to remember that a good man should always be drunk. A good woman too. So if you sense sobriety is creeping in, here’s what you should do. Get drunk again! On wine or cocktails, on love, poetry, sex religion, the stock markets or even just dancing- whatever it is that turns you on. Gardening for me these days. For a life that isn’t lived drunk, sure that’s barely a life at all. Till next week, tipplers, sante!

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