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What makes summer so special to you? Maybe it’s the opportunity to grab the bucket and spade, slap on the suncream and find the best beach that scores highly on the sunshine league table? It could even simply be the chance to fire up the flames on the barbecue and a catch up with friends. Either way, you may have to venture down to the garden shed and battle with the cobwebs and spiders, along with that bicycle you never got round to riding, in order to find the garden furniture, only to find the mice have feasted on it during the winter months.

Whatever makes you smile in the sun, the summer season is certainly one of our favourites. For me, it’s all about grabbing the walking boots, unfolding the map and exploring the network of highways and byways which criss-cross our wonderful region, maybe finishing in the garden of a charming pub with a relaxing glass of Pimms.

No British summer is complete without a glass filled to the brim with your favourite tipple, whether it be fabulous fizz, fruit-filled rosé or even a refreshing gin and tonic, there’s certainly something for everyone. This season, you might even take the opportunity to grab a map and visit England’s own vineyards to sample some home-grown delights.

We are certainly spoilt for choice, so here are some of my favourite drinks to help you raise a glass to summer:

La Gioiosa et Amorosa Rosea Spumante NV, Italy.
Whether its a social gathering, an anniversary or just because it’s a day of sunny skies, sometimes only bubbles is the answer. Taken from an ancient local saying ‘marca gioiosa et amorosa’, meaning ‘march with joy and love’, this friendly, happy fizz is produced by blending the popular Pinot Noir grape with Pinot Blanc, giving it a lovely pink tinge with lazy bubbles in the glass. It’s sprinkling of sweetness will cater for those who turn their backs on dry sparkling wines, making it suitable for any occasion.

Chiarli Vecchia Modena Pignoletto NV, Italy.
If you and your friends are fans of Prosecco and are itching to try something new, then why not try the new kid on the block, Pignoletto. Produced in the neighbouring Italian region of Emilia Romagna, this soft, light and fruity fizz is refreshing, food friendly and will certainly be the talking point at any summer party.

Craggy Range Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand.
Out of all the white wines across the world, Sauvignon Blanc remains a popular choice amongst consumers, drawn in by its fresh, lively, exuberant flavours and refreshingly crisp acidity. It’s usually the go-to wine for many summer parties and always a resident in most wine racks. Sauvignon Blanc from the Marlborough region on the South Island is the style which has put New Zealand firmly on the wine map. Craggy Range is an iconic winery of great heritage and repute and has created this wine from low-yielding vines under the sunny skies of one of the warmest parts of Marlborough. Intense citrus and guava notes are lifted by crisp acidity, creating an exotic, elegant flavour profile that’s excellent with seafood.

Whispering Angel Rosé, Provence, France.
Do you prefer a darker shade of fire engine red or a lighter shade of flamingo? Rest assured, I haven’t gone crazy. Like a Dulux paint chart, rosé comes in an array of exciting shades and colours – and we all have our favourite. We may think that this perfect summer tipple should only be cracked open when the sun comes out, but remember it also boasts some key qualities when it comes to food and wine matching. The French region of Provence with its sun-kissed beaches and

expensive yachts is a popular choice when it comes to rosé, and this classic, peach-tinged example is adored by wine-lovers across the globe. Filled with evocative flavours of grapefruit and citrus, combined with refreshing acidity, it’s the perfect wine to drink with summer salads.

Daffy’s Gin.
The gin industry is currently booming in the UK as it continues to infuse, invest and innovate. The crystal-clear spirit has certainly come along in heaps and bounds from its 17th century inception in Holland, where British soldiers where given a shot of genever before battle commenced. Now you know where the phrase ‘Dutch courage’ came from. Today, this popular spirit is the key ingredient in a host of cocktails or simply served with some tonic, complimented with some ice and a slice. One of my favourites is Daffy’s with its refreshing aromatics of citrus, spice and a subtle hint of toffee. Juniper still dominates, bringing a classic backbone to this complex and creamy gin.

Pedrino Premium Alcoholic Tonic.
If you’re looking for the ideal tipple to relax with under the tree with your favourite book, then pour a glass of this delicious tipple. A firm favourite with many, Pedrino is a blend of Pedro Ximenez sherry, citrus botanicals, bitters, quinine and spring water. Try serving over ice with a sliced or orange or with gin, it’s sure to get people talking during any social occasion. A ‘must try’!

I hope you enjoy my choices!

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