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7:00am Saturday 23rd June 2012 in Lifestyle
Fancy a drink? Our drinks columnist Sam Wylie-Harris suggests some top-seeded tipples ahead of the Wimbledon Championships.
Winning drinks for Wimbledon.
Thanks to our inclement British weather, the grass courts of Wimbledon will be looking greener than a vineyard ahead of the Wimbledon Championships (June 25 to July 8), and some terrific sporting action should banish any summertime blues.
In between bright spells and showers, tennis fans thirsty for some speciality serves will be thronging to hospitality tents, but tipplers don't need a courtside ticket to soak up the garden party atmosphere.
Official champagne sponsor, Lanson is celebrating its 30th year at the tournament and Lanson Rose Label (£36.99, major retailers) will be adding some summer sparkle to picnic blankets on the Tea Lawn, and tennis-inspired parties with a big screen.
Another grand slam pour, Jacob's Creek is the official wine sponsor and has created some delicious wine cocktails which will be served during the two weeks. For a refreshing spritzer, try Jacob's Creek Sauvignon Blanc, S E Australia (£7.89, Tesco) in this classic favourite that's tuned to the matches.
:: Grass Court Cooler 125ml Jacob's Creek Sauvignon Blanc, 35ml apple juice, 35ml lemonade, mint sprig Place ice cubes in a high-ball or large wine glass, add a measured 125ml serve of Jacob's Creek Sauvignon Blanc, top with 35ml apple juice and add lemonade. Garnish with a mint sprig.
New on the shelves and the next big thing for smart garden parties, Sipsmith Summer Cup (£18.50, 50cl, Waitrose) is the latest addition to Sipsmith's portfolio of handcrafted vodkas and gins. Blending Sipsmith Gin with various ingredients including Earl Grey tea, cardamom, cucumber and orange, it's designed to be mixed with lemonade. Here's the recipe to try at home.
:: Sipsmith Summer Cup Take a jug or glass and marry one part Sipsmith Summer Cup with three parts lemonade. Combine over ice with seasonal summer fruits and mint for a deliciously refreshing summer drink, bursting with natural flavours.
Another newcomer to the drinks circuit, the number one selling vodka in Russia has arrived on our shores. Green Mark (£13, 70cl, Tesco) carries the government's quality guarantee 'Green Mark' seal of excellence. The smooth, spicy flavours and racing green label make it the ideal vodka for your bar this summer.
For a pop of colour in your hamper, try Lambrini Cider Summer Fruits (£4.50, 4% abv, 330ml four-pack, Asda) and enjoy well chilled as an aperitif with crisps or salty savoury snacks. Light berry flavours, and a gentle cider kick make these baby bottles perfect for warm, summer days.
Home-grown, Wickham Vineyard Row Ash Rose 2010, England (£8.49, www.wickhamvineyard.co.uk) is an English rose from the heart of Hampshire. A real little gem with its strawberry bouquet and intense strawberry fruit flavours, serve this medium-dry rose with strawberries and cream, or shortbread biscuits for a grand slam treat.
Clean as a whistle, Vouvray Sec Coteau de la Biche Domaine Pichot 2011, France (£11.92, www.goedhuis.com) is a fine example of a minerally chenin blanc from the Loire Valley. Bright, grassy and super fresh with ripe quince, peach and pear backed by racy acidity, match this classy white with smoked salmon sandwiches or poached salmon and new potatoes.
Heading south to the sunny Languedoc, winemaker Paul Mas has summer drinking all wrapped up with his Paul Mas Estate Syrah/Viognier 2011 (Nicole Estate), France (£8.99, Majestic). Bursting with bags of flavour, a strong blackcurrant nose and red summer fruits, this light, easy drinking red is lovely on its own, or as an accompaniment with finger sandwiches, soft cheeses, and even chocolate puddings at the end of a picnic.
For larger gatherings, or just catching up on the day's highlights, Inspired Wine lives up to its name with its Pepperwood Grove vacuum packed wines. The Big Green Box comes in all our favourite grape varieties, equals four standard bottles, stays fresh for up to six weeks, and has a non-drip tap.
Favourites for sipping during some thrilling tennis action include Pepperwood Grove Chardonnay, California (£31.95 for 3 litres, equivalent of £7.99 per bottle, www.inspiredwine.co.uk), a rich, fruity chardonnay that's bursting with tropical fruits, and Pepperwood Grove Pinot Noir, Chile (£31.95 for 3 litres, equivalent of £7.99 per bottle, www.inspiredwine.co.uk), a light and smooth pinot that's a real crowd pleaser.
Best buy South American winery Vinalba romped home with Argentinian Red Bordeaux Varietal under £10 at the 2012 Decanter World Wine Awards for its Vinalba Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 (£5.49 from £6.79, The Co-operative) - on special promotion from now until July 3.
Liquid news Sip for a good cause... Environmentally-friendly Australian winery, Banrock Station, is hoping to reintroduce the rare Large Blue butterfly to the picturesque Cotswolds as part of a nature charity project. Sales from each bottle of Banrock Station Chardonnay Viognier (£10.99, Sainsbury's) and Banrock Station Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz (£10.99, Sainsbury's) will be donated to the cause, and the producers have pledged £15,000 to Butterfly Conservation to help increase the population.