Brancott Estate Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand 2019 (£7, Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury’s) A consequence of the enforced absence of the pub for me has been an occasional craving for a drink I’ve previously only ever ordered in beer gardens on very hot afternoons: a white-wine spritzer. It’s quite hard to get right: pick the wrong wine, and level of dilution, and you won’t be able to get past the theory that the spritzer only really developed as the designated driver’s lower-alcohol allowance. To get to something that might actually be preferable to a straight glass of white, you need a wine with sufficient oiliness of body and amplitude of fruit flavour to thrive at a three-parts wine to one-part fizzy water ratio. The winner in my home experiments is a passionfruit and elderflower-scented New Zealand sauvignon blanc, such as Brancott Estate’s.
Taylor’s Chip Dry White Port, Douro, Portugal NV (£13.99, Waitrose) For me, the best base for a spritzer isn’t dry wine, but a richer, slightly sweeter and stronger fortified white port. Taylor’s makes a good version (although they recommend swapping the spring water for tonic and thinking of the drink as a lighter version of a G&T). The spritzer isn’t the only wine-based mixed drink I’m missing. Since I’m unlikely to go camping in France this summer, I now crave a drink I’d only ever have in a French campsite bar: a kir. For the full experience you really need a bad bottle of cheap, dry, acidic French white wine and a splash of crème de cassis. My own version with Boudier Crème de Cassis de Dijon (£14.95, 50cl, thewhiskyexchange.com) and Tesco Finest Chablis 2018 (£12) was perhaps a little too tasty to be fully authentic.
Antica Distilleria Quaglia Vermouth Berto Bianco, Italy NV (£16.95, The Whisky Exchange) There’s a lot to be said for the transporting effects of the homemade long drink at the moment. The quickest and cheapest way to take yourself to the piazza café terrace of your imagination? It has to be a spritz (I like mine with the more bitter Campari rather than Aperol, alongside the prosecco, soda water and slice of orange). Pretty much anything involving vermouth or bitters has the same emotional effect. That could entail the sharp slap of a martini or the exquisite bitterness of a negroni. But it might equally mean a glass of vermouth straight, well chilled, over ice or with a splash of soda water or tonic, and a slice of orange. Antica Distilleria Quaglia Vermouth Berto Bianco from Piedmont is one of my favourites, its zesty and pithy orange citrus character pepped up with aromatic spiciness.