A couple of party picks

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Yesterday was Mrs CF’s birthday, leading to a small boatload of people hotfooting it to CF HQ expecting sustenance and refreshment. Sustenence took a form that would have made even the most ill-informed nutritionist feint with shock, involving as it did ludicrously indulgent brownies, wobbly jelly, two flavours of home-made ice cream (caramel popcorn and chocolate & hazelnut, since you ask. Incidentally, if you want to make ice cream and don’t own either this book or its successor, sort it) one booze-packed sorbet (gin & tonic, since you ask), and an unfortunate array of chemical-packed sweets, plus a scant handful of assorted berries and an emphatically ignored selection of carrot sticks.

Then there was the booze. I’m ordinarily an adventurous wine drinker, but parties aren’t a time for risks – you want something young, fresh, utterly reliable and light on both tongue and wallet. I had a white and a pink on the go, the former being Quinta de Azevedo Vinho Verde – fresh, spritzy, relatively light in alcohol at 11.5% and very widely available (currently £6.75 at the Wine Society, £6.49 at Majestic – on promotion from £7.49 – and £7.49 at Waitrose, though I bought it in their recent 25% off promotion for £5.61), it’s a superb default summer party white that all of those retailers have stocked for years.

The pink fulfilled the same criteria. I love Muga’s rosado, which has a super, aluring just-pink colour, a hint of tart berry fruit and tingly freshness. It’s extremely hard to tire of, but sadly the Spanish seem to have achieved it, Riojan rosé being seen as decisively unhip in Iberia at present. On the down side, they’re losing out on some tasty wine that they can buy for a song (This one can be had for €5.70 on this Spanish website, which works out at £4.60) and failing to support their local businesses. On the plus side, that leaves a lot more for us.

Interesting trivia: Jorge Muga, current scion of the winemaking clan, and indeed anyone else from that part of Spain, calls this style of wine “clarete”, but they can’t put it on the bottle because it’s not from Bordeaux, whose viticulturalists have asserted ownership of the word claret and all its variants in all vinous contexts. And unlike most pinks outside Champagne, it’s made by mixing white wine and red wine. Anyway, it’s delicious, if a bit more expensive than the Vinho Verde at £9.49 (Waitrose) and £8.49 (on promotion from £9.99, Majestic).

Incidentally, I went to Muga’s website to see if they could tell me anything more about this wine. This is what I got: “Its period left on the lees underpins the acidity in such a way that its presence is obvious but not intrusive, thanks to the softening influence of the polysaccharides. As you sip it your mouth seems to fill with sweet, chewy fruit. As it passes over the palate the sensations move towards sharp apples, before ending in the retronasal phase with a total dominance of white blossom and ripe fruit.” Polysaccharides? Retronasal phase? Crikey!

Most of my friends aren’t wine lovers, know that I’ll sort them out with something decent to drink, and turn up empty handed. This is good for everyone. One, though, turned up yesterday with a bottle of Gallo White Zinfandel Rose. I try not to be a total wine snob, but I’ve got to draw the line somewhere; they ain’t coming next year.

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