Carry on beer and bubbly

Tempting drinks for summer sun, plus why we do not need to worry about carbon dioxide.

The news scare about a shortage of beers due to a shortage of manufactured carbon dioxide was serious overkill. All at Sea readers would, I hope, be well aware that when we talk fizzy in this column we are talking about naturally produced sparkling wines or real ales.

Carbonation occurs naturally in real ale and Méthode Champenoise sparkling white wines as the yeasts produce carbon dioxide along with alcohol when they eat sugar from the barley or grape.

The carbon dioxide naturally produced dissolves into the liquid to be an integral part of the drink, building its own pressure in the bottle until it is opened. There are more than enough naturally conditioned wines and beers for the whole of the regatta season and beyond.

It is true that some beers use artificial carbonation, lagers mainly. But if there is a shortage of UK produced beers it would be a good time to try the German or Czechoslovakian imports. Czech Pilsner Urquell invented the bottom fermented blond beer we now call lager in 1842 in Pilsner town, and would do very nicely. About £1.50 for 500ml bottle at 4.4 per cent a.b.v at most supermarkets.

Fun for summer

Cruising a yacht or launching a small boat off a beach, some fun drinks will help you get into the holiday spirit. This trilogy of £6 red, white and rosé wines caught my eye at M&S.

Mendoza Argentina Beach House Rosé, 12.5 per cent and a Fair Trade item. It is a bold rosé colour but as dry as many paler rosé wines.

Le Fleuve Bleu-Rouge 2017. Le fleuve translates as a small coastal river. This wine is non-specific, made in the south of France in the Beaujolais region (but not Beaujolais AOC) from Grenache, Carignan and Syrah grapes. At 12 per cent, it is light bodied with nice fruit flavours and is good for barbecued red meats. Recommended for drinking young i.e. now.

Le Fleuve Bleu-Blanc, 2017. Again non-specific French, using mainly Grenache grapes, 12 per cent and very dry. Recommended with picnic pizza and shellfish and green salads. Drink now while young and fruity.

There are many Italian red wines, like Primitivo, d’Abruzzio and Chianti, but Chianti seems to have fallen out of favour with UK drinkers. I think it is worth a revisit.

Chianti revival?

Chianti is any wine made in the Chianti region, in central Tuscany. Last century it had a certain fame for being in a squat bottle enclosed in a straw basket, called a ‘fiasco’. The basket is still available, priced about £8 a bottle, and for sailors and the beach it could be a good idea. The basket protects the bottle from breakage and if it is kept soaking wet and hung up to swing in the breeze, evaporation will produce natural chilling.

Without the basket I found a nice example for £7 at Sainsbury’s. Mondelli Chianti Riserva 2015, 12.5 per cent, is a traditional Chianti from Sangiovese hillside grapes, aged in oak barrels for a minimum of two years, with a smooth texture and smoky cherry notes.

And for a beer, finding Gold Hobgoblin on a recent river boat trip was a surprise to me. Hobgoblin is well known as a dark ruby-red real ale from Marston’s Wychewood brewery and is good for winter parties. Gold, 4.5 per cent, is a shiny gold colour and its powerful hoppy flavour bears a distinct resemblance to the dark original. This is good for picnics or small boating with no on board fridge as it does not need to be particularly cold to be refreshing. From £1.25