Wine & Veg for Summer
Apéro has to be our favourite eating and drinking occasions and Summer with its long evenings gives us the perfect excuse to gather for apéro on any day of the week. And don't mind if we do!
And why not throw together some bruschettas (yes they are originally Italian but we have them in France too) - either one large for sharing or day-old baguette slices - toasted, scraped with a raw garlic clove and then topped with seasonal veggie combos and drizzled with olive oil. See our Bruschetta ideas for wine&2veg apéro nibbles.
Ottolenghi has so many wonderful small plates to serve as mezze that take apéro into the evening. We love his avocado and broad bean mash with fresh white wine or butterbean mash with muhammara (a spicy dip from red peppers and walnuts) is delicious with a slightly chilled fruity merlot. Baba ghanoush is also a classic with many chefs giving their twist on this aubergine, garlicky dip.
Donna Hay's simple vegetable sushi uses classic toasted nori - add a layer of baby spinach leaves, then seasonal vegetables cut into 'julienne' with fresh mint leaves and ginger. Roll up and brush the edges with water to seal, cut into halves or thirds and serve with the traditional soy, wasabi and ginger. A sweet wine pairs really well with spicy food especially ginger so try a light Sauternes as a change from ubiquitous summer rosé
A savoury cake is often seen on the French apéro table - and so many veggie versions too - see our picnic section below for ideas and where to find recipes.
chill the red and serve with seasonal veg either as crudités or mashed into a dip. The easiest summer wine and food pairing is Rosé. Rosé really does go with just about everything, most people love it and comes in many shade of pink. The darker rosés tend to pair better with spicier foods. Bordeaux makes a wine called Clairet, half way between a rosé and a red - the perfect compromise.
“Some wines just shout Summer”
There’s always plenty to celebrate in Summer - even Summer itself! And so many people save up parties and get-togethers to hold them in Summer with the long evenings and hopefully, warm days.
The barbecue gets wheeled out and takes up residence for Summer so try our Vegan BBQ dishes to make something special and plant-based instead of the traditional meat-based faves. This pairs with a red Bordeaux - one with oak ageing to bring smoky flavours or one with a touch of Malbec that brings a hint of spice to the traditional Bordeaux Blend. Think about throwing some veggies onto the grill to serve with garlicky mayo or vinaigrette. We love thickly sliced broccoli heads or baby fennel, trimmed and halved - brushed with olive oil and seasoned then cooked on the grill until just cooked and a little charred. The sweetness of the charring goes wonderfully with a ripe, juicy red with smooth tannins.
Then make some of that Red Onion Marmalade well in advance to go with a whole range of summer dishes - from chick pea burgers to quiches or roast veggie sandwiches.
For a more formal dinner, how about a wonderfully seasonal artichoke to start served the typical French way as you tear off each petal and dip in either a thick, gloopy vinaigrette, a buttery sauce or garlic mayonnaise. They look so stylish on the table before you dive in. But what wine to drink with a bitter vegetable and vinaigrette? Check out the artichoke recipe.
Another dish which works fabulously when feeding a crowd is slow roasted whole small aubergines, red pointy peppers and large vine tomatoes. Just put them into a large baking dish whole with some red onion cut into segments, a few whole garlic cloves, fresh thyme, sea salt and olive oil then coat with your hands and put in the oven for an hour. You can scoop out the inedible veg tops and mash in the garlic then scatter with fresh herbs before serving. You can keep them warm in the oven so it takes the pressure off timing everything together.
Chilled summer soups are a perfect starter for Summer, as part of a buffet or a as a light lunch served with lovely fresh bread,
Chilled soups are easy and quick to prepare. No-cook versions are perfect for hot days when you’d rather chat with friends than slave over a hot stove. They are refreshing and thirst quenching too.
Chilled soup means chilled chef because they can be prepared in advance, just adding some garnish before serving. They make the most of lovely fresh summer veg - you can plate up or let everyone help themselves, each adding different toppings.
Explore our cold soup recipe suggestions and the wines to pair with them..
'...one glass of delicious wine makes it an occasion......
Summer means picnics - in the park or at an outdoor concert. But we want something a little sexier than sandwiches and a packet of crisps! Individual salads in sealable bowls with a simple vinaigrette or garlicky mayonnaise on the side work for a park bench lunch: miniature versions of old Med favourites; Caprese (tiny mozzarella balls and cherry tomatoes); feta, olives and cucumber if going Greek, or a mini niçoise with quails eggs and baby new potatoes. Cooked and cooled potatoes are much better for our gut micro biome than freshly cooked ones. Or full on with a Poke Bowl with spring onions, baby spinach leaves, shredded red cabbage, avocado, mango, cucumber, grated carrot and quinoa with some smoked tofu and cashew nuts and a dressing made with soy, sesame oil, lime juice, ginger and coconut sugar.
Have your cake and eat it
For easy eating, why not a sliced savoury cake, with any combo of olives, courgettes, feta, sun-dried tomatoes – all great summer flavours. The French love a 'cake salé' for apéritif too (see above) - many of their recipes have ham, olives and gruyère, great for using up what's in the fridge. Look up 'cake salé végétariens' on Marie Claire France website and you will find plenty of recipes (this photo is one). Ottolenghi's Cornbread with feta and cheddar is also great standalone and best eaten the day it is made - lovely with a glass of smooth red such as a merlot-driven wine. Even Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has plenty of savoury cake ideas.
Nice and filling are veggie slices - such as oven-roasted courgette and new potato slices, layered into a greaseproof paper-lined baking tin along with (vegan) feta and fresh mint. Pour over beaten eggs and bake until the eggs are set and then cool, chill, cut into squares to pack into the picnic basket.
Vegetarian rolls (sausage rolls without the sausage) with a mushroomed-based stuffing or Donna Hay has a wonderful recipe for super-green ricotta rolls where you can swap in whatever seasonal veg you have. Her super-green falafels are a wonderful picnic addition too. You can also make extra tortillas from the Vegan BBQ and fill for picnics the day after.
Yes we can
For Summer, why not choose a wine with a screw top for practicality? Yes, better quality wines do come in screw tops - especially white and rosé. Try the Chateau Bonnet range from Bordeaux or really go sustainable and save some weight in the picnic basket by choosing wine in a can. The great thing is they are more handily portioned so you can offer a selection of wines to go with all the different foods on the picnic blanket. If there's lots of you why not bag in box good quality wines such as Château Lestrille now come in BIBs.
White wines are delicious in summer, Sally started making a white wine to sip and share with visitors to Château George 7 who enjoy her panoramic terrace. It is a classic Bordeaux blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon but unusually is fermented in burgundy barrels and left on the lees for 6 months to add texture and rich flavours while keeping acidity. Chef Stéphanie Bottreau came up with the goat's cheese dip specifically to go with Sally's wine.
Wendy' loves the dry whites from Entre Deux Mers, always a blend they often have a touch of Muscadelle, a grape variety that adds lovely summer floral aromas. A favourite is Château Lestrille made by another woman wine maker, Estelle Roumage. She also makes a delicious Bordeaux Rosé and Crémant two other summer drinking favourites. The dry white pairs with the veggie chilled summer soups as well as the goat's cheese dip.
Rosé is the go-to Summer fave for so many of us. While Provence Rosé is so popular, did you know that Bordeaux makes Rosé too? Made from the Bordeaux grape varieties, Bordeaux rosé used to always be a darker pink colour, but now you find a full range of pink from dark to very pale. A light rosé is perfect for pool-side sipping while the more flavourful, darker ones will be better paired with food such as a veggie-topped bruschetta or
Summer doesn’t mean red wines are off the menu. Be adventurous, a lower temperature suits a fruity red and can enhance the wine and food pairing especially with salads, bruschetta and a summer version of a poke bowl. Try chilling Prince from Château George 7 the round tannins and fruity flavours show brilliantly when served cool.