Despite the huge changes to the way we've been living in the past few months, a bank holiday weekend still feels special, and it is likely we'll be firing up the barbecue.
It's always lovely to have a sparkling wine to kick off the occasion, so in today's line-up, I've got a few interesting ones.
And summer wouldn't be summer without some crisp white wines and pale pink rosés, as well as some delicious reds, which range from light ones that can be chilled to more full-bodied wines to go with meat.
But if you're missing the pub and a cool pint, breweries, pubs, restaurants and off-licences have come up with innovative ways to bring the taste of your local to your home.
Some of the larger operations include Craft Central, who have next-day delivery, Radical Drinks, who delivers in two to three days, and it's worth checking out thebeerclub.ie. Running a collection service are L Mulligan Grocer and The Big Romance Bar in Dublin, as is Bierhaus in Cork.
The Twelve Hotel in Galway has its own draft beers available for collection, as does Urban Brewing in CHQ, who have a collection service. Five-litre mini kegs from breweries like White Hag, Sceolan Irish IPA and Hope Beer are available; you'll find them in Bierhaus, Martin's, and McHugh's.
I did a quick Twitter poll this week to find the top craft-beer retailers around the country, and as well as those already listed, there is much love for Bradley's, Cork; Ardkeen Waterford; McCambridges, Galway; The Counter Deli in Donegal.
In Dublin, there's Deveney's; Sweeney's D3; Redmond's; Higgin's Clonskeagh; Brady's Shankill; Fresh; Jus de Vine; Blackrock Cellar; Coach Off Sales, Dwan's Off-Licence; Molloy's; The Drink Store; and Mace SCR Off-Licence. There's also a good selection in O'Briens and in most supermarkets.
Castellore Prosecco Spumante DOC
€10.99, 11pc, from Aldi
Produced by Fratelli Martini, this won a gold medal at the Prosecco Masters 2020. With plenty of peach, pear, red apple, orange blossom, and a touch of lemon, this is a well-priced summer fizz for Prosecco lovers.
Menti GIOVANNI Roncaie Sui Lieviti 2017, Italy
€23, 13pc, from Sheridan's Cheesemongers, Green Man Wines, SIYPS.com
Made from the Garganega grape, which is more associated with Soave wine, this organic, unfiltered, pet nat (gently sparkling) wine is a perfect summer aperitif with its crisp peach and apple flavours.
€40, 12pc, from Green Man Wines, Loose Canon, and Bradley's Cork.
For something special, this alternative to Champagne from the Czech Republic is biodynamic and made from 100pc Pinot Noir. Delicate but rich, it is bone-dry with flavours of apple skins and a biscuity complexity. Beautiful as an aperitif or with grilled fish brochettes.
Viña Albali Frizzante Rosado, Spain
€4.99, 5.5pc, from Spar, Eurospar, Mace and Londis
If you're looking for something lighter to sip at lunchtime, this sparkling rosé made from the Tempranillo grape is considerably lower in alcohol. Fresh and juicy with plenty of ripe strawberry.
Proverbio Organic Prosecco
€16.95 reduced from €19.95, 11pc, from O'Briens and obrienswine.ie
An organic Prosecco which is suitable for vegans, this goes less in the peachy direction and is more restrained and mineral driven, with notes of crisp green apple and a beautiful stream of bubbles.
Pierre Jaurant, Languedoc Rosé 2019
€8.99, 12.5pc, from Aldi
From the Languedoc-Roussillon region, this pale pink rosé is a blend of Grenache and Cinsault, and with its fresh, juicy flavours of strawberries and ripe redcurrants, it is perfect to sip on its own or have with barbequed prawns or salad Niçoise.
Rós Rosé 2019
€16.95, €12.71 for two when you buy one and get second half price, 13.5pc, from O'Briens and obrienswine.ie
Made by Master of Wine and O'Brien's Director of Wine, Lynne Coyle, this is a rosé with intent. Wild fermented, it is textured with a beautiful intensity of ripe loganberries and a touch of ripe pink grapefruit.
Whispering Angel 2019
€25, 13c, from Molloy's, Jus de Vine, La Touche Wines, Mitchell & Son, Nolan's, Higgins, 64 Wines, Morton & Sons, The Corkscrew, Cheers Take Home, D SIX Wines, Redmond's, Devaney's, On The Grapevine, The Wine Centre Kilkenny, Bradley's Cork, Avoca, World Wide Wines Waterford, Celtic Whiskey Store, O'Briens and select Dunnes Stores
One of the most talked about rosés, this is textbook Provençal style. Made from Grenache, Rolle, Cinsault, Syrah, and Mourvèdre, it has an elegant, restrained stream of ripe summer berries with a long, crisp finish.
Solas Syrah Rosé 2019
€11.50, 12.5pc, from Dunnes Stores
Made by Laurent Miquel in the Languedoc, this delicately hued rosé is crisp and fresh with gentle flavours of raspberry, strawberry and a touch of ripe peach. Refreshing to sip or have with seafood.
Bergerie de L'Hortus 2019
€17.50, 13pc, from Wines Direct, Mullingar, and winesdirect.ie
From Pic Saint Loup in the Languedoc area of France, this blend of Syrah and Grenache has a floral and ripe strawberry nose with a lean Provençal style on the palate, which is spiked with a touch of pink pepper.
Cantine Rallo Ciello Bianco CatarRatto 2019
€13.55, 12.5pc, from greenmanwines.ie, Clontarf Wines, Baggot Street Wines, Blackrock Cellars, Ely Wine Maynooth;, Bradley’s, Cork; Le Caveau, Kilkenny.
Catarratto is a grape variety you should remember as typically, it offers very good value for money. Native to Sicily, this organic wine has plenty of stone fruit, vibrant lemon and a touch of almond on the finish. Beautiful with olives, fish, and herb-infused grilled vegetables.
Specially Selected Freeman’s Bay Grüner Veltliner 2019
Specially Selected Freeman's Bay Grüner Veltliner 2019
Increasingly, you’ll find plantings of Austria’s most famous grape, Grüner Veltliner, outside of its homeland, and this New Zealand expression shows the crispness and grapefruit flavours you’d expect. Great with fish, chicken, and on its own.
Zin Fiano ProdutTori de Manduria 2019
€15 reduced from 17.50, 13pc, from Whelehan’s and whelehanswines.ie
Hand harvested, the grapes for this wine are grown on the limestone and volcanic soil of Manduria in Puglia. With a fresh herbal nose, the palate has flavours of bay leaf, lemon and apple. Would be lovely with grilled courgettes, finished with grated Parmesan.
Albamar Albariño 2019
€22.95, 13pc, from Clontarf Wines, greenmanwines.ie, 64 Wine, SIYPS.com, Redmond’s, Baggot Street Wines, Blackrock Cellar, Lilac Wines, Matson’s Wine Store
A low-intervention, wild-fermented Albariño that echoes the salty Atlantic Ocean waters of Galicia, this combines ripe fruit with minerality on a textured palate from five months on the lees. A classic with fish.
Vincent Lacour, Touraine Sauvignon Blanc 2019
€22, 12.5pc, from greenmanwines.ie and Cass & Co, Dungarvan, Waterford
This Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire, which is wonderfully food-friendly, is a lot more restrained than the New Zealand-style that has become so popular. Here you get complexity with good mineral undertones from vines planted on clay with flint soil. Perfect with barbecued asparagus or goat’s cheese.
Pinot Noir Gran Reserva Valle de Leyda 2018
€9.99, 14.5pc, from Lidl
Great value from the limited seasonal collection from Lidl, there is a lovely definition of ripe red fruit in this Pinot Noir. Serve a little chilled to drink on its own or have with barbequed chicken, grilled vegetables or spicy fish.
Masi Campofiorin 2019
€15 reduced from €17.49, 13pc, on offer in SuperValu and widely available at standard price
Perfect with barbecued red meat, mushrooms and aubergines, this rich, velvety wine from the Veneto, made from a blend of Corvina, Rondinella, Molinara, has ripe black cherry fruit and a touch of spice.
Château de Montdomaine ‘Le Breton’ 2018
€16.70, 13pc, from Wines Direct, Mullingar and winesdirect.ie
Made from the Cabernet grape in the Touraine region of the Loire, this naturally fermented wine has darker fruit than you’d expect, with violets on the nose, and plush plums, ripe blackberries and blueberries on the palate. Try it with charred steak and aubergine.
Lirica Primitivo di Manduria 2017
€19.50, 14.5pc, from Whelehan’s and whelehanswines.ie
Primitivo, with its spicy nose and full bodied wash of ripe fruit, is always a great red to pair with barbequed steak. This one is nicely structured and a savoury note works with the velvety dark fruit flavours, which are not too over-ripe.€24, 13.5pc, from The Corkscrew, Green Man Wines, Mitchell’s, Sheridan’s, and Host Ranelagh
Definitely a wine for the cool kids, the grapes for this juicy, biodynamic Sangiovese and Merlot blend are co-fermented with wild yeast, with no sulphur additions. Incredibly drinkable, it has violet aromas with flavours of ripe cherries and blackcurrants. Goes with everything.
Lirica Primitivo di Manduria 2017
€19.50, 14.5pc, from Whelehan’s and whelehanswines.ie
Primitivo, with its spicy nose and full bodied wash of ripe fruit, is always a great red to pair with barbequed steak. This one is nicely structured and a savoury note works with the velvety dark fruit flavours, which are not too over-ripe.