Without fail, Pinot Grigio is the default white wine of choice. To start with, the girls are the ones bearing the buckets. But the boys follow once they have become too lagered out and bloated to make the trek back inside to the bar.
Pinot Grigio (or Pinot Gris if the winemaker is a Francophile) is generally the very definition of easy-drinking wine. Light. Inoffensive. Smooth. Summery.
You don't need a plate full of food to tame it, but it will also go well with a wrap of hot chips and aioli. It's exactly the sort of booze you want on a lazy afternoon when the next food you are likely to see is at a kebab stand after you've caught the last tube to Cockfosters.
The Aussie autumn is roughly equivalent to an English summer. It's warm(ish), and it rains a lot. So as March approaches, I thought I would road-test a couple of Aussie Pinot Grigios/Pinot Gris'.
First cab off the rank is a Pizzini 2009 Pinot Grigio.
The Pizzinis are very proud Italian-Australians. From the King Valley in northern Victoria, they produce what must be the widest range of Italian-style wines on the Aussie market - most of which you've probably never heard of and some of which you won't even be able to pronounce. Nevertheless, the ones I've tried have generally been pretty solid.
Their Pinot Grigio is one of my favourites. It’s a light golden glow in the glass, rimmed with a twinkle and a spark. It has a mild, but pleasant, floral whiff that politely puts a gun to your head and makes you an offer you simply can't refuse.
In the mouth, it's a mouth-wateringly, nubile flood of passionfruit icing on a lemon and poppy seed muffin. It gives you a nice, crisp finish and there's a hint of texture and muscle. But in Corleone-terms, it's probably more Fredo than Sonny.
Beautifully balanced, light and delicious. It’s summer in a glass.
Perfect for Fivesies. Or Elevenses, if you are so inclined.
Drink with: Luca Brasi
Price: $18 (www.pizzini.com.au)
Next up is the Printhie 2008 Pinto Gris.
The Gris style (as opposed to the Grigio style) means it’s richer and more full-bodied. That’s never a bad thing, whether we be talking women or wine.
The Printhie vineyards are set in the elevated, cool climate of Orange. The grapes are picked later and riper, and the team at Printhie perform some clever and innovative alchemy to create a more complex mix than the Grigio above.
I have to confess that I needed to open two bottles of this little champ. There was something not quite right with the first bottle. It smelt musty and damp - like the stairwell of a multi-storey carpark. I must have picked up a dodgy one because, thankfully, the second bottle was right back on the money. It smelt properly of an apple orchard irrigated generously with honey. A scent of summer that invites you to roll over and have your tummy tickled.
In the glass, it’s a pale gold, tinged with the shade of an envious Granny Smith. Dive in and it’s a cheery, mouth-filling orgy of lightly spiced apples and pears. An alcoholic Danish. Hans Christian Andersen on a bender.
Again, it’s just a wonderful summery drop. A bit heavier than the Pizzini. But still simple, bright and easy to drink.
At any Sunday session, we all know that eating is cheating. But if you felt compelled to sneak in a cheeky bar snack, then I’m sure this would wash it down suitably.
Drink with: Calamari a L’orange
Price: $17 (www.printhiewines.com.au)