I am a girl who loves football. And I also love wine. My friends challenged me to write a blog post that connects the two and with the Euros in full swing this was definitely doable.
As well as admiring their crafty foot work and toned physiques I got thinking about what my favourite wine or drink from each country in the tournament is. So here goes, my Euro 2016 in booze.
Kicking off with Group A. France; make crazy amounts of wine, in so many different styles so this is a very difficult choice. Since I’m sat writing this whilst torrential rain pours from our June skies I’m unsurprisingly not in the mood for Provence Rosé, I fancy a warming red in the form of a Rhône underdog, Gigondas. Rich, black peppery and full of dark fruit depth, parfait! The Swiss much prefer drinking wine than making it, they rank in the top ten of consumption per capita in the world. They sound like my kinda people. Remember that cinnamon flavoured liqueur which contained ‘real flecks of gold’? Goldschläger gets chosen purely for nostalgic reasons since drinking this aged 18 was the height of sophistication. Romania is an easy one, they make really great value Pinot Noir, you can bag yourself a bottle from Waitrose for £5.99. Albania is famous for Rakia, a fruity brandy, if you can find it in this country I will be mightily impressed.
Group B’s favourites England (ha) is another easy one, we do sparkling wine really well. There’s loads of it around nowadays so you have no excuse not to buy it, splash out on Nyetimber if we win. Wales have some great ale breweries, Brains is a definite favourite of mine. I went to Russia when I was 15 on a school trip and can you guess what we naughtily drank a lot of? Vodka. Drink it in true style, straight from the freezer. Slovakia stumped me, they do make some wine but it’s not really exported much to the UK, I think I once had a Slovakian beer…
Group C is a fun one. Germany make amazing wines, often misunderstood outside of the wine world. Riesling, dry or sweet or somewhere in between are high up in my wine favourites list. Poland know how to do booze, strong beers, Tyskie is my fave, followed by crisp vodka. Both for me please. Northern Ireland; Bushmills whiskey with an ‘e’ is perfect for when you need a pick me up. Brew some strong coffee, add double cream and a large glug of Bushmill’s for a stiff Irish Coffee . I couldn’t think of booze from Ukraine so I tried to think how I could create their flag in a drink, orange juice topped with blue curaçao, I wouldn’t drink it for fear of diabetes but it would look fun.
Group D has Spain which is so difficult since they can do no wrong in booze terms plus they have Gerard Piqué (swoon). I’m torn between Cava and Sherry, since this is my game I choose both. Dry and salty Tio Pepe sherry chased with vintage Cava. I’m salivating at the prospect. For Turkey it’s another delicious European beer, Efes. Croatia always have a great stand at the London Wine Fair and I always end up spending ages there, again, harder to find Croatian wine over here but worth it for something a little different. The Czech Republic do great lager, Budweiser Budvar is my favourite, not to be confused with the American piss-water, mind.
Group E is a good’un. Italy is another tough one, I’m going a bit off piste and choosing Vermouth, either dry or rosso, it’s the new fashionable aperitif that’s making the Aperol Spritz look so 2015. Republic of Ireland; not messing around here, grab yourself a Guinness. The Swedes are another nation of vodka, in fact Absolut is their most famous brand, I like the black pepper flavoured one in a Bloody Mary. Belgium is ever so famous for beer, if you’ve ever been to a Belgo you’ll understand why. I love their fruity beers, Fruili is dangerously sweet and non-alcoholic tasting, careful with that one.
And finally, Group F. Portugal have many drinks, crisp Vinho Verde and decadent Port as well as Sagres. Since Ronaldo is the hero of the Portuguese team I will pick the characterful fortified wine of his birth place, Madeira. He’s be pleased I’m sure. When I think of wine in Hungary I only think of one thing, Tokaji. A famous sweet wine that puts a smile on my face, it’s a special occasion drink that, served chilled, can work really well with a salty blue cheese. Iceland had really got me thinking but then I remembered last week I was drinking a bottle of Einstok white ale that’s from, you guessed it, Iceland! I’m finishing this rather exhausting blog post with little old Austria. Boy do they know how to make amazing wines. A plethora to chose from but the winner in my eyes is a Gruner Vetliner, bone dry, sharp and limey, aromatic and peppery.
What a lovely excuse to watch football whilst enjoying some new and exciting booze. You are welcome.