Changing tastes I often get asked what my favourite wines are and I find that my tastes change with the seasons.
Now that we are in early summer and the weather is getting hot, I frequently find myself reaching for a bottle of rosé. It has a bit more heft and substance than whites such as sauvignon blanc (which can be too acidic) or pinot grigio (too apple-y).
Rosés, which are made from red wine grapes, have just enough oomph to go with summer fare, such as grilled foods and salads. They're served chilled, which is refreshing, and don't warm you up as much as a red wine would.
Other favourite tipples for the summer? A gin and tonic, made with Hendrick's Gin with Fever-Tree Tonic; I enjoy noshing on the cucumber after it has soaked up a hint of the Hendrick's. The quinine in tonic, by the way, was once included in much larger doses, as an old English remedy for keeping malaria at bay in the tropics.
Come autumn, I am favouring full-bodied sauvignon blancs from the Loire - a Pouilly-Fumé by Domaine Laporte has been a particular favourite. For pinot noirs, anything goes, from New World styles from Oregon, in the United States (I love the aromas of Bing cherries), to easy-on-the wallet Burgundies from lesser-known regions such as Santenay or Morey-St-Denis, in France.
Winter finds me raiding my wine fridges for stronger reds, bottles that have a bit of age to them - such as a Rosso di Montalcino or Valpolicella Ripasso. If it's Bordeaux, I look out for second and third wines from the established houses (which are made from grapes grown on their estates - usually made by the same winemaker - but which are not good enough for the classified growth) because they're more friendly on the wallet. And gran reservas from Rioja rarely disappoint, especially ones from Marques de Caceres, La Rioja Alta, or Viña Tondonia, all of which have wonderful cedary coffee aromas.
Spring finds my palate craving lighter wines - crisp sauvignon blancs and unoaked chardonnays (Chablis usually). If I want red, it's probably merlot, as I find these go with whatever's cooking in my kitchen. Last month I was enjoying Yalumba's viognier - it's available at my local supermarket, and has been a "little black dress" of a bottle as it seems to work with everything, even dim sum.
The one constant is champagne - to me, it has no season and is always a welcome start to an evening with friends. Something about the "pop" that you hear when the cork is released from the bottle makes me think, "Hello, it's time to enjoy!"
Nellie Ming Lee is a food stylist and part-time sommelier studying with the Court of Master Sommeliers.