Drink - Roger Scruton tries a beaker of the warm south

A glass of rosé under English skies is a true "beaker of the warm south"

Rosé belongs in the south, and a rosé de Provence, sipped as the sun declines, amid an odour of myrrh, thyme and mulberry, provides to the withered English soul a rejuvenating gust of romance. It is not the taste that excites, but the colour, so suggestive of youth, carelessness and a life just begun. If the rosé has bubbles, those ideas receive an added pneumatic boost, and a mousseux rosé under bleak English skies is a true "beaker of the warm south", driving out thoughts of age and grief and winter. Corney & Barrow's extraordinary example - a Pinot Noir from Burgundy, with a full champagne head and the most delicate salmon colour - fully persuaded me that the Burgundians have at last found the solution to overproduction and that this alternative use for their grapes will cause a civil war with the vignerons of Champagne. Serve it as pink champagne and your guests will never realise the deception; better still, keep it for yourself and make every day a birthday.

The Domaine de Montaubéron is a more earthy product, which survived our pasta and pesto, and carried enough raspberry flavour to vanquish an impertinent Camembert. You could drink this with just about anything, and it will always come through, with a toothy smile and suntanned finish that shine across the food like a grinning contadina across a field of corn. Rosé of this quality should be treated with a coarse, flirtatious camaraderie and neither sniffed at nor sniffed over as it flows in cool streams from the bottle.

The Chardonnay from the Marquis de Lissac is quite another experience. Although only a vin de pays from that mysterious Côtes de Thongue, it combines rich, grapey flavour with crispness of attack, and aristocratic manners with sensual allure. This is a wine that sits pertly in your mouth, waiting for you to undress it and swallow it whole. It is a real tribute to the Côtes de Thongue, and if you were looking for proof that there is well-made Chardonnay outside Burgundy that still tastes of France and not Australia, here it is.

I have a soft spot for the red wines of the Loire, especially those from Bourgueil and thereabouts, where the dominant grape is the Cabernet Franc. In Anjou, the preferred varietal is the rounder and more forward Cabernet Sauvignon, from which the well-known sweetish rosé is made. When allowed to macerate into a red, the result is a sweetly scented wine with a good structure of tannin beneath a full and spicy palate. Many people prefer it chilled, either as an aperitif or with a summer salad. In fact, as this example from Frédéric Mabileau shows, Anjou reds are warm, robust dinner wines, which flower at room temperature into flag-waving cheerleaders for the cook.

Roger Scruton is a philosopher and countryside campaigner as well as an author and broadcaster. Widely regarded as one of Britain’s leading right wing thinkers, his publications include the Meaning of Conservatism. He has also written on fox hunting.

This article first appeared in the 01 May 2006 issue of the New Statesman, Wealth and terror