If the temperature in the north of England exceeds 20ºC (about 68ºF), we declare an immediate heatwave. Our local council issues emergency supplies of sunscreen and an army of ice cream vans is deployed, much in the same way that road gritters are when it snows. Absence rates at work soar and air conditioning units fail as they finally make a diffident, laboured switch from heating to cooling.
I write this in West Yorkshire, where temperatures today headed towards 30ºC/86ºF. Panic stations.
Half of my current worklife is spent in Florida where, at such temperatures, people reach for their woollen socks, and fur coats sell faster than beach towels.
In either geography, one thing to remember is that wine rises in temperature almost as quickly as mercury. That cheeky young Claret, opened at 16ºC, hits 25 in ten minutes of hot sun. A zingy Sauvignon Blanc, carefully crafted by Jane Hunter, or one of her countrymen, turns flat and lifeless, worthless, unless kept below 10 degrees. So, what can we do?
I recommend chilling any wine much cooler than serving temperature, and pouring in small measures. A barbecue at Wino Towers last weekend saw my Rhone red in an ice bucket for the duration of the afternoon. (OK, I lied, it took two bottles to last the full afternoon).
Try to keep your glasses out of direct sun and above all, drink as quickly as possible. At least this will make you forget how bad warm wine tastes.