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Time to pour away the prosecco... Perry is back - and it's POSHER than ever

Another mini-heatwave looms and an alfresco tipple or two seems only polite. But what shall we drink?This summer's most fashionable thirst-quencher combines prosecco-like bubbles with the floral aroma of a white wine, and might just be Britain's best-kept secret.Once hailed by Napoleon as 'England's champagne', perry — or pear cider, as it's sometimes called — has quietly become 2019's most sophisticated fizz.Perry has been around for centuries — in fact, Babycham, found in drinks cabinets across the nation in the Sixties and Seventies, is a sparkling perry — but over the years it fell out of favour.Back in its heyday Babycham was turned out at the rate of 2.5 million bottles a week. But by the early Nineties, the growing taste for wine saw sales fall to just a million bottles a year.However, our thirst for all things sparkling has grown in recent years, thanks to the success of prosecco. And sales of perry are set to benefit as a result.Today perry has been given a hip, artisanal makeover, with producers using particular vintages and varieties of perry pear (there are more than 100, with wonderfully evocative names such as Merrylegs) to create varying styles, from the chic and bone dry to the elegant yet lusciously sweet.It ticks the fashionable low-alcohol box, too, at anything from 3 per cent ABV to just under 8.5 per cent; even at the higher end of the scale, it's a naturally light option compared to most wines. What's more, it's refreshingly good value, starting at just over £2 a bottle, even in Waitrose!Here, as Inspire's drinks expert, I pick out my summer selection...RIPE AND RUSTICOliver's Fine Perry Medium Season 2017, 330ml, 4 per cent, £2.90, oliversciderandperry.co.ukTom Oliver has been making award-winning cider and perry at his farm in Herefordshire for 20 years, and his philosophy is all about letting the fruit do the talking. This has a nicely rustic note to it, with soft, ripe stone fruit flavours.It's sweet, but with a kick of freshness to balance it. Keep talking, I say. 5/5CITRUS HITWaitrose English Vintage Perry 2017, 500ml, 8 per cent, £2.09, waitrose.comMade in partnership with one of the biggest names in apple cider, H. Weston & Sons in Herefordshire, this is a vintage take on perry with pears from just one year.Medium-dry in style with a light sparkle, this is fairly robust with a snap of green fruit, lashings of lemon-like acidity and a good slug of alcohol. If you like fuller flavours in your glass, this is for you. 3/5GO FOR GOLDApple County Cider Company Blakeney Red Perry, 330ml, 5.5 per cent, £3.50, applecountycider.co.ukFrom Monmouthshire, made by the mop-haired producer Ben Culpin and his wife Steph, this perry comes from just one variety of pear, Blakeney Red.They let natural yeasts do their thing before leaving it for six months to mature and mellow.Lightl ...Read more

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