Better than a pint


Whether celebration or commiseration lies beyond the semi-finals for our nation’s finest footballers, you’ll need something to sip throughout the match. While it’s hard to resist the lure of a pint in the current heat, we consider it our patriotic duty to drink something English; here Jared Ehret suggests the perfect order of play for Wednesday night

The Jules Rimet still gleams. Crosses of St George flutter against brilliant blue skies. The nation swelters, England expects. Years of hurt. Maybe just maybe, dare we to dream? Columbia, Sweden, Croatia – this is no week for Plavac Mali. Zero hour, banners unfurled, God’s graciousness willed unto Her Majesty, fight with us upon this St Crispin’s day. Lions passant sported, intakes of breath, the starting whistle.

Steady the nerves with a bracing G&T, our new London Dry Gin is crisp, refreshing and as smooth as Southgate’s waistcoat. Build into a long, cooling sundowner and toast all that has come before, that tackle by Moore and when Lineker scored. As floral as Danny Rose and precise as a Kane penalty, Jamie Vardy’s drinking it at his next party. Me and me mum and me dad and me gran love it.

Settle in, there will be frights, there will be shocks, but they’ll give it all they’ve got to give for the folks back home. Coddington Vineyard’s Bacchus steps off the bench to inject some fresh energy into play. Light, bright and elegant, this Herefordshire white is the English summer in a glass – it’s Centre Court, Lord’s, and soon Moscow. Elderflower, greengage and conference pears, it’s as versatile as Eric Dier and as upfront as Danny Welbeck. Zippy acid and a clean finish, it all comes together like a well-executed set piece.

VAR is consulted, managers pace, an added minute of extra time before the temporary respite of half-time. A chance to regroup, reflect and refocus on the challenge. You’ve got to hold and give, but do it at the right time. Orange wedges required, Chase Marmalade Vodka acts as the ideal pick-me-up. Straight from the freezer, a quick nip will send us back out with courage. Vincerò!

Ends changed, valour summoned, three quarters of an hour to make history. We will tell of this night for years to come and remember where you were. Make it the occasion it deserves with the nation’s finest fizz. Nyetimber’s Blanc de Blancs is resplendent en magnum and will ensure everybody’s kept in high spirits, it’s a choice as dependable as Pickford’s hands. From the 2007 vintage, its last decade has been considerably more rewarding than England’s football record, and the quality here is superlative. So many jokes, so many sneers, but all those oh-so-nears wear you down through the years, English sparkling now unashamedly sits proudly alongside any other. Imbued with a toasty complexity this will happily accompany an array of match-time snacks; can I introduce you please to a lump of cheddar cheese?

The clock turns red, the players are exhausted, it’s a nail-biting finish. A whole other lion might be needed. Discovery Road’s Four Lions Whisky is called up as a last-minute replacement. With a respectful nod to the Tartan Army, Scotch was never going to cut it tonight. For celebration or commiseration, this small-batch malt will see away those dying seconds, one large ice cube would be ideal on another sticky night. Eighty-one thousand people in the Luzhniki Stadium will watch the referee, millions at home will be silent. “And here comes Hurst! He’s got… Some people are on the pitch!”. It isn’t easy being a football fan, but for better or worse, it will all be over. We’ll go to work the following day, we’ll relive the highs and the lows, the shots and the saves then submit a holiday request for Monday 16th. This is the best of England, and it’s coming home.