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  • Writer's pictureClaire @ fromthegrapevine

Great wines for picnics


Picture of a picnic with wine

July is National Picnic Month, and if we get decent weather, we may as well join in. If you want the perfect wine recommendation, you have many options, including red, white, pink and fizz. A good picnic wine is refreshing, balanced, and pairs well with the foods you pack. Picnics are all about the food, company, and of course, the perfect wine(s) to pair with all of that.

The wines you serve at a barbecue aren't necessarily the same as those you'd serve for a picnic. Barbecues are also another summer "must do" activity, but the style of flavor in barbecue calls for a different type of wine than foods prepared for picnics. Barbecue is all about bold, meaty and spicy, while picnics are more broad and lighter fare. Think about all the classic picnic foods, and you'll quickly realize that most of the foods are cold and mostly on the lighter side. Potato salad, cold chicken pieces, cheeses and crackers, charcuterie and fresh bread, ripe fruit in season, and more. Before we go on to the best picnic wines, a few other things to consider:

Picnic wine essentials:

1) Remember the corkscrew. It sounds obvious, but without one you’ll risk cutting off your digits by improvising with a knife. Alternatively, take screwcap wines.

2) Ice or ice packs. Nobody likes warm wine so you’re probably going to need a way of keeping the wine cool. Once chilled, wine will retain its cool temperature if stored on ice, or alternatively you can invest in a wine sleeve. By storing the sleeve in the freezer, simply slip it around the bottle to take it with you and it will keep it cool.

3) Glasses. Chances are that you won’t have the latest grape-specific wine glass to hand. Instead, plastic cups can do the job, at a stretch – if not too big or flimsy and the wine is kept cool and fresh. But real glass provides a better experience and the environment will thank you. You could consider ordering a picnic wine glass holder: Because life is too short to spend time balancing a wine glass on blades of grass.

So, onto the wines.

White Wines

Crisp, delicious white wines are an excellent match in most picnic situations. Sauvignon Blanc and Fumé Blanc wines are dry, crisp, herbal whites that are ideal for sipping on a warm summer’s day. They won't overpower picnic food. Look in the New Zealand section of the wine aisle and most Marlborough wines will be wonderful Sauvignon Blanc. We also recommend Touraine Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire Valley - Aldi have a great example in their exquisite collectionfor £5.89

Chenin Blanc, Pinot Gris (also called Pinot Grigio), and Pinot Blanc are fruitier but still light and perfect for a picnic. They are bright, acidic, and loaded with crisp citrus fruit and minerality. Lighter white wines like this make the food come to life while refreshing your palate. We recommend Freeman’s Bay Pinot Gris, Gisborne New Zealand - Currently in Aldi, great value at £5.99 Try a dry Riesling, which has crisp acidity and light mineral flavors that pair well with spicy foods such as charcuterie. We recommend a Clare Valley Riesling, there's a good example from Lidl at £6.99 Clare Valley has established itself as the best place in Australia to grow Riesling.

Rosé Wines Are Easy Drinkers for Picnics

Many people enjoy crisp rosé or blush wines in the summer because of their light, almost floral flavors. They are so versatile that they are a must-pack with your picnics. Serve rosé wines chilled as you would whites. These lightly acidic wines offer fruit flavors such as melon/strawberry/red fruit qualities that pair well with cheese and crackers, seafood, salads, or cold chicken. The nice thing about rosé is it's also inexpensive.

You can get brash, gluggable rosé, such as the confusingly titled White Zinfandel for around £5 in any supermarket, but for something more delicate and subtle, try a barely pink rosé from Provence. These tend to be around the £8-£10 range, but we were impressed with the Vitis Nostra Pinot Noir rosé, from Bardolino in Italy. Available from Morrisons at a reasonable £5.50.

Light Red Picnic Wines

For picnics, choose a light bodied red wine. Anything with high alcohol, high tannin or heavy and brooding will overpower any of the foods you bring to the picnic. So you need to find something that is lighter and with less alcohol. What fits that bill?

Pinot Noir, Gamay, and Beaujolais are all lighter red wine choices that go well with picnics, particularly charcuterie and cold cuts. While these wines don't need to be served as chilled as the white and rosé wines, they also aren't great when they are warm, so carry them in the cooler.

We recommend Moillard Red Burgundy2017. It’s made from the gamay grape (which is the one that goes into Beaujolais wines), and is available from Tesco at £12.

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