Ray Isle (@islewine on Twitter) is Food & Wine's executive wine editor. We trust his every cork pop and decant – and the man can sniff out a bargain to boot. Take it away, Ray.
It’s a bit of a mystery to me why International Picnic Day should fall on a Tuesday. After all, Tuesday isn’t exactly the easiest day for a picnic, at least if you’re employed. I’m also a little puzzled as to the difference between National Picnic Day, which falls on April 23, and International Picnic Day, which is today. Perhaps we’re all supposed to go have a picnic in Provence?
Regardless, any excuse for a picnic is a good one, so what the heck.
There are a few useful tips regarding bringing wine to your picnic, which I feel are worth knowing, since any picnic is improved by the presence of wine.
First, know the rules. In New York City, for instance, all open containers of alcohol are banned at parks and beaches. Most public beaches prohibit glass containers (pretty easy to see why - the beach is much less fun if you’ve got lacerated feet). However, some national parks do permit alcohol consumption; check the National Park Service website for rules specific to each park. For instance, at White Sands National Monument, alcohol is banned during February, March, April and May, but not other times.
Second, consider the temperature. Summer is hot; it doesn’t take to long for wine to get hot, too. My advice is to chill all the wine you’re bringing to a picnic, whether white or red. The reds will quickly rise to a pleasant drinking temperature once you’re at your destination.
Third, consider travel and temperature. If you’ve got your wine (and your cold roast chicken, potato salad, brownies, and what have you) in the trunk of your car on a hot day, you will soon have hot wine unless you put it in a cooler. And hot wine is revolting, unless it’s December and you’re picnicking on a ski slope. (And when it comes to travel, of course, don’t drink and drive.)
Finally, some wines just seem particularly suited to picnicking. Bright, unoaked whites, such as Sauvignon Blancs, Albariños from Spain, Vermentinos from Italy’s coastal wine regions, and dry Rieslings are all great options. Dry rosé - as opposed to white zinfandel - and particularly the crisp rosés of southern France (Provence, Languedoc, the Rhône Valley) are classic picnic choices.
If you are in a red mood, try lighter reds such as Beaujolais, lighter-bodied Pinot Noirs (for instance from Oregon’s Willamette Valley), Zweigelt from Austria (little known, but delicious with a slight chill), Barberas from Italy’s Piedmont region, and so on.
And don’t forget wine’s secret virtue when it comes to picnics: ants don’t like it.
More from Food & Wine:
Best Burgers in the U.S.
America’s Best Lobster Rolls
Incredible Fried Chicken
Make-Ahead Picnic Salads
Summer Grilling Recipes
The Art of Outdoor Dining
Make your tailgate a touchdown
5 picnic no-nos
How to use grilling leftovers
Bring your indoor favorite to the great outdoors
Make a Mexican-inspired outdoor feast
© 2011 American Express Publishing Corporation. All rights reserved.
I learned how to Tip Cows from the Best ( The Queen of Everything ) during a recent trip through Indiana. Night Vision Goggles ( so you don't step in the pile ) and select curse words against Kentucky which will mesmerize the cow in the field. Yep, Corn fed girls are the Best.
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