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.
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:
The Art of Outdoor Dining
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