Labor Day is soon approaching, and backyard barbecues don’t need to have all the fun. Picnics are another great way to soak up the last of the summer sun. An easy way to spend a holiday afternoon, picnics require little more than some cutlery, finger foods, a salad or two, and a big blanket. A few bottles of wine, kept comfortably chilled in a small cooler, give an extra special touch to your Labor Day picnic. The following are some of our favorite picnic wines, perfect for the warm September sun and the various dishes of your finger-licking picnic feast.
Dolcetto is a light-bodied red wine from the northern region of Italy. Though its nickname means “little sweet one”, Dolcetto is typically a dry wine. Its light body, smooth tannins and bright fruit make Dolcetto a fine wine for outdoor drinking. Dolcetto often features aromas like blueberry and plum. Dolcetto goes wonderfully with fresh tomatoes and fragrant herbs – drink a bottle with picnic foods like Caprese salad, cured meats and pickled vegetables.
Pinot Gris is typically a medium- to full-bodied white wine, fragrant with aromas of pear and melon. Pinot Gris is less familiar than its cousin Pinot Grigio, though in fact both of these wines come from the same grape. Pinot Gris is produced all over the world, from France to Australia to the United States, and styles range from dry to sweet. An off-dry Pinot Gris is a fantastic picnic wine, pairing well with picnic foods like seafood salad, poached chicken and light cheeses.
Provence, a region in southeastern France not far from Italy and the Mediterranean Sea, epitomizes the ideal of outdoor eating. Provence’s warm weather means foods like tomatoes, eggplant, fennel and artichokes. Rose wines from Provence are full-bodied and intensely aromatic with scents of lavender and rosemary. Provence roses pair well with picnic foods like tuna fish, salad Nicoise, and marinated olives. Garlic lovers should try potato salad made with aioli, a Provence garlic mayonnaise.
Malbec is a red wine mainly produced in Argentina. Malbec appeals to a wide range of wine drinkers, can suit a variety of foods, and usually provides great value for its price. Malbec is a medium- to full-bodied wine, bursting with flavors of plum, cherry and chocolate. If your picnic basket is heavy with meats, be sure to bring along a bottle of Malbec. Picnic foods like roast beef sandwiches, pulled pork and cured meats all go well with Malbec. For an authentic Argentine touch, try making an ensalada rusa, a classic South American potato salad with peas, carrots and onions.
There’s nothing quite like feeling of popping the cork to a bottle of sparkling wine, and the picnic blanket is no space for exceptions. Sparkling wine, with its high acidity and bright bubbles, can easily – and most importantly, enjoyably – stand up to most food pairings. Simple picnic foods also benefit from some sturdy sparkling. Sparkling wines can be light-bodied or full-bodied, dry or sweet, insanely cheap or prohibitively expensive – and everything in between. Sparkling wine pairs especially well with picnic foods like chicken salad, quiche, and strong cheeses like Brie and sharp Cheddar.