A Tisket, A Tasket: The elements of wine and picnics

With summer here, it’s time to rush outside and enjoy life while sprawled out under a tree. Add a soft blanket, a good friend and a bottle of light wine — and you have the ingredients for a picnic. Outdoor movies, concerts and fireworks provide the perfect opportunity to dine under a canopy of clouds. The wine you choose should be simple — made for sharing, not analyzing or swishing.

Before packing a picnic, it’s best to chill the wine. Forget the archaic tales of drinking only room-temperature red wines. It’s perfectly fine to refrigerate reds, as long as you don’t forget them in the freezer. Same thing goes for whites, which lose their flavor when they’re too cold. But for keeping the wine temperate during the journey to the perfect picnic spot, there’s a cool gadget called Vacu Vin Guy Rapid Ice Wine Chiller. This handy frozen girdle fits around a wine bottle and keeps it chilled for up to two hours when kept in a cooler. Comes in several funky designs and refreezes easily. It costs around $10.

When choosing your picnic wine, keep the wine uncomplicated and fun, rather than tannic-laden, acerbic or buttery, which might mask lighter picnic fare like salads and roast chicken. But for heavier red meats, reach for a chilled Pinot Noir or fruitier Red Zinfandel. Hotter days call for Sauvignon Blanc, and if you’re serving up spicy foods, add a slightly sweet Riesling to your basket. For added ease and to avoid lugging and hassling with a corkscrew, pack a Stelvin screwtop wine (a great conversation piece) or a bottle of bubbly.

So whether you’re headed to the beach, the mountains or a cool river, spread out the blanket, grab glasses and go at it.

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