With spring turning to early summer, lockdown restrictions across the UK are being gradually lifted. At present, a maximum of six people or two households can meet outdoors, but the number is expected to go up to groups of 30 by this time next month. Safe to say, summer barbeques, picnics in the park, and al fresco dining in small groups will be some of the main ways to socialise this summer.
Picnics in the park, a quintessential summer tradition, are largely about broad and light fare. Think cold salads, cheeses and crackers, fresh fruits, and charcuteries, best accompanied with light and crisp wines like whites, rosés, and light reds.
Here’s our list of recommended wines for a park picnic, from supermarket staples to the finer finds of the season.
Crisp white wines
Whites and sparkling wines are a great match for spring ingredients and summer greens.
The French Crémant is dry and sparkling with persistent bubbles and dominant fruity notes of apple, melon, and pear. The acidic core and zesty edges give it a refreshing feel that is ideal for summer. Best paired with appetizers or main meals of seafood and white meat.
A distinctly English countryside wine that has been positioned as the ‘UK’s answer to Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc’ and is also the perfect picnic wine. Highly aromatic and brimming with flavours of elderflower and blackcurrant leaf, with lovely hints of passionfruit, nectarine, and grapefruit.
Chilean Sauvignon Blanc was one of the most interesting wines of last year. The Classics No. 26 is a fresh and zesty white layered with ripe citrus flavours like lime and passionfruit. An excellent pairing with spring greens, vegetarian dishes, goat cheese, and shellfish. It is a leafy and grassy take on the typical Sauv Blanc.
Rosés and blush wines
A good match for the summer because of their light, almost floral flavors. They can be served chilled, and are versatile enough to pair well with a number of picnic staples like cheese and crackers, seafood, salads, or cold chicken.
The rosé in a can is dry and crisp and a match made in Provence for the English summer. Summer berries and apple notes dominate, balanced with a fine level of acidity. The salmon pink is identical to the colour of the can, which is 100% recyclable.
A crowd favourite, this beautiful blush comes in an elegant bottle that promises freshness and easy drinking. The nice depth of lingering strawberry notes is balanced by a mineral finish and a subtle acidity. A good pairing for Mediterranean cuisine.
Another perfect picnic wine, the Ruggeri is a delicate peach-hued prosecco rosé, a wine category that was only officially approved in 2020. This is a restrained but finely textured Prosecco, offering light red fruit aromas and hints of marzipan and cherry blossom. Bubbly and fragrant, it is best enjoyed with desserts, summer salads, or light pasta dishes. Remember the corkscrew.
Lighter red wines like Pinot Noirs, Gamay, and Beaujolais can be carried in a cooler and served with cold cuts and charcuterie. They are mild enough not to overpower picnic foods.
This light red comes from the only winery in France with 100% volcanic soils. It is a somewhat different take on Gamay, with a light texture and deep flavours. Smoky blackcurrants, blueberries, and cherries on the nose and a palate with touches of spice make it a refreshing accompaniment for roast meats and cheese dishes.
A posh blend of Shiraz and Cabernet from Down Under, the Koonunga Hill is silky and smooth and one of the bolder wines in this list for when you are in the mood for meatier fare. A palate of black fruits is balanced with aromas of chocolate and vanilla as well as judicious notes of oak.
A Silver winner at last year’s Decanter World Wine Awards, this light-to-medium-bodied shiraz is a fruity and delicate delight. The cherry-flavoured palate is enlivened with soft tannins and crisp acidity. Pair it with lightly spiced dishes or Middle Eastern food.
When choosing picnic wines, a major factor is their portability. Cans and pouches are easy options but are not how the more sophisticated fine wines are usually sold. Smaller containers also tend to be more expensive pro-rata.
On the other hand, most bottles are now sealed with screwcaps, which removes the need for a corkscrew. Smaller bottles or ‘minis’ of 187ml volume are also a good option for when you want more variety and less weight.