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Picnic wine recommendations for the summer

Plan the perfect picnic by packing the right wines...

So, the sun is beginning to shine with purpose and your thoughts are turning to sitting outside in a park or on the beach with a picnic. Will summer 2023 see a repeat of 2022’s heatwaves? Regardless, as the mercury rises, al fresco eating and drinking is going to be one of the main ways to socialise this summer.

As well as packing the antipasti, crudités and more snacks than strictly necessary, it makes sense to slip in a bottle or two.

Picnic wine essentials to pack

  • A corkscrew. It sounds obvious, but without one you’ll be left resorting to that YouTube video you once saw about someone opening wine with a shoe. Screwcap wines are the obvious alternative, or think inside the box and discover how the quality of bag in box wines has gone through the roof in recent times.  Or perhaps take a characterful sparkler.
  • Ice or ice packs. If you’re going for white, rosé, sparkling or even a light red wine, then you’re probably going to need a way of keeping the wine cool. If you’re already out and about, head to the nearest shop and buy ice and salt.
  • Glasses. Chances are that you won’t have the latest grape-specific wine glass to hand. Instead, plastic cups can do the job, at a stretch – if not too big or flimsy and the wine is kept cool and fresh. But real glass – even a simple tumbler – provides a better experience and the environment will thank you. Or, try out the growing trend for canned wineswe’ve even listed some of our recommended ones below.
  • Consider ordering a picnic wine glass holder: Because life is too short to spend time balancing a wine glass on blades of grass.

But the question is, which wines should you take? We’ve rounded up some ideal picnic wines, rated by our experts.

If it’s sparkling wine you’re looking for, there’s a recommended Cava which shows ‘a twist of lime zestiness and mouthwatering acidity to keep it fresh and lively’. Or there are a raft of other sparkling wines which may take your fancy, or you could dabble in a touch of luxury with a bottle of rosé Champagne.

There’s the ‘waft of sweet, fleshy peach perfume’ belonging to a Chilean Riesling from one of the country’s largest yet most respected producers, or a gently sparkling, ‘attractive and fruity’ canned wine from the Cotswolds. Both would be great matches for seasonal asparagus dishes, as well as other spring ingredients.

When the sun comes out, many of us think pink and Provence. We’ve highlighted a classic, what with its ‘spicy red currant fruit, spice and white flower notes’  Or, for ultimate convenience, there’s an organic, Sicilian rosé straight from an easily chillable can.

For the reds, plan ahead and go for a style that works when served slightly chilled – like the Beaujolais below, which is ‘so perfect for summer drinking’. Or a Pinot Noir which is a partnership between a UK supermarket and one of Chile’s biggest names, and rewards with ‘savoury, gamy notes, stewed red cherry and strawberry on the nose’.

Top picnic wine recommendations:

First published in 2016. Updated and with new wine recommendations June 2023.

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