It’s that time of year when the days are warm and we long to be outside. A romantic picnic is always one of our best options for getting outside with someone special and making a few great memories in the process. But there is one essential ingredient for romance, whether you’re on a picnic in an unimaginably idyllic setting or improvising a picnic in the backyard. And that’s a picnic wine.
What makes the best picnic wine?
My criteria for a wine for a romantic picnic – or any picnic – are pretty basic:
- The wine should be affordable
- It should be something that can travel well
- It should be refreshing
- If you’re driving to your picnic spot, it should be low alcohol
In other words, my recommendation for a summer picnic wine is generally something white, or possibly a pretty and romantic pink.
Of course, the wine doesn’t necessarily have to be white. Let me clarify my main criteria a little further.
Why inexpensive wines are the smart choice for picnicking
You don’t have to buy an inexpensive wine for a picnic but I recommend it for a variety of reasons. First of all, you probably won’t take your best stemware along, unless you’re picnicking at home. And some wines really do deserve great stemware.
Second of all, great wine deserves to be appreciated and in the case of a picnic, the wine is generally secondary to the setting, at least, if you’ve chosen your picnic setting well. So save the great wines for occasions with fewer distractions.
And keep in mind that the wine should travel well. So don’t bring an older, possibly fragile wine that can’t hold up to some jostling, if you’re planning on walking very far. And if you’re bringing sparkling wine, be careful to ensure that the bottle doesn’t get shaken.
The wine should also be thirst-quenching, particularly if you’re hiking to your picnic destination. But this also holds true for the backyard, if you’re picnicking on a hot day.
This is the primary reason I recommend white wines as picnic wines. A refreshing, high-acid white wine like a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc can taste incredible on a warm, summer day. You may also want to look to lesser-known white wine varieties that tend to have good acidity and low alcohol like Vinho Verde and Grüner Veltliner.
My picnic wine recommendations at the end of this article all fit this description. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t take a red wine on a picnic.
What is a good red wine for a picnic?
If you want a picnic red wine, choose something with bright red fruit flavors that can be served chilled and is easy to drink. The French would call them vins de soif. Consider red wines from Beaujolais, Cabernet Franc from France’s Loire region, Dolcetto or even lighter-bodied Pinot Noir.
Or you could try my new favorite summer red, Anarchist Wine Company’s Piquette. The winery calls it a rosé but it is more of a dry, light-bodied red to me. Faintly effervescent and low in alcohol at about 7% ABV, it offers sour cherry and red currant flavor with a faint note of fresh-cut herbs. It is food-friendly and fun.
Why you should choose low alcohol wines for a wine picnic
I recommend low-alcohol wines. The obvious reason is to reduce incidents of drunk driving. However, there are a couple of reasons to drink less alcohol on a picnic even if you don’t have to drive.
Alcohol may increase your skin’s sensitivity to sunlight. One German study in 2013 concluded that after 3 drinks, male test subjects were at significantly greater risk to sun damage.
Drinking wine in the sun also puts you at greater risk for dehydration and even heat stroke. So drinking lower alcohol wines in moderation is the safe way to go to help make sure your picnic is memorable for the pleasure, not pain.
Some notes on choosing romantic picnic wines
My criteria for wines for a picnic work for any kind of picnic. But if you have romance in mind, there is something else to consider for choosing the best picnic wine.
And that’s finding a wine with aphrodisiac properties.
Now, of course, all wines have a reputation as an aphrodisiac. Here’s some additional information on what makes wine an aphrodisiac. But some wines also offer elements in their aroma that are believed to replicate human pheromones. These are receptors of attraction that go off in our subconscious. Unsure what that means? Here’s my guide to finding wines with pheromone-like scents.
5 wine recommendations for your next wine picnic
Just to help you figure out your next wine picnic, I’ve made a list of some wines I can recommend that fit all of my criteria for a great picnic wine, (and also have the potential to spark some romance).
I chose these wines because they are all inexpensive and pretty widely distributed, so you should be able to find them where you live. They’re also refreshing and should pair nicely with whatever foods you choose to pack in your picnic basket.
Les Vignerons de St. Hilaire D’Ozilhan Prestige Blanc, Côtes du Rhône
This fun wine from the south of France is a sound investment for around $12. It’s a great break from the typical whites we reach for in summer, like Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio. A blend of four grapes, it’s a fairly complex wine. It’s got bright, floral aromas and luscious flavors of honeydew and Crenshaw melon.
Chateau St. Michelle Pinot Gris, Columbia Valley Washington
Another white that’s a bit of departure from the norm, this one comes from a little closer to home. It’s got great body and is in fact, one of the best buy wines I’ve tried this summer. It has sweet and juicy melon and pear flavors balanced by great lemon acidity.
NV Gruet Blanc de Noirs Sparkling Wine, New Mexico
This is my new, summer go-to bubbly in the $15 price range. I’ve been a fan of this New Mexican sparkling wine house for years but I hadn’t had the Blanc de Noirs in some time. I sure was glad to bump into it when I ducked into a local wine shop. It has great balance, compelling berry flavors and nice toast. But it’s the texture that has me hooked. Creamy with a finessed fizz, it is incredibly elegant for the price.
Matua Rosé, Marlborough New Zealand
There are so many dry rosés you could choose for romantic picnic sipping. But this one is a solid choice in the $10 range. And the fact that it comes from New Zealand gives it an air of the exotic. If you want a wine that tastes like you’re drinking the best of summer fruit, you’re bound to enjoy this rosé.
Louis Jadot Beaujolais Village
A very nice red wine in the $15 range, it’s an easy-drinking pour made from Gamay grapes. Because it is made by carbonic maceration, (a quick fermentation method) it has big, juicy, sweet aromas. Flavors are of ripe cherries with a hint of exotic spice. A medium-bodied wine, it’s a good picnic wine to serve with food pairings like chicken or pork or a great charcuterie plate. I recommend chilling the wine slightly for ultimate picnic refreshment.
More tips for a memorable romantic picnic with wine
There’s more to a great picnic than just the wine (although I consider wine to be one of the most essential ingredients). If you need some inspiration for the other elements of a successful picnic, here are some articles that may help you create the picnic of your dreams:
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