For wine lovers, nothing says summer like a picnic. What better way to reconnect with friends and family than over a glass of wine and light dishes packed with fresh flavors? A picnic can be as simple or sophisticated as any other meal. Before you plan the menu and make your lists, think about who’s coming and what vibe you’re going for: A spread for a crowd that needs to last through a hot afternoon without wilting? An elegant birthday dinner repast in an orchard? No matter what kind of picnic you’re creating, District 7 wines pair with just about anything you can whip up in the kitchen or gather from your favorite deli and our twist-off closures mean that you don’t need to remember a corkscrew!
Perhaps you have a wonderful old-fashioned picnic basket — or perhaps you’ll just go for some sturdy, flat-bottomed canvas bags and a cooler. It’s a good idea to have one container (or more if needed) that will keep things consistently chilled, preferably insulated, with the addition of some frozen ice packs. Plastic bins and boxes are also possible alternatives to sturdy bags.
There are no set “right foods” to bring to a picnic, but there are certainly dishes to avoid. You want sturdy, you want simple, and you want food that requires very little hands-on action at the picnic itself. You want items that won’t get soggy, that taste great at room temperature and that are either finger or fork foods. Read on for some suggestions of what fares well in transport. And keep in mind that for many of these foods, that chilled cooler is critical.
The lively, crisp and fresh flavors of Sauvignon Blanc make it a smart choice for any outdoor event, especially those held under the hot summer sun. Green salads are a great starter dish to keep your party feeling refreshed and energized. Look for an acidic dressing to really bring out the best of the blanc. Need more ideas? Try serving a chilled glass of Sauvignon Blanc alongside fresh pasta tossed with lemony-herb dressing and veggies.
A chilled bottle of Chardonnay is a classic choice. Depending on the style, this effortlessly elegant wine can boast flavors of crisp apple, citrus, white peach, vanilla and even hints of honeyed oak and ripe nectarine. Take your picnic to the next level with a simple fish dish. Although not the most common picnic offering, a California Chardonnay is the perfect pairing for most seafood, especially chilled, poached salmon or shrimp.
The earthy flavors of Pinot Noir are a great picnic choice, especially considering you’re in the great outdoors. Filled with summer scents and flavors of strawberry, cherry and pomegranate, it’s a versatile red wine option, pairing well with a variety of dishes. This elegant wine is ideal not only for simple deli meats and roast chicken, but also fancier fare such as pâtés and mousses, making this a go-to choice for pretty much any platter. Experiment away!
Cabernet Sauvignon can really awaken your senses. Wild blackberry, raspberry and cocoa powder are just a few of the scents you might pick up when taking your first few sips. Grilled ribs or lamb chops pair remarkably well with Cabernet Sauvignon. The tannins in the wines refresh the palate with each bite, therefore accenting all the distinct flavors of the meat.
It’s always a good idea to lay out everything you are bringing so that you can pack it with the heaviest and sturdiest things on the bottom, and the lighter and more fragile items on top. This is the only sure-fire way to make sure that you don’t find yourself needing to unpack and pack again, or putting the watermelon on top of the cupcakes.
If possible, put the picnic blanket on top — that’s the first thing you want to unpack! And when you are packing perishable foods in a cooler, make sure they go in chilled, and with plenty of ice or ice packs to keep them cold. Larger ice packs or chunks of ice stay frozen longer.
At the picnic site, keep coolers in the shade so that the items inside stay colder longer. And try to serve perishable items, especially mayonnaise-based items, on a blanket or table in the shade.
What could be worse than preparing and packing a delicious meal, only to realize once you get to your destination that you forgot the plates or forks? Make a checklist a few days in advance — it’s the best way to guarantee you won’t forget anything and that your picnic will be about enjoying a leisurely outdoor meal with friends and family.