Oenophiles Head Outdoors

When choosing wine for a picnic, I’ve found that less is more. A simple, balanced wine with straightforward flavors is the best accompaniment to outdoor fare and warm, sunny days. In fact, some of my most memorable wine experiences have been with uncomplicated (and inexpensive) wines drunk while enjoying cheese out in the fresh air. Ironically, these wines don’t score too highly in the wine press, which tends to favor styles that make dramatic statements. My advice? When shopping for your next picnic wine, forget about points and ask your salesperson for wines that are simply delicious and fun.

Carpene-Malvolti Prosecco NV Brut, Italy $13.50
Light and refreshing with gentle peach and herbal notes. Dry with a soft spritz that sings with chevre, strawberries and Triscuits.

Bloom Petals Müller Thurgau, Mosel Germany 2004 $8.50
Simple but oh-so-delicious. Light and off-dry with subtle pear notes. Ideal with chicken salad sandwiches and salt-and-vinegar potato chips.

L'Hortus Rosé de Saigne, Languedoc,France $12
Dry pink wine made mostly from Syrah. Nice hint of raspberry and black pepper. Try with ham sandwiches on crusty bread with lots of mayo.

Villa Giada Barbera d' Asti "Suri," Piedmont, Italy 2005 $9.50
A juicy, fruity red that drinks like a dry, burly Beaujolais. Lovely with hard sausages and pungent cheeses. Listed in order of increasing weight/intensity. Available at Madison’s finer wine stores. If unavailable, most purveyors will special order from their wholesalers if requested. Michael Kwas is wine director at L’Étoile restaurant. He writes this column monthly.

Madison Magazine - June 2007
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