Selecting The Perfect Picnic Wine

Everybody in Texas knows what to do when the first bluebonnets, Indian paintbrushes and other wildflowers pop out of the ground with that initial breath of spring: sit in the middle of them and have somebody take your picture.

But if you want to stick around longer, you can plan a wine picnic that’s the perfect celebration of the season. At least then you can toast Lady Bird Johnson, who made this beloved Texas tradition a floral reality.

Even in Texas, there are days when it’s neither too hot nor too cold, when the sun warms gently from the center of a blue sky. Whether your taste runs to fried chicken with potato salad or duck pate with cornichons, choose a perfect picnic wine to enjoy along side.

A few general notions apply. Affordable wines are best—it would be the rare picnic built around or able to handle that 1947 Bordeaux you acquired at an auction in London. It’s simply not the time or the place. Since a picnic is different from a barbecue, in Texas or anywhere else, the foods tend to be lighter than a heavy steak ripped sizzling from the grill. White wines, therefore, rule at picnics, along with a category I’ve become increasingly fond of lately, rosés.

Among the whites, sauvignon blancs provide a crisp and refreshing medley of citrus notes and minerality–and a brightness that will just make you happy to be outside. Searching along the same lines for other grape varietals, you might try chenin blanc, pinot gris and pinot blanc with almost any popular picnic fare. Foods like cold fried chicken abandon their inner redneck when paired with such a wine, especially when there’s a crusty-chewy French loaf to tear from.

With warm winds across the Mediterranean, rosés are eternal in Provence. If you feel like splurging, the famous rosés from Tavel should make a great impression, as should any up-and-comer from Bandol.

Whichever you choose, be sure to throw a wine key in the basket and enjoy the sights, the smells and the company.

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