Chilled at the seaside
Don’t bring your finest wine down to the beach for a picnic – take something fresh and fruity instead, writes JOHN WILSON
MY FIRST RULE for drinking wine on the beach: it must be cheap. There is absolutely no point in bringing your finest wine down to the seaside for a picnic. All of those lovely complex aromas will simply disappear. It is far better to go for something simple – fresh and fruity.
As this is likely to be a daytime event, you don’t want anything too alcoholic, so steer clear of any wine that registers above 13 per cent alcohol. A light, fresh, white wine of any description will always go down well – a Sauvignon, Pinot Grigio, my old favourite Riesling, a vinho verde from Portugal or even a Prosecco. There are plenty of options.
However, rosé wines are probably the best picnic wines of all. Not only do they shout sun, they go very nicely with a wide range of foods, including cold red meats. Try to avoid the richer styles. Any of those featured in this column a few weeks back would do perfectly.
Many people don’t think of red wines for drinking outdoors, unless having a barbecue, but a light fruity tannin-free red that can be served lightly chilled is one of my favourite options. Again don’t choose anything too powerful. Beaujolais would be perfect (although a little pricey) but the south of France, Loire Valley and parts of Australia are now producing plenty of juicy, easy-drinking lower-alcohol reds. Warm red wine is unpleasant, so don’t be afraid to use the chill-bag for reds as well as white wines (they will heat up quickly) or leave it for a few minutes in a rock-pool.
You could also consider making some sangria before you leave home. Just add some fresh fruit, a dash of orange juice, sparkling water or citrus-flavoured soda to a bottle of red wine. Alternatively make a sangria blanca with white wine. Either way, serve well chilled.
Do remember to bring the necessary accessories. A nearby rock-pool is ideal, provided is doesn’t get too warm, but a chill-bag is perfect. Some even have compartments for your glasses. Speaking of which, you wouldn’t need to take your best Riedel glasses; this is probably the one occasion when it is okay to use plastic tumblers, but a robust glass or beaker is much better. Lastly, don’t forget the corkscrew (unless, of course the wine is screw-cap).
BOTTLES FOR THE BEACH
Falanghina IGT Beneventano 2011, 12%, €8.79Marks Spencer has a very good range of inexpensive white wines at the moment, including several from France at less than €9, but I was very taken with this Italian wine from Campania. Most wines made from the Falanghina grape cost in excess of €15, but this version has very appealing succulent melon fruits that would go down nicely with salads, fish and white meats. Stockist: Marks Spencer