Monday, September 15, 2008

Joanna Simon in The Sunday Times, August 24, 2008: Picnic Provisions

The severe view of picnic provisions, courtesy of a friend of mine, is that the wine should have enough flavour and guts to stand up to dilution by rain and the food should fit into a raincoat pocket. I wouldn’t go that far, but I take the point.

Picnic wine usually has to stand up to a bit of rough handling of some kind, whether traditional bank holiday downpours, soaring temperatures or a bumpy ride, so it’s a waste to pull out a precious or delicate bottle. Besides, picnic menus aren’t usually suitable for over-subtle wines. You are far more likely to be eating garlicky chicken, spicy salami and herby dips than you are dover sole. So go for wines with fruit, flavour and zing.

But even before you think about the taste, I suggest you commit yourself to screwcaps (or the smart glass stoppers that are beginning to appear on more expensive wines). It’s not just that you won’t have to fuss with a corkcrew; you will be spared the risk of a musty ‘corked’ wine when you are miles from the nearest replacement. Three screwcapped bottles below.

Canaletto Montepulciano di Abruzzo, £4.99
Full, soft red with cherry, smoke, spice and dark chocolate flavours (Sainsbury’s; also 25cl bottles, £2.09).

2007 Margaret River Semillon Sauvignon, £7.99
Zesty herbal and mineral flavours with a whiff of sweet smoke (Marks & Spencer).

2007 Bonterra RosĂ©, £9.99
Juicy, raspberryish Californian blend of sangiovese, zinfandel and grenache. Organic (Waitrose).