Come on summer: Half the fun of picnics is choosing the goodies to put in the basket.
Come on summer: Half the fun of picnics is choosing the goodies to put in the basket.

Perfect wines to take alfresco

By Georgina Crouth Time of article published Nov 25, 2011

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It’s a glorious time of year for picnicking – our mornings start off with great promise and there are beautiful spots calling out for a blanket and a basket. Besides which, who needs encouragement to head outdoors?

Never mind the juice, coffee or beer, selecting the right wine to accompany your picnic spread is key. Coke or water might go with just about anything, but pair devilled eggs with a glass of aged cabernet and you’ll instantly regret it.

For starters, you don’t want something too fussy, expensive, heavy or alcoholic for daytime drinking, and the wine should be complementary to your food selection.

If you don’t want to bother with a corkscrew, screw caps and bubblies are the way to go but that shouldn’t limit your choice.

Think about what you’re taking along on your picnic. The food’s probably going to be cold, or at least served at room temperature, and there has to be some variety, because plain old sarmies just won’t do.

You also need to consider wines that travel well. You don’t want to lug along a cooler box full of ice; it’s impractical – someone’s going to have to carry it – and a pain. So investing in a freezer sleeve is an good idea. That way, your wine stays at an ideal temperature, without the fuss. And remember to take along glasses. Sipping from the bottle is never a good look.

White wines, rosés, or light-bodied reds are the way to go. Generally speaking, they’re lower in alcohol, so you won’t get giddy too soon into your day, and they pair well with picnic food.

Bubblies are my preferred picnic partner but I also have some lovely whites and rosés in mind. Here are some recommendations:

Weltevrede Lindelize brut rosé:

Although its sibling, Entheos – a chardonnay-pinot noir blend – is flying high after winning the top sparkling wine at the Global Traveller’s 2011 Wines on the Wing Airline Wine Competition (out of 136 international wines), this light blush rosé cap classique is no shrinking violet.

Named after owner Philip Jonker’s wife, it’s been created with romance in mind. It will match the ripe strawberries or smoked salmon in your picnic basket. Sells for around R99.

Woolworths Simonsig pinot noir brut rosé:

From the producers of South Africa’s first methóde cap classique, this no-added-sulphur pinot noir brut rosé is an elegant bubbly that ticks all the right boxes. Made exclusively for Woolies, it’s an excel-lent all-rounder, whether it be a cham-pagne breakfast or a picnic in the country-side. And it loves smoked salmon, goat’s milk cheese, oysters or fruit salad. Sells for R99.95.

Pierre Jourdan Cuvée Belle Rose:

Imagine drinking a glass of pink rose petals and you’ll have a fair idea of what to expect from this stylishly feminine cap classique, produced from 100 percent pinot noir.

It’s deceptively dry and a real enchantress.

I’d try this with prawns in a Marie Rose sauce, or even crayfish or mussels, simply steamed.

Sells for R119 (ex cellar).

Lomond Pincushion sauvignon blanc 2007:

For slightly more serious drinking, this aged, single-vineyard wooded sauvig-non blanc stands up well to undressed oysters, goat’s cheese, rich seafood dishes and salads.

It’s a complex wine produced in the blanc fumé style (a wooded sauvignon blanc) and will impress the connoisseurs in your party. In 2008, it was judged the best sau-vignon blanc in the world for under £10. Sells for around R90.

Kleine Zalze Family Reserve sauvignon blanc 2010:

Another Decanter award winner, this blockbuster full-bodied wine received 4½ Platter ratings and a nod from Wine magazine before winning the Decanter World Wine Award for the best South African sauvignon blanc. Produced from grapes grown in five different terroirs, this flinty, herbaceous wine displays typical cool climate characteristics. Sauvignon blanc loves tomatoes and goat’s cheese, so bring out those crackers. Sells for around R120.

Hazendal De Haas white and rosé:

This historic estate is known not only for its collection of precious Russian art, but also producing some of the country’s finest wines under the guidance of winemaker Ronel Wiid. Their second label, De Haas, includes a white (a chenin-sauvignon blend), a rosé (100 percent merlot) and a red (shiraz, merlot and cab). My picnic picks would be their rosé and white – they’re accessible and versatile. The white is good with sushi and a crisp green salad, the rosé with linefish simply prepared. Plus, selling at just R35 a bottle, they’re excellent value for money.

Constantia Saddle rosé:

Described by winemaker Karl Lambour (who has recently left the estate) as “summer in a glass”, which he loves to drink at the poolside, this dry Constantia rosé is made in the classic southern French style, with a crisp and rich palate. It’s perfect for an alfresco lunch, which can mean anything from a boerie roll to a Mediterranean platter. And if you can find some fresh crayfish tails, so much the better. Costs around R50. - The Star

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