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Picnic Wines

Jun 29, 2010 12:03AM ● By Erin Frisch

Picnic Wines

Wines to enjoy as the mercury rises

by Linda A. Thompson-Odum

Wine typically doesn’t make most summer beverage lists. Instead, people reach for beer or frozen cocktails as the weather warms. However, with the vast collection of worldwide wines available, many varieties are perfect for summer’s heat and lighter cuisine.

A good summer wine selection is one that will please many palates at cookouts, picnics, and other gatherings. Here are our top 10 picks:

  1. Ermita Rioja Rosé A medium-full bodied red wine from Spain with flavors of strawberry, watermelon, and a little raspberry. It goes well with ham and Mediterranean-style foods—anything made with garlic, olive oil, and salt. ($16.99)
  2. Cappella Sant’ Andrea Vernaccia Di San Gimignano From the Tuscany region of Italy, this white wine pairs with seafood and cold cuts. As far as the flavor goes, think citrus and minerality. ($16.99)
  3. Porta Sauvignon Blanc A classic sauvignon blanc from Chile with citrus and floral characteristics and some minerality. It makes you think of summer and it’s user-friendly with a screw cap. ($13.99)
  4. OS Winery Riesling From a small, family-owned winery in Washington State, this wine is low in alcohol—under 10 percent—which is classic of Rieslings made in the German style. Unlike what most people think of Rieslings, this one is off-dry—not sweet. It is medium-bodied with good balance and flavors of apples and chocolate. It pairs well with ham and other salty dishes. ($20.99)
  5. Amavi Semillon A big, dry wine made with white Bordeaux grapes. Brock likes this wine with scallops since it has flavors of citrus oil, honey, and melon. ($19.99)
  6. Oreana Pinot Noir This California red has flavors of cherry, raspberry, and cola, with a nice smooth texture. Pair it with grilled salmon or other grilled fish, and grilled pork seasoned with a little rosemary. ($18.99)
  7. Ermitage du Pic Saint Loup A French wine that has a dark, almost black, color with a spicy pepper flavor balanced with plumb and violet flavors. It goes well with t-bone steak, rib eye, and lamb. ($18.99)
  8. Familia Mayol Bonarda Made from Argentina’s national grape (bonarda), it is fermented in stainless steel, not oak, which helps to emphasize the aromas of mint-eucalyptus and fruit flavors. It has a silky-smooth texture and pairs well with skirt steak. ($19.99)
  9. Melanto Terrace Zinfandel This is a typical California zinfandel that is very fruit forward. It has flavors of raspberry and a little blackberry, plus chocolate and black pepper. It goes well with anything grilled, but nothing serious. Nothing too spicy or sweet. ($14.99)
  10. Robert Mondavi Private Selection Cabernet Sauvignon The wine has the sweet black cherry and dark berry fruit character that distinguishes California’s finest Cabernet Sauvignons, and its ripe fruit is supported by velvety tannins and well-integrated oak. This is a wine of excellent depth, richness, and length on the palate. ($16.99)
Party Punch

To give wine even more of a summer twist, mix up a pitcher of sangria. This wine punch, which originated in Spain, is a great party beverage and is enjoyed by non-wine drinkers. Feel free to experiment with different fruit and liquor additions, and for a sweeter beverage, use ginger ale instead of club soda to get the fizz.


  • 1 bottle red wine (zinfandel, shiraz, cabernet sauvignon)
  • 1/2 cup brandy
  • 1/4 cup Cointreau
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • 1 orange, sliced
  • 1 lime, sliced
  • 1 cup club soda or ginger ale
Mix all ingredients except the club soda or ginger ale. Chill overnight. Add club soda or ginger ale just before serving.

White Sangria

  • 1 bottle white wine (pinot grigio, sauvignon blanc)
  • 1/2 cup brandy
  • 1/4 cup Cointreau or rum
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 cup orange juice (or try lemon or lime juice or peach nectar)
  • Favorite fruit (sliced orange, lime, and/or lemon; peaches, white grapes, melon, kiwi, strawberries)
  • 1 cup club soda or ginger ale
Mix all ingredients except the club soda or ginger ale. Chill overnight. Add club soda or ginger ale just before serving.

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