It’s hard to go wrong with a dry but fruit-filled rose for sipping outdoors. I’m especially fond of the 2009 Barnard Griffin Sangiovese Rosé. It is hard to resist this mouth-watering strawberry fruit, tangy citrus and herb notes. The concentration of fruit will stand up to the salt and richness of cured meats, and then the acidity will wipe your plate clean. At just $12 a bottle, it’s too delicious not to try.
A picnic requires a lighter wine, bright with acidity and layered with summer fruit flavors. Grochau’s pinot noir, with notes of strawberry, red cherry, and brambly berry fruit, fits the occasion perfectly. Pack your basket with an assortment of meats, and enjoy how the wine changes with partnership. The spicy, sweet, and/or smokey character will be well supported by the pinot’s red fruit flavors, and the meat will also help to enhance the savory layers of charred wood and fresh compost that linger in the background of this wine.
Finding a wine to drink alongside bratwurst is one thing, finding something that can also balance the brat’s mustard and saurkraut condiments is something else entirely. This is something best tackled head on, with a bold, flavor-dense wine like Brian Carter’s unconventional white blend, Oriana. A unique combination of viognier and roussanne and riesling, the wine emphasizes the intensely aromatic character of the grapes, with prominent notes of peach, apricot, and honeysuckle dominating the nose. A hint of sweetness harmonizes the components.
Like a sundress discovered in the back of a winter closet, the Vitae Springs pinot gris reminds me that it is almost summer. It’s the perfect wine for dining outdoors in beautiful weather. With added weight and texture from eight months of lees aging, the wine has enough heft to stand alongside any food on the menu. But most important, the wine has the zippy acidity to cut through the richness of the food. In addition to orchid blossoms, white peaches and ripe apples on the nose, there is stony minerality and hints of baking spice that add to the complexity of each plate-cleansing sip.
There is a happy-go-lucky, Creamsicle quality to Jesse Lange’s ebullient chard that makes you want to sip it all evening long. Maturation in neutral stainless steel means this wine isn’t okay, instead, spritzy honeydew and papaya create a juicy counterpoint for salty and fatty fare while a rich, smooth mouth feel contrasts satisfyingly with the crunch of a chicken’s crust. Whether you pick up the 2008 or 2009, don’t be afraid to pair this equal opportunity wine with everything from a ketchup-slathered hot dog to an elegant almond tart.