9 wines for a Memorial Day picnic

Don’t grill out on Memorial Day.

Be different. Have a picnic. A proper one, with wicker basket, checkered table cloth, real silverware, at least your second-best china and glasses made of, y’know, glass.

Find a nice park. Go to the nearest woods. To the beach. To a bluff overlooking an ocean. To a riverbank. Aboard a boat. In the back seat of your car if it rains.

Have a feast. Cold fried chicken. Cold pastrami sandwiches on rye bread, slathered with grainy, green-peppercorn mustard. Potato salad. Coleslaw. Gooey aged brie on crusty chunks of French bread. Big radishes spread with butter (the French like that). Deviled eggs garnished with bright red salmon roe. Cold, sliced roast beef wrapped around pickle spears. Slices of summer sausage.

Have dessert. Watermelon. Brownies. Hard cheese and walnuts.

Wine? Of course. All kinds.

Pack a cooler with ice. White and rosé wines are best cool, and even the light-bodied reds that go with picnic foods are best a little cool. I don’t recommend heavy-duty cabernet sauvignon or tannic barolos for picnic eats. Those were for back when you were grilling.

Here are some good picnic wines.

— Sparkling wine is great for picnics. Spain’s inexpensive cavas or Italy’s lightweight prosecco are great with picnic foods. Fried chicken and bubbly are a great pairing. Bubbly also goes with hard-to-pair foods like deviled eggs and those buttery radishes.

— Light, crisp and lively whites like pinot grigio, nicely cooled, for those chicken salad and egg salad sandwiches. Richer whites like chardonnay for those lobster rolls.

— Rosé wines, lightly chilled, are great for picnics.

— Light, cool red wines are for tuna salad, those wonderful pastrami sandwiches and all kinds of cold roast beef.

Now for dessert. Bubbly also goes with watermelon. Cut out a plug from the melon’s skin, poke a wooden spoon inside to open up some space and pour in a bottle of sparkling wine, maybe an off-dry one. Bring big straws.



— 2014 Mud House Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand: aromas and flavors of white grapefruit, light and lively, tart finish; $17.

— 2013 Olema Pinot Noir, Sonoma County, Calif.: aromas and flavors of black cherries, espresso and earth, smooth finish; $20.


— 2014 Nielson Chardonnay, by Byron, Santa Barbara County, Calif.: light and crisp, with flavors of lemons, limes and mangos, smooth finish; $16.

— 2014 DaVinci Chianti DOCG, Italy: aromas and flavors of red plums and espresso, light body, smooth; $15.

— Nonvintage Freixenet Cordon Negro Cava (sparkling wine), Spain: active bubbles, light and lively, with green apple flavors; $12.

— 2014 Paragon Vineyard Chardonnay, by True Myth, Edna Valley, San Luis Obispo, Calif.: crisp and rich, with aromas and flavors of pineapples, peaches and minerals; $18.

— 2014 Ghost Pines Zinfandel, San Joaquin, Sonoma and Lake counties, Calif.: hint of oak, lean and crisp, with aromas and flavors of black raspberries and black coffee; $20.

— 2014 HandCraft Pinot Grigio, California: aromas of white flowers, flavors of lemons, limes and melons, light and crisp; $12.

— 2015 Casillero del Diablo Rosé, by Concha y Toro, Chile: light and crisp, with aromas and flavors of tart strawberries and cinnamon; $11.

— Nonvintage Ruffino Extra Dry Sparkling Rosé, Italy: pale pink hue, lightly sparkling, lightly sweet, crisp, with strawberry flavors; $15.