How to Pack for the Perfect Wine Picnic
If you’re looking to woo a wine lover, take advantage of good weather and hit the park. Laying down with a loved one, sampling the finer wines and cheeses from local markets is about as romantic as it gets. But to ensure a fine feast with the proper accoutrements, follow these guidelines.
Non-negotiable: Bring a classic whicker picnic basket and blanket. You can find these picnic staples at the local goodwill store or via Pottery Barn or World Market. Some picnic baskets come ready-made with a blanket and the appropriate cutlery. But, if supplying your own cutlery, don’t settle for plastic. Bring nice silverware and wash when you return home. Don’t forget the spreaders for cheeses and jams. Fresh flowers add a nice touch.
Arrange for a quality array of cheeses. Diversify your selection: Think one hard cheese, one soft cheese and one ripened cheese. Tasteful cheese varieties include Asiago, Parmesan, Gouda, mozzarella, provolone, Brie and Gorgonzola. Though with 2000 variations of cheese in the world, feel free to sample your local market or grocer into a customized selection.
Select dried meats that do not require refrigeration such as coppa, speck and salami. Prosciutto is an Italian dry-cured ham that compliments wine and cheese nicely. Bring two or three different meat selections, as you won’t want to skimp on the opportunity to keep your date protein-fueled and the date lasting as long as possible.
Include a mixture of dry and fresh fruits. For dried fruits, compose a collection of cranberries, dates, figs, dried Mangos or apricots. Fresh fruits cleanse the palate and should include a medley of raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, apple slices, fresh figs, cantaloupe, watermelon or grapes. To help decide, ask your picnic mate for his or her favorite fruit, and especially inquire for any allergies.
The cheeses and jams require a vehicle: crackers and bread. Pack a few cracker variations such as almond crackers, light wafers, multi-grain rounds or wheat thins. Include a bread as well: a French baguette, sourdough loaf, rolls or croissants. Feeling ambitious? Nothing beats a home-baked loaf.
Nuts, such as almonds, walnuts, macadamia nuts and cashews, compliment cheese, crackers and dried fruits. Olives, either Kalamata or green varieties, additionally pair well. Don’t forget the sweets: honey, dark chocolate, grilled brown-sugar peaches and jams. Veggies provide refreshing nutrients: grilled eggplant, sliced bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers or avocado.