There’s nothing better than making the most of the last of the summer sunshine by packing a picnic and heading out into the Great Outdoors.
But, while most of us tend to concentrate on the food we’re taking, throwing in a bottle of something sparkling as an afterthought, the right wines can turn a simple picnic into a really special experience. Spanish wines are without doubt some of the best wines to pair with picnic food, but which are the best Spanish grape types to choose to go with your outdoor feast?
With smoked salmon
Nothing says summer like a rosé and the Ochoa Rosado de Lagrima is one of the prettiest pinks around. A blend of the Spanish grape types Garnacha, Tempranillo and Merlot, it’s plump and fruity, softening out the smoky flavours. Or while it may be a cliché to have sparkling wine with a picnic, clichés become clichés because they work. Another option with smoky flavours is the Augusti Torello Mata Gran Reserva Brut Nature. A skilled blend of Macabeo, Xarel.lo and Parellada grape types, it is a lovely pale yellow colour with buttery, toasty aromas; ideal if you’re serving smoked salmon with capers and brown bread and butter. If you’re taking just one bottle of wine with your picnic, this could be the one as it’s a good all-rounder.
With pork pies or cured meats and pickles
Who says that red wine is just for winter? A bottle of great red is just as enjoyable in the sunshine. And, it certainly takes away any worry about keeping your wine cool. The isolated Priorat area, inland from Tarragona in North East Spain, may have poor soils but it also has a reputation for first-class winemaking as expert winemakers get the most out of ancient vines. Using Garnacha and Carinena grapes, the Coma Vella has concentrated blackberry notes and a hint of spice. It’s more than a match for a traditional British pork pie, or a selection of chorizo, jamon iberico and morcilla.
With prawn cocktail or crab sandwiches
Food and wine does not have to have the same national origins to pair beautifully? If you’re having a prawn cocktail with crisp iceberg lettuce or you’re heading to the seaside to pick up some fresh crab for sandwiches, then one of the most elegant grape types to go with seafood is the Albarino. The Palacio de Fefiñanes Albariño is a fantastic, minerally example which has deservedly picked up a host of wine awards, and enhances the flavours of any seafood.
With olives and sun-dried tomatoes
The best wine to drink with nibbles like olives, sun-dried tomatoes and nuts is a dry sherry. Look for grape varieties like the Fino and Manzanilla; bone-dry whites which are fortified only slightly above the typical wine level of 13%. Try a dry sherry around the 15% or 17% mark and you should have the perfect pairing. Fino La Ina is a great value dry fortified wine with a beautiful pale-straw hue and almond and apple flavours.
With your cheese course or dessert
No picnic is complete without a selection of cheese and crackers or a pudding to finish. And the Vinatigo Malvasia Clásico is a great option for both. A golden yellow, it’s the colour of sunshine. With aromas of apricots and rose, it’s an unctuous option, made from the Malvasia grape type from the Canary Islands. It’s the Spanish grape type you’ll see if travelling around La Palma, or driving past the vines planted in the extraordinary hollows of black lava in Lanzarote, dug out to protect the grapes from the wind. This example is perfect with soft, ripe cheeses or a chocolate cheesecake.
Whether you’re simply taking a few nibbles with you or a full-on five-course romantic picnic, thinking about which wines you want to pack first and then pairing your food with them could give you some ideas for a picnic which is extra special.