Corinna Hardgrave: Pairing with picnics
The wine buff
On a long weekend, when the sun shines (hope I'm not jinxing things by saying that), I love to be a tourist in my own country. My husband, who is American, always marvels about how lucky we are in Dublin, we have a beautiful park within walking distance, and the coast and the mountains are just a few miles away. In fact, there really isn't anywhere in Ireland that isn't driving distance from a nice little spot where you can perch yourself under a tree and have a picnic.
And when it comes to picnics, I like to keep it simple. I think Thomas Keller, the renowned chef and owner of The French Laundry in Yountville, California puts it perfectly in the book, From Napa with Love: "A good baguette is the most important thing. Some saucisson, cornichons, pâté grand-père, French radishes with butter (Président), fleur de sel, and an Opinel knife. A chilled rosé from Provence or a Beaujolais is also essential, and don't forget a wine opener, Govino plastic wineglasses, a serviette, and a cozy blanket. For dessert, I pack cherries or green grapes or the fruit of the season. Playing cards or a backgammon set are nice touches. And just like in the kitchen, no music. Enjoy the sound of nature and your companion."
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Just reading that transports me. And while screwcap bottles are what I always think of for picnics, bringing a corkscrew is really not a terrible problem. Or you could opt for one of the many rosés that come in a beautiful bottle with a glass closure, and give yourself a sustainability pat on the back as these bottles are a great way to make tap water look fancy, or, if you've been tempted to make Limoncello, this will be a nice finishing touch.
You may think, dashing bottle, mediocre wine, but this is not the case. Try Gerard Bertrand's Côte des Rose Rosé, in today's line-up, or his Hedonism Rosé, both stocked by O'Brien's, or Fleur de Prairie Côtes de Provence Rosé from Aldi. There are plenty of reasonably priced bottles of Beaujolais in the stores, many of them with screwcaps. M&S has a nice Fleurie for €13, and if you're looking for something a bit more special, drop into an independent and pick up a bottle by a natural wine maker.
Supervalu has an Italian wine sale running till June 12, with plenty of easy drinking bottles of red which will work nicely on a picnic, including a fresh Vermentino in today's line-up. If you're picnicking in your back garden and are looking for a sundowner, you'll find plenty of gins in Aldi's gin sale which has just started, with Kinsale Gin, Mason's Blackcurrant & Liquorice Gin, and Copeland Raspberry & Mint Gin, all €24.99.
Cans are a big thing this summer, with wine, cocktails and mixed drinks all getting a makeover. From Tuesday, Aldi has cans of Boyle's Gin with Elderflower Tonic, and Boyle's Raspberry Gin with Cloudy Lemonade for €1.99, perfect for festivals.
Summer is the time for a taste of la dolce vita, and winemaker and owner of Fattoria Selvapiana winery, Federico Giuntini Masseti, will be hosting an Italian wine dinner, pairing five of his wines with a menu from the team at award-winning Two Cooks. His Chiantis are held in very high regard and he'll be bringing along three on the night. Wednesday, €129, Upstairs at No 4 at The Corkscrew. Tel: (1850) 211 879
Castellani Collesano Vermentino IGT Toscana 2017
€10, reduced from €17, 12.5pc, from SuperValu
Fresh, and good to drink on its own or with food, this has a floral nose mixed with summer stone fruit and a herbal touch of sage and mint.
Dinavolino Bianco 2017
€22.95, 11.5pc, from Green Man Wines, Loose Canon, Baggot St Wine, Dublin; Le Caveau, Kilkenny, lecaveau.ie
I tasted this at the recent Real Wine Fair and it's got all the natural cred that you expect - it's had some skin contact so is pale orange and unfiltered. Expect beautifully fresh acidity and luminosity and silky flavours of apricots, apples and a touch of orange.
Gerard Bertrand Côte des RoseS Rosé
€18.95, or €14.21 when you buy one bottle and get a second for half price, 13pc, from O'Briens, obrienswine.ie
A delicate pink rosé that tastes of summer fruits with notes of raspberry, redcurrant and a fresh touch of grapefruit. This comes in a stunning bottle with a rose-shaped base. Beautiful as a gift or as a treat for yourself.