There are plenty of reasons to get your friends together to savor the last two weekends before Labor Day. I recently sat down with Aaron Aykanian, the General Manager of Vin Bin, to gather his suggestions for a variety of wines that are perfect for late summer picnics and beach days. The best part is that many of these patio-friendly pairings transition nicely into fall outdoor BBQs, bonfires and tailgate parties too. Thanks Aaron for introducing me to some new favorites!
The rosé that’s the most versatile bottle on the shelf
1. La Poussin Rosé 2016 ($10.99)
It turns out that the saying “Rosé all Day” does have some truth to it. Rosé comes highly recommended for picnics and summer al fresco gatherings because of its versatility. La Poussin Rosé “aka the pink chicken” is our new favorite and was Aaron’s first recommendation. While it had hints of strawberry, it definitely wasn’t too sweet for our tastebuds. It was extremely refreshing on a hot summer afternoon, and it paired well with a smorgasbord of ingredients that we served during this picnic last Saturday.
The crisp, white that pairs well with poultry and grilled veggies
2. Chenin Blanc - Les Pouches Saumer 2016 ($14.99)
This medium-bodied white wine pairs perfectly with everything from grilled chicken to turkey sandwiches or grilled summer veggies. It's grown in a region of France (Saumer) that is favored for its rocky soils which gives it a nice crisp, refreshing taste. Les Pouches is a single vineyard that has been recognized as particularly favored due to its soil, microclimate and location (gentle southwest facing slopes, near the village of Meron). This minerality is balanced out by fruity, citrus and peach aromas.
The light-bodied red that pairs well with darker meats and smoky BBQs
3. Tilenus Bierzo Mencia ($14.99)
If you know me, you know that I’m a red wine drinker. I have a special place in my heart for Pinot Noirs from Oregon, but this year I’ve made some room for new varieties of Spanish wines. This Mencia is a new favorite that we tried the other night with burgers, and we loved it. Aaron suggested also pairing it with spare ribs, grilled steak or other BBQ offerings. I’ll be stopping back in Vin Bin to stock up on more bottles. It’s a lush red wine that will remind you of a light-bodied Pinot Noir, but it has some smoky undertones that would nicely complement a honey (or spicy) BBQ sauce. In this case we paired with with an eggplant parmesan sandwich.
The wine cocktail that’s comes beach ready
4. Pampelonne French 75 Elderflower Lemon ($15.99 for 4)
Wine in cans is the trend of the summer, and it’s perfect for picnics and beach days because you don’t have to worry about a corkscrew or accidentally breaking glass. Plus, cans are lightweight. When talking with Aaron, I learned that you’re not sacrificing any flavor when purchasing a can of wine versus a bottle of wine. It’s all just the packaging! He suggested trying these Pampelonne wine sparkling cocktails, and I’m a new fan. They start with French wines and then add in natural flavors like the one I tried with meyer lemon, eldflower and notes of spicy bergamot. They also have a little bit of carbonation as well. I can’t wait to try the lime rosé flavor! Bonus: it comes packaged with an extendable straw.
As always, the only way to tell if a wine is good is if YOU like it. We all have different tastes and preferences. Find a local store that offers tastings/classes or stop by and ask someone about what you'd like. The value is when you go back to the same store and give them feedback on what you did/didn't like so that they can cater their next recommendation. Trust the experts! And if you live in Massachusetts, I highly recommend giving Vin Bin a try! They have locations in Southboro, Marlboro and Hopkinton. The Southboro and Marlboro stores also have delicious sandwiches that can be enjoyed onsite or take-out style at a picnic.
And of course... wine is always best enjoyed with friends. Selfie of me and Deb below taste testing the Pampelonnes this past weekend. We love meeting friends! Please join our email list so we can get to know you.