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Pairings for the perfect picnic

Summer wines don’t have to be too serious

You’re in a movie, one of those meet-cute, fall-out, yearn-longingly, embrace- madly-in-the-final-scene summer trifles starring Meg Ryan, Rachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo, Hugh Grant or the like.

You drive into the countryside in your sporty red convertible, only a short drive down a winding, two-lane road with no traffic and come upon a grassy hillside by a happy brook with nary a soul in sight.

You open your trunk and pull out your checkered tablecloth and lacquered wicker picnic basket, chock with crusty bread, spicy salami, soft cheeses and fresh strawberries.

And, of course, your little ice chest filled with wine.

The right wine. No monster red cabs, no subtle, pricey white burgundies. You two knuckleheads are far more into the passion than the potables. Unserious wines. Simple. Fruity. Maybe lightly sweet, even spritzy. Cheap. Often with screw-cap tops, in case you forget your opener.

You have, however, brought real glass wine glasses. No flimsy, plastic bubbly flutes. No, oh, please, no red Solo cups.

And you need to pick the proper flavor matches. You’re creating heaven here, you understand.

So open with an aperitif, a light, dry pinot grigio, while your partner spreads the tablecloth and places the sterling silver tableware, china plates and cloth napkins.

The picnic commences. With the bread and cheese, a nice, rich chardonnay. Brie and chablis may be a bourgeois cliche, but it’s still a fine flavor match.

With the goose liver pate, a soft red wine like the Mondavi red meritage described below. With the cold poached salmon, or cold roast quail (this is a fantasy, you realize), pinot noir is a wonderful match. For barbecued pulled-pork sandwiches, a hearty red zinfandel.

With the dessert of fresh, ripe strawberries, chocolate-dipped or not, a sweet, fizzy pink moscato will finish your meal with the appropriate romantic flair.

Now go skinny dipping in that brook. But wait an hour first.


2012 Geyser Peak Sauvignon Blanc, California: dry and crisp, with flavors of lemons and white grapefruit; $12.

2011 Whiplash Chardonnay, California: light and crisp and dry, with flavors of Granny Smith apples and spice; $11.

2012 Robert Mondavi Chardonnay, Private Selection, Central Coast: crisp and dry, with flavors of ripe peaches and pineapples; $11.

2011 Robert Mondavi Meritage, Private Selection, Central Coast (33 percent cabernet sauvignon, 32 percent merlot, 27 percent malbec, 7 percent cabernet franc, 1 percent petit verdot): soft,dry, rich and fruity, with flavors of black cherries and milk chocolate; $11.

2011 Mirassou Pinot Noir, California: soft and sweet, with aromas and flavors of black cherries and vanilla; $12.

2011 Mirassou Merlot, California: soft and sweet, with aromas and flavors of red berries and vanilla; $12.

2012 Pepi Sauvignon Blanc, California: crisp and light and dry, with lemon-lime flavors; $10.

2012 Pepi Pinot Grigio, California: aromas of camellias, flavors of ripe apples and lemons; dry and crisp; $10.

2012 Woodbridge Pinot Grigio, by Robert Mondavi, California (77 percent sauvignon blanc, 23 percent aromatic white varietals): aromas and flavors of ripe peaches and limes, light and crisp and dry; $8.

2011 Charles & Charles Red Wahlukie Slope, Washington (72 percent cabernet sauvignon, 28 percent syrah): floral aromas, favors of black cherry and bitter chocolate, soft and rich; $11.

2012 Cline Cellars Zinfandel, Lodi, Calif.: deep, dark color; hearty flavors of vanilla, black raspberries and mocha; $12.

2012 Banrock Station Pink Moscato, McLaren Vale, Australia: spritzy and sweet, with aromas and flavors of strawberries and musk; $9.

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